Miklos Beyer 1 Jan 1999

Space Inhaler

He enters a world where his senses of self, otherness, and reality are blurred by the contemplation of internal, ineffable spectacles. He recounts his trip. A roller coaster ride where he loses his senses, of what is and what might be... He drills into the auditory system. Penetrates the vestibular system and gets lost in an unceasing serial commodification, an anabolic self-replication of his dreamed predicament. A show based on his inner self.

The receptors for both auditory and vestibular systems are located in a convoluted chamber in the temporal bone. His dwelling starts in chamber no.1 called the bony labyrinth... Left of where he finds himself is a delicate continuous membrane, suspended within the bony labyrinth, creating a second chamber within the first. The membranous labyrinth. It's a deep and fluid-filled structure. The entire structure has two membrane-covered outlets... An air-filled round window and an oval window. He passes the first and tries to enter the oval window which is covered by a plate called the stapes.

The stapes echo the vibrations of beating drums on the other side of the window. The membranous labyrinth is bouncing up and down, the stapes shake, the cerebral fluid sloshes back and forth, hammering against the round window in a complementary rhythm. He looks at the window serving as a pressure valve, bulging outward while the pressure is reaching a crescendo. He tries to get away from where he's standing. He can't move. He's stuck to the slime oozing under the stapes at the window. The stapes cannot keep the pressure, the joints pop and the window bursts open... The liquid tosses him of his feet, carries him through the round window, into the vestibule... A large central area within the inner section.

Covered in green moss, he tries to reach for air. As the wave settles, he notices the walls of the vestibule are covered with membranes, lots of them. Growing on top of the other, morphing and multiplying in action. The whole thing looks obscure and out of focus. Volcano spurts, lava rivers, exploding green bulbs... He wants to get to the central chamber, where all the organs branch off, the cochlea and the semicircular canals are the ones he's able to spot. His eyes are burned by the jelly that covered him. Where to go... There's only lines and lines. A horizon, like a freeway, running right into him. His hands cannot grasp anything. What he sees is a strange and untrustworthy blurry mixture which seems rendered by a machine. By the type of smoothness and the look of the faded colours in the texture, he's pretty sure the chamber is nothing more than an illusion.

What is there to touch, to be sure of. His eyes pulling a trick... But what is this all about? Try. There must be a line to connect to... This is surely not the expected route. It's real, no doubt. In the middle of the vestibule he notices the contours of a pipe-like maze. He knows he's close to the utricle and saccule. There. The utricle and saccule are additional vestibular organs, adjacent to the vestibule. If he's correct it's just a short stumble to the second chamber, the membranous labyrinth. That chamber is filled with a special fluid called endolymph. Endolymph is very similar to intracellular fluid: it is high in potassium and low in sodium. The ionic composition is necessary for vestibular and auditory cells to function optimally... That's where he has to be. He might blend in with the other cells, copy their structure and synthesise with the perilymph, which is very much like normal cerebral spinal fluid.

The trip is coming to an abrupt realisation of his cause; Although the cells are arranged in order along a basilar membrane from high to low frequency, it's the properties of the membrane and not the properties of the cells that set up the gradient which caused the eruption. He has to discriminate the different frequencies to actually survive. One part of the cells can move and break the structure. They could push the membrane up and down, amplify the vibrations, making the inner-cells more or less responsive. It's all in when you push, like on a swing, it could go higher or it could be pushed to a halt. If the outer cells can move the basilar membrane, that could in turn move the oval window. Subsequently the stapes... The whole process could be reversed so he could be pushed outward.

His senses became a transport mechanism converting the inside where he is in to the outside where he is not. Perception is paradoxical... The perceived thing exists only in so far as someone is able to perceive it. The innocent eye is blind. Mental representations are reflections of an internal as well as external reality. The receptacle and the spectacle. The vision and the ultimately visual. What he knows is what he sees. It is what he is.