Miroslaw Balka’s Turbine Hall installation, How It Is, takes the form of a giant cargo crate. Although one end is completely open, the lighting arrangement means that as you enter the crate you quickly pass into complete darkness or perhaps into another, vast universe. Dimensions are warped in the darkness – the interior definitely feels bigger than the exterior. Eventually the effect fades as your eyes become accustomed to the gloom, but for a short while you have the experience of taking a step into the unknown.
How It Is also reminded me of a unique punishment described in The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy series, a device that allows the victim to perceive themselves in the context of the entire universe, creating a sense of inferiority. The punishment was apparently ineffective when it was given to Zaphod Beeblebrox.
Different people responded to the experience in different ways – some wander randomly while others hug the walls or stand in one place. I was impressed by a young art student who was sitting deep in the dark interior, sketching the scene.