Results tagged “museum” from kwc blog

Olafur Eliasson: Take Your Time @ MOMA

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Olafus Eliasson created one of my favorite installations I've never saw -- The Weather Project at the Tate Modern -- so I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon his "Take Your Time" exhibit at the MOMA. I can't think of any American museum that can really rival the Tate's Turbine Hall for immersive art, but Eliasson took over every knook and cranny he could find in the MOMA. A fan propels itself in the atrium, an opening in the wall takes you to a platform that hovers over infinite reflections of yourself, and yellow flourescent lights in the hallway turn everyone into an intense monochrome gray. My favorite part of the exhibit was a multi-faceted kaleidoscope light that sent colors of every stripe onto the surrounding walls.

If only I had been in NYC this weekend instead of last: Eliasson's Brooklyn Bridge Waterfalls are due to open tomorrow. Perhaps another favorite never-seen installation to add to my list.

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© Murakami @ Brooklyn Museum

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I can never figure out whether Takashi Murakami is an "artist" or clever con. His study of otaku/manga/pop fetish commercialism looks an awful lot like otaku/manga/pop/fetish commercialism. But LIchtenstein got away with plagiarizing pages out of comic books and now hangs in nearly every modern art museum; at least Murakami does original work.

Brooklyn MuseumI was sad to miss Murakami's show in Los Angeles. I stayed at a hotel just two blocks away from the exhibit, but between New Years, the Rose Bowl, and the Moca's limited hours, I couldn't make it over. I must have some gravity towards Murakami: last weekend I found myself staying in Brooklyn just on the other side of Prospect Park, so I was not to be denied this time around.

The exhibit takes over a large swath of the Brooklyn Museum and spans two floors. The museum feels transformed with Murakami wallpaper covering many of the rooms to intense effect: imagine the effect of standing in a room covered with smiley flower wallpaper, smiley flower paintings, and smiley flower sculptures. If that doesn't seem intense to you, imagine another room with eyeballs on pink.

The biggest transformation was also Murakami's most brilliant stroke: a fully operational Louis Vitton store sits in the middle of the exhibit, offering some of Murakami's previous work for LV as well as an exhibition-exclusive design.

Murakami's exploration of otaku sexual fetishism setup the most disturbing twist: there was a large number of parents who brought children to the exhibit. I would have thought the naked female robot transforming into a spaceship would have deterred them from going further, sparing the parents from having to explain the life-size manga woman spraying milk from her breasts and the male counterpart just across. But no, deep into the exhibit, there were kids happily drawing smiley flowers on pieces of paper.

Photos aren't allowed inside the exhibition, but I tried my best anyway: photo gallery

Getty Villa

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I'm a fan of the Getty Center in LA and have been looking forward to the opportunity to visit the Getty Villa ever since it reopened in the beginning of 2006 after extensive renovations. The villa was constructed as a semi-recreation of the Villa of the Papyri, so named because many rolls of papyrus were discovered inside. Since its restoration, it houses the antiquities collection for the Getty. Architects for the Getty Villa relied on detailed floorplans drawn by Karl Weber, who excavated the Herculaneum villa in the mid-18th century. Volcanic gases forced the original excavation to be halted, and parts of the original villa remain unexplored.

The Getty Villa recreation is fun because it is a fake recreation: the architects were free to take odd liberties that restorations must avoid. Corinthian, Doric, and Ionic columns are intermixed, a Pompeii fountain recreation sits at the end of one of the villa's axes, travertine connects it to Meier's Getty Center, and other historical anachronisms and locational amalgams are present throughout. The architects even went so far as to add a modern "excavation" theme to the renovation. You're forced to walk up flights of stairs so that you enter the villa site from above. You then descend down stairs surrounded by concrete pressed to look like layers of wood. An archeological-styled ramp allows you to cross artificially added levels of the dig.

On the one hand, the architects went to great lengths to use Weber's floor plans of the buried Roman villa -- they even located atrium designs from other villas to determine whether or not the atrium should be one or two levels -- but then they throw accuracy out of the window to represent architectural cross-sections of history, ancient Roman and modern. Perhaps the cross-section is useful, because the Villa is there to house real artifacts of Etruscan, Greek, and Roman past. It is easy to discern simulcra from relic.

