Saturday, March 10, 2012

Part 27 - Contemporary art (USA)

It’s been a while; a long while. While a friend reviews another piece of my work, I get some time to spend on blogging again. I was just wondering that it's funny how we have a lot of conflicts just because of ego; and in the end we are all dust!
For our next spot we head back to Boston; my friend had left for India and I never like sitting alone on the weekend. Even though we had been to Boston many times I figured that I’ll find something of interest there - surely there is some other museum to see.
Walking on the bridge across Seaport Boulevard towards the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) was great - if you visit Boston, do take a walk here. The ICA building is designed differently - check it out here:,_Boston.jpg
I bought the ticket and picked the free audio guided headset. In many museums this is provided free of cost and it is worth using. There were a few parents with kids sitting on the ground floor doing some children activity. The iPod they gave me had one earphone dangling.

Weird exhibits using CDs!

The first room I walked into had a stack of CDs in the center - that’s art! There was one piece of a gramophone cd (the large ones you see in old movies) with a lock on it. I happened to be there at the right time for a guided tour - one of the staff were explaining about the exhibits in the room; CDs are used to listen to sound and there are a lot of other ways to make sound with them - scratching, flipping etc. There was a collage made using broken CDs. Someone had made buttons using them. In the next room there were exhibits made using CD covers - these were covers made by people after they bought the CD; kind of like personalized covers. In Brazil it seems people put their own autographs on them.
In the next room there were some gross videos of how a CD was used - a chicken leg spinning on the CD; cutting an apple using the CD player head on which a knife was fixed etc. Then there were plenty of sketches of other uses of CDs and sketches of alternate playing heads that could be used to read CDs - birds, centipedes and what not. There was a picture of a 100 year old man sticking broken records.

The next room had some nice photographs - sunrise and sunset, Boston tea party pics, snaps from Obama’s campaign, crowds etc. The sunrise and sunset series was an interesting one - it was a sequence of photos shot during a journey on a ship; looked very pretty and the arrangement was also beautiful. The iPod device was not just useful for visitors - I saw a tour guide also listening to the iPod before she began her tour. Each exhibit was numbered and you would find an audio clip for that corresponding number.

Who are you?
One piece of art (a tilted 4 feet tower leaning on the wall) was based on Emily Dickinson’s poem:
I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us — don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!

How public, like a frog

To tell your name the livelong day

To an admiring bog!
There was one room that focussed on consumerism - a stack of bills arranged from floor to the ceiling. One exhibit to show inflation where the first bill and second bill have the same set of items bought in a supermarket except that they were bought in different years. There was one with 4 slabs and parking tickets on top - the audio explained that it was to point out that we pay for space.

The next room had the Pom Pom city on the floor - made fully of strands of fibre with a thick matting at the centre to denote how cities are more populated at the centre. 

Never ending reflection
The most fascinating piece I found was the infinite reflection - 8 beautiful shining metallic objects (they look metallic but they are actually glass) placed inside a glass case. When you looked at the glass case it seemed like there was an endless row of those 8 objects, one behind the other. 
How? In front of the objects is a 1-way mirror; from one side it seems transparent and from the other it seems like a mirror. Behind the objects is another mirror. So you have an image reflected from one mirror and onto the other mirror and it gives the illusion of infinity. 
Similar concept was used in a little building made of something like children’s blocks - look inside and you’ll see an infinite row of glowing bulbs. It looks playful from the outside but when you look down into the structure it can raise a sense of fear - fear of heights because the bottom never seems to be there.
Then there was a lengthy box in which a camera was dissected - every single part arranged in such a way that if you push from both ends of the box, the camera would be formed. There was a dark room in which there were shadows of objects with the question, “What if God only saved the objects?”
If you spend time looking at each piece and listening to the audio (which is pretty informative), you’ll spend hours here. Even though I stayed till the closing time, I had to skim through many of the exhibits.