Monday, August 23, 2010

Modern Love

I was in New York twice this summer. The last trip happened to be the same weekend as the world cup final, and that Sunday afternoon I left my friends at a pub and headed uptown to the Museum of Modern Art. I needed my own version of culture, and while I like football, I don't like it enough.

I started my MOMA journey on the top floor and worked my way down. The work is always gorgeous and always inspiring. And I am finding myself much more familiar with the work and able to more fluently speak to the pieces and to the artists. But something struck me... it was a twinge of boredom. That sounds so terrible to say when I am amongst such beauty. But I guess because I was more familiar the 'wow' factor was somewhat lacking. I was craving sculpture, more interative, more dynamic, more experiential, more 3-D. Jackson Pollock and Lichenstein are no doubts inspiring pioneers, but their work was 2-D hanging on a wall. I was starting to wonder where the new modern was.

As I got to the lower levels the work really started to come alive. The creativity was being applied across all mediums..... and then I entered into this room and experienced this first hand.

It is a sonar sculpture. The experience put a smile on my face. To the visual eye it was nothing but white screens placed 6ft apart. But to the ear and a walking human being it was a cacophony of sound. Each screen was the voice of one person say the days of the week... and not necessarily in order. You would hear something like "Monday, Monday, Sunday, Friday, Monday". When you stood close to it you could hear the distinctive voice, whether it be a man, woman or child, but as you moved away you would hear the entire choir of different voices saying different names of the week. The total sound all together sounded like low-level buzzy noise at a cocktail party.

It was inspiring. I loved its similicity. I love that you have to experience it first hand to know its beauty. I love that the artist took full advantage of the space to share something one could only genuinely be present to understand.

This experience reminds me of an installation I saw at the Saatchi Gallery in London last June. There was a series of motorized wheelchairs with a variety of eldery dressed up military of various ethnicities/cultures all wheeling around and not crashing into each other thanks to motion sensors.

This is all just to say that I am getting really excited about how installations are pushing the boundaries of how one engages with art. I know this sounds like platitudes.... but I am genuinely excited about it. I feel alive when I see something inspiring, and don't get me wrong, I love the classics of modern art. I really do. But I am excited about this new experimental direction that sculpture is taking and I can't wait to see what else is out there.

No comments: