Sunday, November 6, 2011

Procrastinating through culture

I have an extra hour today, so I might as well update. Actually, that's more a reason I should be outside enjoying the beautiful day and perhaps ringing cowbells at marathoners because today the sun sets at 4:47. That's not an acceptable time for nightfall in November, and I go on record as against daylight savings time again this year. To celebrate the last day of pre-5 pm sunlight for a while, I did very little outside yesterday, and in fact, spent much of it inside at the museum. I recently renewed by membership to the Moma (after their many emails and thinly veiled threats about raising prices on membership fees if I didn't renew in the next few days), and yesterday seemed like a fine one to check out the much ballyhooed de Kooning retrospective.

What I learned from this exhibit is that I really didn't know much about de Kooning (which actually is fairly true of any modern artist). I like him better than the Cy Twombly's of the world though, and it was a well put together exhibit. While at the museum, my friends and I also checked out the labyrinth made of sheets in the atrium called Sum of Days. I'd read about it, and the idea sounded really cool in theory: you walk through a maze of hanging sheets that extend the six stories to the Moma's ceiling and while walking through microphones record the sounds of people walking through and project the sounds of previous days into the labyrinth. However, I think this is an exhibit that is much better in theory than in practice. One of my friends, who knows a fair bit about sound, said the way the microphones were hung basically ensured that after a few days all that you would hear would be a static white noise. Which incidentally is what we heard. I was more concerned with the fact that the "labyrinth" was more of a single concentric circle leading to the exit. I realize they were limited by space, but can you even call that a labyrinth if it takes you less than a minute to get to the center and back out? The curtains were cool though, and in smell and opacity kind of reminded me of huge dryer sheets.

This is the center: your reward for following the crowd through one turn in this not terribly grueling labyrinth. This makes me regret not springing the $10 for the corn maze at the Queen's Farm Museum this fall.

The other major exhibit on at the Moma right now is one called "Talk to Me" and explores how people communicate with objects. I think I didn't give this one the mental energy I needed to in order to fully understand it, but man, did I just not get this. The trouble started when I noticed I was glazing over while reading the description at the beginning of the exhibit. Then there were a series of videos played that seemed to have no connection (but likely did). One of them was 3D and had several pairs of 3D glasses hanging from the ceiling on wires. My problem with this was that they hung the glasses so that you couldn't really use them at eye level unless you were 5'7'' (something I am not) or above. Why not hang the glasses at multiple lengths? Or hang them on a stretchable bungee that short (or, in my opinion: average height) users might also partake?

From this point on, I was more prioritizing chatting with friends than following the cohesion of the exhibit, so I can really only comment on individual things that caught my eye. There was a working Metrocard selling machine (or I assume it working, although I never actually went so far as to put money in it). There was a series of headsets where you could listen to the innerworkings of a tree. There was a box of what (I hope) was fake, brightly-colored feces that was made my engineering certain e coli (is this really communication?). There was also a creepy bunny with a red light on it. Anyway, to sum up these vignettes, I think I need to go back and see this exhibit with a more open mind, which thanks to Moma membership--I can do for free, because right now it's making me feel dumb.

I will say, I think E. chromi is the perfect name for this.

Confession time: I'm actually writing this I realize, not so much to avoid enjoying these scant hours of daylight outside but because I'm avoiding working on what I'm supposed to be writing. There is a reason I should be inside at my computer on a lovely fall day, and sadly, blogging is not it. Therefore, I had best wrap this up and try to find other ways to eliminate writer's block.

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