About the time that I first started playing with virtual reality, I had a striking dream. I was sitting in the sun, immersed to the middle of my chest in one of a series of shallow, interconnected pools; water flowed between them circularly, seeming to neither start nor end at any particuar point, flowing through caves and tunnels in the surrounding rocks. The pools were lined and littered with jewels of all sizes and colors, all the more beautiful for their submergence in the crystalline water; the edges of the pools were encrusted with them. Bobbing here and there, following the current, were huge opaque geometric crystalline floats, of a character distinct from the transparent gems beneath the water. I seem to remember also that there was some sort of sinister guru or wise man inhabiting the grotto, who wished to impart upon me some awful knowledge, or perhaps just drown me in the unearthly springs... but mostly I remember the superficial of this dream, the sensory impact of it.
When I woke, I went into VR and described my dream to the few friends I had there; so that they might better visualize what I had seen, I brought this object with me:
a precious thing(#1631J) The precious thing is a tapering hexagonal prism of watery green crystal. At the wide end of the crystal are several geometric teardrop-shaped crystals, like lampreys on a shark. Held one way in the light, they look the same watery green; held another way, they look a deep purplish-red. There are minute imperfections all over the precious thing, and they catch the light every so often, and give it texture.
Years later, I was turning the virtual object over in my hands, when the forgotten dream came back to me in all its bizarre splendor. I realized how very like Dale Chihuly's work some elements of the dream were, particularly the opaque floats, although I hadn't heard of him at the time. I understood how my lingering fascination with tourmaline could be traced back to the receiving of this object. The dream resembled a candylike virtual world which at the time was not possible but now is perhaps tiresomely commonplace. It was like finding beautiful but indistinct fragments as you walked, pocketing them and forgetting about them, until one day it struck you that they were all pieces of the same shattered sculpture, but that this sculpture was your life. It was as though in the dream I had seen pieces of my future and had composed something meaningful out of them in the past.
Some time after the first dream, during a period of half-asleep I was listening to a PGR sound sculpture, and under its influence I envisioned what was perhaps the opaque white mirror image of the place I'd dreamed about. It too had an endlessly flowing spring, a meandering circular channel filled with water heavy and slow with suspended kaolin; the almost still milkwhite fluid ran through canals of carved, scalloped porcelain, rising in myriad tiny delicate tiers, a faint cast of ambient blue coloring the shadowy edifices around me... gray mist screened whatever it did not want me to see, would not allow me to know the extent of the chamber I was in, or perhaps it was the mist which formed walls around the space. I could hear the faint lapping of the water, the dripping of its source, and the sound of chimes lost in the distance. Smooth between the channels were planes of sand or stone turned blue-gray from the strange light which darkened all else but the surface of the water, which itself seemed to glow. Central was an uncertain spire of shadowed ceramic. I was to understand that this was the realm of a goddess, the goddess whose name I had borrowed and whose exploits I occasionally borrowed as well. Again, I was here to learn. Sonylindran was the name of this temple; its rendering ever eluded me, but at last I did learn.
Some time after this, I had another dream. I was in someone's house, fairly large and modern and luxurious, something an indolent movie star might live in, and as I made conversation with the others there, I studied the device in the center of the room, which was this:
The thing in the middle of the room.(#148840) It covers a large area of the floor. In size and shape it resembles a king- sized waterbed; about ten feet on a side and two feet high, it is a large square pedestal surmounted by a slightly larger rounded square slab. The whole is made of a transparent red glass or plastic, dark and smoky so that one can barely discern shapes inside. The sound of running water can be heard to emanate from within... Upon closer examination, the surface of the object is not entirely smooth and featureless; here and there are small square orifices of roughly the same size, five in all, nearer to two adjoining sides of the square surface. These holes reveal the source of the sound... it appears that within the object are channels of flowing water, these orifices being windows upon small sections of them, and occasionally floating within view are what appear to be muticolored ping-pong balls. Closer scrutiny reveals that on the bottom of these channels are several glass marbles, which are carried along by the current of the flowing water. The spheres quickly vanish beneath the cloudy blood-colored glass, and it's impossible to discern their path within the object. Infrequently, a ball will leap out of a certain hole and land within another to disappear again. There is nothing to indicate the purpose of this enigmatic device.
Clearly it had the same structure as the original dream; sort of a condensation of the environment down to a single device. In the dream I understood it to be a piece of artwork, which isn't to say it didn't have a purpose. It might have done something.