Art Opening Aims to Transform You

Interactive exhibit combines music and light for out-of-body experience.

There was life before Diane Hause’s interactive installation “Eyeing the Cosmos While Astride the Abyss,” and there’s life after it.

Attendees who make the pilgrimage to 2TEN HAUSTUDIO on N.C. 210 in Sampson County, just past the Pender County line, for the opening reception June 8 will step into Hause’s studio barefoot and alone, and into another dimension. They’ll be greeted by ethereal music interlaced with the steady thump of a heartbeat and constant, controlled breathing as a trail of LED candles leads them through a corridor of drapery dimly aglow in green and purple lights.

They may feel frightened and vulnerable in this strange solitude. Their awareness of mortality may be heightened. They may feel insignificant in light of the vastness of the universe, and value more their time on earth. In the end, their sense of security may be strengthened, and they might walk out more hopeful than when they walked in.

Hause’s “Eyeing the Cosmos” is a miniature interactive labyrinth created with everyday items and assembled to form places that encourage you to contemplate your life. It’s scored by an ambient remix of Yoko Ono’s song “Will I” and a recording from within the womb of a pregnant woman. The experience is meant to take you out of your normal way of thinking so you might seize the day – the type of transformation experienced by patients diagnosed with terminal diseases, whose mortality suddenly becomes frighteningly real.

In 2010, Hause was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. She said that on that day, the patterns of the tile floor in her doctor’s office became forever etched into her mind.

“You know when you go in an airport and you go on that moving sidewalk, and you can walk through it real fast?” Hause asked. “It’s like when you step off – that jarring, you-gotta-get-back-into-your-body kind of feeling … It was like a ‘thud’ feeling.

“We all know we’re going to die. We all know that. But it’s so abstract. When it’s there and everything is stripped away, everything just stops. You realize – like that conveyor belt – it’s all future-oriented. Suddenly it was like here, now. And it’s very reflective. You’re kind of in shock.”

Hause woke up at three in the morning the night she received her diagnosis.

“I had what felt like my first panic attack,” she said. “All of a sudden I was like, ‘Wait a minute, what makes me think I can just live my life like I know what’s going on? What happens next?’ All those questions, and total panic of, ‘I don’t know what happens next, I’m not ready for it.’ … I felt like I was trapped and I wanted to pace.”

Hause retreated to a tiny bathroom and wrapped a prayer shawl around her like a cocoon.

“I sat down on the floor and was huddled and was freaking out,” Hause said. “I left the bathroom and I walked outside. It was nights like you get out here (in Ivanhoe), thousands of stars, and I went and I sat in my little lawn chair and I was looking at them … It was a very meditative state I must have gone into because when I went inside, I thought I’d been out there for 15 minutes. When I looked at a clock it was five in the morning. I was so calm and I felt OK. That panic was gone and I was OK.”

“Eyeing the Cosmos” is Hause’s gesture to that powerful, transformative moment of clarity.

Or, as she puts it, “the realized moment between fear/peace, life/death, finite/infinite.”

“I can still kind of pull from that place,” Hause said. “I still deal with it. I still have a lot of scans coming up. My tumor markers are up. But I kind of know that place now. It almost exists, like something real.”
June 5, 2013

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