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pahavit
Date: 8-19-2006 3:18 PM
Subject: Today's field trip: San Jose Museum of Art II
Security: Public
Tags:field trip, museum, san jose, san jose museum of art
Today's field trip: San Jose Museum of Art II

Today D. and I went to the San Jose Museum of Art to see the "Listening Post" installation, but the best part was a completely different show.

The "Listening Post" show (by Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin) is a multi-media installation consisting of 231 little dollar bill-sized screens, hanging in an array of 21 vertical rows. Four hidden computers with customized operating systems feed the screens with text captured a short time earlier from thousands of online public forums, chat rooms and bulletin boards. The show has sound and light components that are continually changing and which cycle through six "movements."

One movement isolates phrases beginning with "I am . . . ," "I like . . .," and "I love . . ." The system translates some of these messages into tones. Others it was supposed to drone in synthesized voices, but the computer voice wasn't working today, which really detracted from the experience. Other data filters include words least used and words most used in a given interval. The music during the first movement ("I am . . . ") was very pleasant, though.

The best part was the Jennifer Steinkamp show. She creates 3-D computer animated projections onto museum walls which respond to architectural spaces. The imagery, color, movement and sound dazzle the eyes and flood the senses.

The swirling patterns and eye-popping color combinations, combined with motion and sometimes sound, challenged our depth perception and caused momentary disorientation now and then. Some pieces looked like trees belly-dancing, wringing and un-wringing their limbs over and over; brilliantly-colored garlands of blossoms twitching and quivering as though their stems were electrically charged; and abstract kelp forests swaying in technicolor underwater currents.

But my favorite piece was the oceanic "The Wreck of the Dumaru" (it's worth scrolling down to the Quicktime movie link of the piece in motion). It took up 2 walls of the gallery and it was an amazing experience to be immersed in such sound, light, color and swirling motion, larger than life.

My brain went into overload from too many sensory stimuli and I've been a brain-fogged zombie all evening. But a sunset walk through the neighborhood to say hello to the kitties helped soothe me and put me a bit closer to planet Earth. (Earth: that place with normal trees that don't belly dance or wring and un-wring themselves.)


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