Friday, August 26, 2011

death records (part 1)

Location: LINDA VISTA HOSPITAL - Los Angeles, CA

Easily the most haunting location thus far, Linda Vista Hospital proved one thing to me instantly: Buildings have a soul - and the soul of LVH is a tortured one.

Overlooking downtown Los Angeles, LVH’s bright white facade welcomes one inside. but, once beyond the threshold, daylight shies away and darkness reigns.  

Here, everything appears just under the surface. the bright exterior belying the black within... the smooth art deco lobby design masking the gruesome secrets buried underneath... the most unsettling aspect of this place was the sense that in one brief and chaotic moment, everyone employed or interned here just... up and left. 

Which is not far from the truth - rising death tolls at the hospital lead to crushing lawsuits. when the funding abruptly ceased it was only a matter of weeks before the hospital emptied out and closed its doors - leaving behind a body of evidence and a legion of nightmares. here, in these halls of madness, the memories remain. and, if one is open to it, these nightmares will find a way to reach you. 

My first encounter was in the death records room. this vault-like box holds countless stacks of vividly colored folders - each bursting with patient history. each file is a life ended within these walls. 

As i stood, alone and in awe of the melancholy beauty of my surroundings, i suddenly felt cold - freezing cold. the hairs on my arms and neck raised in alarm. at that moment a file and its contents came pouring from a shelf onto the floor. my heightened awareness made me immediately jump to the floor and examine the pages. assuming this was a sign, i searched for a patient name and any relevant information; but, as soon as I found a name another file - from across the room - fell to the floor. I rushed to the scene only to have yet another, immediately behind me, spill it’s history onto the cold hard floor. 

Then, it stopped. The chill, the movement, the feeling - it all stopped as abruptly as a carnival ride. i knew, then, the files individually meant nothing, but the experience - the show - was meant for me.

What filled me with dread was this simple fact: it was only mid-afternoon, and I had an entire night ahead of me... aperi oculos tuos