One Hand Clapping
The artists featured in this exhibition highlighted the tensions created by our rapidly globalizing economies and the ways in which technological advancements bolster that. I found myself extremely drawn to Wong Ping’s animated film which presented in a risque manner the divide between generations and the relentless advancements in technology as seen through the eyes of the aging population. Ping also brings up the idea of how we will be preserved digitally after we die. Already our digital presence will outlive us, unless someday we reach a point where we are able to upload our consciousness to the internet and simple exist there with our memories.
Lin Yilin’s combination of performance videos and VR experience was one of the most successful VR as art experiences I’ve seen so far. Often I have found a lot of VR experiences to be underwhelming. Many times the content presented is beautiful, but could be just as easily experienced on a computer screen - the VR headset offers no real addition. And since only one person at a time can participate the people waiting are usually just watching what the person in the headset is doing on an external screen - it’s like watching friends play video games while you just sit there waiting for your turn. But with Yilin’s exhibit participants are engaged through the whole process leading up to putting on the headset by the films projected on the walls. I was pleasantly surprised when I put on the headset and the experience was entirely different than what I was anticipating. Instead of being in the museum I was transported to the basketball court and in an unexpected perspective. Since I had seen the drone/basketball video while waiting I knew that at some point the basketball in the VR world would be hitting the ground, which created this tension while I sat through the VR experience.
Samson Young’s disorienting soundscape sculptures created a beautifully immersive exhibit. His exhibit utilizes the impossible by playing sounds from instruments that only “exist” in the imagination. Using NESS (Next Generation Sound System), Young created sounds from fantastical instruments like 20 foot long trumpets, and bugles that only work at 300 degrees celsius. These sounds challenge the idea of what an instrument is and can be. Paired with the flower sculptures, the room feels other wordly.
Alberto Giacometti Retrospective
I love seeing retrospectives at the Guggenheim. I think the shape of the building lends itself really well to viewing the progression of an artists work throughout their lifetime. Starting on the ground floor are Giacometti’s early experiments with cubism - Thick, flat, plaster sculptures that then transition to beautiful fluid statues representative to of the human form, and ultimately to thin, anxious, exaggerated sculptures representative of isolation and devastation of World War II.
Isolation seemed a key theme to much of Giacometti’s later work, and it manifested in several ways. Obviously in his iconic statues with long exaggerated bodies, but I was also interested in how it manifested through his sculptures that became smaller and smaller during his time of exile.
Visiting the Guggenheim brought the Glenstone article back to mind. While the exhibition was incredible it was almost impossible to truly sit and enjoy anything as the constant crowds of people jostled around. Phones were everywhere (including myself), as everyone tried to document what they saw. I found myself trying to take quick pictures so I could potentially revisit the work because it was too stressful to spend too much time looking at any one piece. Which at that point would it have been better just to view on online retrospective? I wouldn’t have seen the texture or the scale of the incredible pieces, but I would have had a little more quiet while viewing them.
I love the way Mariko Mori juxtaposes natural landscapes and spiritual imagery with electronic manipulations. She builds these worlds that are serene yet strange. A lot of futuristic artwork I’ve seen lately is very distopian emphasizing the potential harm of technology, yet Mori’s images create almost a utopian future where the traditions of the past harmonize with the quirky advancements in technology. Especially with Nirvana, she reminds me of Cindy Sherman. Reinventing herself with every self portrait and finding ways to look towards the future while holding on to the past.
Cage’s control over his artwork is his complete lack of control. It challenges our ideas of control and ownership in creative work. His instruments are not traditional, but he draws from ancient books on wisdom and prophecy to guide his compositions. Similar to Mariko Mori he uses the past to influence the way we interact with future and technological advancements.
We are completely surrounded by technology day in and day out, but know so little about how most of it works. Certain technologies feel shrouded in mystery, almost as if they are more magic than tech. Oursler’s parallels between the super natural and the technological emphasize how we are as equally mystified, and even somewhat scared of, the technology around us as we are by the unexplained super natural. But often there is an explanation for all of these things if we’re willing to search for it.