Beneath the Mountain Flows a Stillness: A Speleogen Cavecast

On August 24, 2013 the Speleogen Team returned to Pigeon Mountain just outside of Lafayette, GA, and descended into Petty John’s Cave for the third time.

The trip, which was spearheaded by photographer/adventurer John Paul Floyd and rock climber extraordinaire Jordan Mitchell, was the most physically and mentally challenging that the Team had undertaken yet.

Its purpose was to navigate the five-person unit underneath Pigeon Mountain to the banks of an underground waterfall that had been identified on a collection of maps given to us by a group of more experienced cavers when we arrived to make our first descent.

Once we had wormed ourselves sufficiently deeply belowground the group would not emerge again for another seven hours during which time our mettle would be tested by a number of obstacles both physical and psychological in nature.

Several months after returning home (mostly) unscathed from this journey, Speleogen director Devin Brown reconvened the Team in their hometown of Atlanta in the interest of eliciting from each Team member his narrative descriptions of the trek. The result is this polyvocal cavecast.

Conceived by Devin and playfully engineered by Mason Brown with David Matysiak’s assistance, this piece uses the sounds of our voices coupled with documentary audio captured underground to illustrate how our group excursions are expressions of a form of improvised collective will which provides simultaneously, and perhaps somewhat paradoxically, opportunities for independent self-reflection.

The piece demonstrates also how as artists we process and assimilate our memories and sense impressions of the cave environments we visit. For the Speleogen Team the excursion itself is often only the first of many versions of the event, which we revise and revisit continually as we work to produce new renderings of past experiences.

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