Underground Spatialities

Spring 2019
Undergraduate + Graduate Humanities Studio
Department of Anthropology, Rice University

How do we see underground space? How do we sense it?

This experimental and experiential course introduced students to thinking about underground space through volume and movement. It built on scholarship that examines the geopolitics of volumetric space using underground water movement as a case study. We visited and studied three underground formations: Rice University's tunnel system, the Natural Bridge Caverns near San Antonio, and the Houston Cistern. Combining field trips, seminar discussions, and computer modeling techniques the students produced a multimedia exploration of underground space that combined movement, sound, film and photography. In this class, students gained analytical and practical skills to design their own investigations of space by translating theory and data into multimedia forms.

The students built an immersive and interactive mutimedia installation at the Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University. Designed to evoke labyrinthine cave passages, the installation featured sculpture, video and sound art, virtual reality, interactive motion-reactive visuals. A public opening and reception was held on April 17, 2019.

Andrea Ballestero, Anthropology, Rice University
Johannes Birringer, Theater and Choreography, Brunel University

©Marie Saldaña 2023