Thoughts & Insights
Boundless Freedom Under the Ocean Waves
A man stands barefoot in the white sand of the seabed. His body is submerged in water to the very tips of his hair.
He wears a nose clip and diving goggles, but no breathing apparatus, no compressed-air bottle – because he isn’t breathing. He stands calmly on the edge of a yawning chasm looking over – over into the darkness of a sheer 200-meter drop directly before his feet. It is the edge of a “blue hole”. And he isn’t breathing.
After a brief moment of concentration, he bends his knees slightly and prepares to jump from this position to then launch apparently weightless in free fall, down to the bottom of this chasm whose floor is hidden in the darkness. He disappears from view in an instant.
He glides down ever deeper. High above him in the distance, the waves beating against the coastline shimmer, while all around him the darkness grows with every meter that he dives. It’s as if a magic attraction is drawing him irresistibly into its power so that he can only submit to the pull and in this gliding free fall he merges completely with the elements and forces at play.
His feet then touch the seabed. Having arrived at the bottom and still holding his breath, he begins his journey back to the sun-flooded waves of the reef on the coast of Long Island on the Bahamas. He nimbly climbs the last stretch of the steep, rocky edge of the hole called Dean’s Hole, the world’s largest ocean hole so far discovered. Now at the surface, his head comes above water for the first time and after a seemingly eternal moment of complete inner and outer calm, he takes his first breath and returns to life.
Certainly an extreme experience of boundless freedom! Close to death and drawn down by a magical hand that even casts an inescapable spell on those who have only watched French freediver Guillaume Néry on this adventure in Dean’s Hole virtually on a screen.
I was also unable to resist this unbelievable, downright infuriating fascination the first time I saw the film recently. I was told about Guillaume Néry by a good friend and partner in the OUBEY project, who is just as much at home in our oceans as he is on land, and who knows about OUBEY’s love of water, the oceans and their inhabitants, and about its deep passion for diving. Since at the time my thoughts were in any case on an intensive journey through the marine architecture of Jacques Rougerie, the first-hand exploration of the seabed by a human diver without the protective shell of a Sea Orbiter, without any technical aids, with net and double floor, appeared to me to be the logical extension of these architectural fantasies. The investigation of uncharted worlds and borderline exploration of self rolled into one.
The fascinating effect of this near-death diving adventure for the outside world is as extreme as the dive itself. The excitement on the edge of a blue hole in the ocean is perhaps similar to the exhilarating singularity on the edge of a black hole in the universe from which there is no escaping once a certain point of approach has been passed. Possibly it is the same yearning in both adventures that has filled our dreams since we first gazed upward to the night sky, the dream of drifting through the endless space above us in an attempt to discover the secret of our true origin.