I’m in Colorado Springs presenting Etiquette alongside Silvia’s piece Wondermart and my collaboration with Sam and Joji, GuruGuru. The space the organisers here (Caitlin Green and Drew Martorella) have sourced for the latter is fairly breathtaking. We usually aim for something modern, antiseptic – something a little unnerving which might feed into the dehumanized, focus-group world the piece plays off, but here it’s something special. The group of five enters the building – one of only three tall office blocks in the whole town – and goes to the 11th floor in an elevator playing panic-inducing footage from The Weather Channel. They exit into a brightly lit lobby area with fake plants and a sign on the wall indicating these are the offices of a very large (and controversial) US Military Intelligence contractor.
Next to their sign is one for GuruGuru, so instead of going into their offices they go the other way and open a door into a gigantic and entirely empty space offering a floor-to-ceiling panorama of the nearby Colorado Rockies. Cheyenne mountain, one of the closest, contains the famous NORAD compound, a nuclear bomb-proof Bat Cave which has been the central command of all North American defense (including Canada) since its construction in 1958.
This is the view of the mountain from the window of our space. Click for big.
This enormous empty office-space is one of several gathering spots for the group en-route to the smaller room where the action actually takes place. Inspired as it is by Adam Curtis’s incredible documentary ‘The Century of the Self’, I can’t help but feel GuruGuru has really found it’s place here, enjoying a view onto NORAD, sharing the floor with intelligence contractors, FBI bureaus two floors above and something called GIPSA or JYPSA a few below (I think they’re also federal agents, but the friendly security guard who took us onto the roof said the doors don’t open on the 8th floor, they have their own security, he doesn’t know what it stands for and hasn’t asked…) Coming up in the elevator I also can’t help noticing some of the characters standing there, so still, avoiding eye contact with anyone and pretending not to listen to the Weather Channel: this one is focussed, muscular, close-shaven, his huge neck ringed with heavily starched collar, the line of it continuing straight into the sides of his shaven head, a horizontal indent between eye and ear betraying long hours involving close-fitting eyewear of some kind. I can’t stop thinking about system failure, the ‘bungles’ of GuruGuru overlapping with the near apocalypse-triggering mistakes that took place within that mountain, twice, 30 / 31 years ago.