The first time I experienced speleology it immediately became my undisputed passion. I feel attracted, seduced but sometimes even betrayed by ‘my’ caves. The caving world fascinates with mystery and eternal solitude, where fears and emotions are multiplied. At times you feel insecure and awkward, a moment later, you are exhilarated by the thrill of exploration . This emotional and physical exertion tests people’s boundaries. It is a constant test of my physical or psychological abilities . Even small decisions become important, such as deciding when risk or fatigue become reasons to stop exploring. Caves are metaphors for survival and balance for those who explore them. Caves contain the history of our planet, our present ability to adapt to it, and reflect our exploration of Earth as much is unknown. For speleologists, caves evoke many emotions, you can lose yourself in the void and find yourself reborn.
Natural cavities may be of interest because of their depth, their extent, or simply because of the possibility of finding water. In my life of exploration I have looked for many underground rivers, perennial waters that flow from places unknown to the secret depths of mountains. These huge empty spaces turn into tens of kilometers of tunnels, that might even be hundreds of kilometres long: it is a daring world of fantasies . Dreaming of new ways to discover unfound treasures is a bit like finding oneself during soul-searching moments. Speleology for me is linked to the search for new worlds, and as in expeditions during adventures abroad, caves are always viewed with fresh eyes for the natural environment of rare beauty.
Thanks to my passion for caving I have experienced many exciting things over the years. Starting from Sardinia and then elswhere I have been in situations that I never would have imagined. Last but not least is CAVES, which takes place just around the corner from my home. CAVES unites space and Earth, cave explorers and astronauts. The people meet during CAVES could have been characters from a contemporary novel. A story that could have been penned from the fantasies of Jules Verne, where speleologists and astronauts are no longer solitary figures but bound by the fate of CAVES, retiring in complicity to a secret laboratory beneath the mountains. We share a fascinating journey to discover new life and other worlds in the empty underground as well as in the infinite space of the cosmos.
Poetry of light
In the darkness of caves everything can surprise, as soon as you illuminate the scene, shadows enhance forms and profiles. Reflections add depth, light intensity changes and the darkness goes from a grey tint to include colour, perspectives and dimensions are laid bare to show transparency and aesthetic melodies. The morphology of a chasm always amazes me. Earth’s depths are imposing and severe, but still offer space to delicate and gentle creatures and new and unknown life forms.
I have managed to combine caving with my passion for video and photography. Photography teaches you to look at things in new ways, the large and the microscopic gain equal interest. In caves everything blends together and this is a strong point and you have to work with the technology behind digital cameras to capture what you want from the available light.
Taking pictures and videos in a cave can be as exciting as exploring, you can build a new scene by moving lights and shadows, similar to waiting for the sun to set over the horizon. We have to sacrifice our time, hours are spent testing in the cold, in the icy water of deep wells, stuck in absurd positions carrying heavy backpacks with lights and delicate equipment . All this for just one shot that does justice to what you see, or to tell in a picture about exploring extreme places and create an edited product that hopefully will move you as much as the moment experienced. Sirio, Carla and myself call our team Arxo. The team matters so much: synergies, ideas, skills. We try to follow the astronauts in the cave and catch them in action without being intrusive. We do not ask them to repeat a scene, in short we tell them to “seize the day”, all the rest comes from us.