10 Ways of Looking at a Waterfall: A Digital Exhibition: Part 2


Descending by elevator into the depths of Ruby Falls.
[Image Courtesy of David Matysiak]

Speleogen returns this week with the 2nd installment of a 3-part digital exhibition of multimedia artworks inspired by a recent Community Cave Excursion to Ruby Falls, a popular tourist cave that is equal parts museum, natural wonder, and roadside attraction located just outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

For more information about our purposes for making this trip and for details concerning the circumstances under which the artists produced their pieces please see the introductory essay that accompanies Part 1 of this exhibition.

A few brief words about the pieces that follow:

David Matysiak’s playful and endearing video is partially a documentary snapshot of the events leading up to and including our journey through the Falls. But it is also partially a fictionalized hallucination. Revisiting a trope he first developed in order to whip up enthusiasm about the trip, David uses this piece to marry together the impulses to document transparently Speleogen’s activities with the demands and urges of the imagination to manipulate and embellish those very documents.

Cathy Brown’s poem functions almost like an exercise in ekphrasis. Only instead of describing a painting hanging in a gallery or a sculpture resting in the corner of a studio she takes as her subject a little blue-lit tableaux from the Falls. Her recognition of the fact that everything in the Falls is always already highly aestheticized or “framed” for the viewer/spectator lends her poem a certain poignancy and makes us wonder about the divisions between beauty that is naturally occurring versus beauty that is utterly synthetic.

– When she submitted her video to Speleogen Meredith Kooi told us that it was seriously “disorienting.” We concur with this sentiment, but we don’t want this quality of the video to turn viewers away. Instead, we ask that you allow the video to work on you somatically, to allow it to prick your senses of sight and hearing as it works to reproduce something essential about the Falls experience. Descending thousands of feet underground into an artificially lighted environment and being led by a wise-cracking, polo-shirted guide brandishing a walkie-talkie is totally disorienting. We think Meredith’s video gets at the heart of how that form of disorientation manifests itself through the bodily experiences of certain site-specific visuals and noises.

We sincerely hope you enjoy these 3 fantastic examples of The New Cave Art!

Team Speleogen

UFO Crashes at Ruby Falls! Alien Missing!

by David Matysiak

David Matysiak is a regular contributor to Speleogen.


by Cathy Brown



I am drawn to you

Running, leaping, dancing

Moon pool splashing

Landscape, seascape-escape

Free as a child

I could lose myself in you.

Intoxicating crystal air

Smooth, brittle-don’t touch!

Meeting at your core

Trickling, flowing- sly surprise

Finally succumb to your lullaby

I could sleep in you.



Cathy Brown has been teaching pre-school for thirty years, the past twenty in Dunwoody, Georgia, at the Kingswood School. Married to Gary Brown for 36 years, her children and grandchildren are her greatest joy. She has a degree in Special Education from The University of Virginia.

Subterranean Suns

by Meredith Kooi

Meredith Kooi (born Chicago) is a performance/visual artist, editor, and art critic based in Atlanta, GA. She is currently the editor for Radius, an experimental radio broadcast platform, and a monthly contributor to the art criticism site Bad At Sports. She received her MA in Visual and Critical Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is currently pursuing a PhD in the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts at Emory University where she teaches undergraduate courses in Visual Studies and Performance Studies.

Part 1 of this digital exhibition was published on January 31, 2014. We will publish the 3rd and final installment on Thursday, February 13.

[A note about the exhibition’s new title: The original title for this collection of digital artwork (“9 Ways of Looking at a Waterfall”) was a playful reference to the Wallace Stevens poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” The title referred explicitly to the total number of submissions that we received from the Excursion’s participants and it gestured at the ways in which one’s perspective and subject position are each paramount when it comes to using art as a tool for rendering the affective experiences of places. Since publishing Part 1 of the exhibition we received a 10th submission from one of our amazing excursion-goers. Given Speleogen’s methodological emphases on openness, inclusion, collaboration, and fluidity we felt it would be negligent to exclude this new piece from the exhibition even though it technically missed our submission deadline by a couple of days. We have therefore changed the exhibition’s title to reflect the addition of our 10th vantage point overlooking the Falls.]

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