the Glass Conservatory & Pittsburgh... the strangest place
jason r finley
[see also accompanying photos]

June 20th, 02007
went to Chihuly Glass art exhibit at Phipps Conservatory here in Pittsburgh, right next to Carnegie Mellon. apparently very famous.
didnt know what to expect but it was completely spellbinding.
otherworldly, massive, and sinuous colored glass were embedded/interwoven throughout the sprawling indoor botanical garden, transforming spaces into alien landscapes.

and the Broderie chamber, without even any of the glass, a dark enclosed ominous garden, flowers and hedges too perfect, and sinister with symmetry, still air and a well, as if a black vastness was just thinly covered. uncanny. i stepped in alone and stood transfixed in horror/rapture.

and the rest was fantastic. things and places from forgotten dreams. colors and forms unimagined.

this whole city, the CMU & U Pitt campus area, all of it..., i got this sense the last time i was here also,
a vague deep feeling of something somehow subtly displaced, not right. vaguely unsettling.
i really dont know what to make of this place. it's the most inexplicable city to which ive been.
the layout of it, like a toy city folded half on top of itself, disjointed, queer buildings stretched and considering, traces and chunks of old industry (some still churning), railroads disappearing into chasms and around bends, small in-between places that hope you won't see them as you pass by, megalithic slabs forced down into the earth but lit brightly and teeming inside with new secrets being made: robotics, nanotech, things we don't yet have names for. things from a future we hope we won't have to name.

and walking at night
eldritch lights, not close.
gothic bridges, bulky yet skeletal. what do they span? if you look down you will quickly look back up, unable to answer or say why.
is this all somehow real? can't it be?

the night lingers within the day here.

great spaces, transformed into new ones, with the old lurking just beneath.
stories untold soaked into concrete and brick, waiting.
stories you somehow feel that you probably don't want to know.

air that is not empty.
stillness. where is everything?
the Cathedral of Learning towers sublime and impossible
against a sweep of massive billowing clouds
(perhaps concealing holes in the sky).

and entrance to the city, from the airport miles to the south:
rushing through tunnel onto bridge soaring out over two or three rivers
high above the confused cluster of skyscrapers downtown

magnificent and formidable; unsettling.

this is a place that reminds you:
you are wayfarers
all of you.