Sunday D. and I took a break from moving into our new home to go to the San Jose Museum of Art. We'd been there last August to see the Listening Post installation. At the time the computer voices weren't working, so we missed out on a major component of the experience. Today the computer was speaking just fine, droning and singing the words and phrases scooting by on all those little screens, culled just moments earlier from thousands of online public forums, chat rooms and bulletin boards. As the voices overlapped at times, I didn't try to concentrate on the separate threads, I just closed my eyes and let the resonant sounds wash over me in abstract waves. Same with the words and phrases scrolling up, down and across those little screens; I stopped trying to read them, unfocused my eyes slightly and just gazed upon the shifting patterns of light pulsing through the display. I would have enjoyed it more if the couches provided for the only seating weren't so godawfully uncomfortable. Would it have broken their budget to have provided some lumbar support?!? It's hours later, and my lower back still hurts.
We also looked at the rest of the museum's current exhibitions. The one that engaged me the most was called Suburban Escape: The Art of California Sprawl. It was a collection of paintings, photographs/videos and sculptures showing aspects of the California suburbs from the post-war boom to the present. One piece depicted some residents of the tract housing in the tiny little northern Los Angeles County town where I lived during my last 6 months in music school at CalArts. I should not have been surprised to see such a place in that exhibition, but I was. Daly City's infamous "little boxes made of ticky-tacky" were represented as well in one photo.
Although a few of the artists made different aspects of suburbia look rather benign or even attractive, most of them emphasized the empty, unsightly, disquieting, depressing realities of bland, pre-planned California sprawl. It's a dystopia which is all too familiar and all too comfortable. Another day, another McMansion going up down the block.