I have visited the actual archeological sites at Ercalono/Herculaneum and Pompeii in 2001, seen the old mosaics and paintings, and walked the layers of excavation. More than those sites, though, I was reminded of Forest Lawn Memorial-Park and Cemetary in Glendale, CA, which has a stained-glass recreation of the Last Supper, a full-size David statue, and many other replicas that I briefly talked about here. I had visited Forest Lawn because Umberto Eco mentioned it in his essay on "hyperreal" museums in Travels in Hyperreality and my frequent visits to Glendale made it an easy stop. I dug out my old notes on Travels in Hyperreality for this post to try and find a Forest Lawn quote that would describe the nature of the Villa. Surprisingly, I found this quote instead:

...We try to think how a Roman patrician lived and what he was thinking when he built himself one of the villas that the Getty Museum reconstructs, in its need to reconstruct at home the grandeur of Greek civilization. The Roman yearned for impossible parthenons; from Hellenistic artists he ordered copies of the great statues of the Periclean age. He was a greedy shark who, after having helped bring down Greece, guaranteed its survival in the form of copies. Between the Roman patrician and the Greece of the fifth century there were, we might say, from five to seven hundred years. Between the Getty Museum and the remade Rome there are, roughly speaking, two thousand. The temporal gap is bridged by archeological knowledge; we can rely on the Getty team, their reconstruction is more faithful to Herculaneum than the Herculaneum reproduction was faithful to the Greek tradition. But the fact is that our journey into the Absolute Fake, begun in the spirit of irony and sophisticated repulsion, is now exposing us to some dramatic questions.

I'll have to thank my past self for anticipating the reopening of the Villa and my eventual journey there.

I took a lot of photos and instead of processing them, I went ahead and posted a full set: Getty Villa Photoset (~200 photos). For those that want a briefer tour, I also put together a set of highlights

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Spy Museum

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The Spy Museum in DC is a fun way to spend an afternoon. It's full of real-life spy gadgetry like cameras and bugs as well as historical artifacts like a letter from George Washington directing the creation of a spy network (more about George Washington, spymaster). There are also interactive touchscreen displays, such as exhibits that invite you to spot the dead drops and a visualization of the Enigma encryption engine.

The museum starts off with the tools of the trade. Some of my favorites included a beautiful example of hiding in plain sight -- a camera hidden in the side of a camera case -- as well as a camera attached to a pigeon. There was also a great display of various bugging techniques and a replica of a bug so ingenious that I still don't understand it: Russian school kids gave an American ambassador a carved eagle seal with a hidden air cavity and passive antenna, which could be activated as a bug by aiming a particular frequency at it.

The museum then moves you through a wide swath of spy history from historical figures like Sun Tzu, George Washington, and Harriet Tubman, to historical events like World War II and the McCarthy trials. Of course the vast majority of spy history may never be known, but its fun to peruse some of the more notorious cases.

There are side-games to participate in as you journey through the museum. One is keeping your cover, which requires you to memorize an identity and mission. I thought this would be fun until I discovered that it just involved answering questions at a computer screen -- it would have been much more fun if employees were trained to come up to you and ask you questions about your cover; it just isn't scary when you walk up to a computer screen vs. someone walking up to you.

A less official side game is sneaking into "secure" areas, such as a door with a combination lock that opens into a "Top Secret" room -- actually just a facilities room with the air conditioners. This is a more difficult game to play because it requires you to distinguish between allowed secret areas and actual private areas. I had to debate for awhile whether a staircase marked "No Admittance" was truly that, or just another opportunity to test my covert skills (I figured out that it was the stairway to the administrative offices, so I aborted).

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The Exploratorium is as much fun for my camera as it is for me. The optical effects and cool experiments that are candy for your eyes are just as fun to get on film. They have a table there that small bits of dry ice get dropped on every couple minutes. There is a small amount of liquid on the table, so the pieces of dry ice dance around the table and create little miniature hurricanes. You can checkout some more tiny dry ice swirl and other Exporatorium exhibit photos on Flickr.

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I also got some more photos of Liz Hickok's San Francisco in Jello-O. This time around, she had done a model of the Palace of Fine Arts and Marina.

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Getty sun comparison

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The advantage of going to the Getty twice, as well as having a partner the second time around armed with another camera, is that you have plenty of photos with which to make comparisons. Our most recent trip was much later in the day that my first trip, and the sky was slightly more overcast, which meant that the dramatic shadows of my previous photos were missing. However, we were also there fairly close to sunset, so we got to watch as the building transitioned from bright white to orange hues. The reflections off of the curved structures were also much more intense, and in some cases were reminescent of Gehry buildings.

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More photo comparisons are in the extended entry. You may want to check out horizonline's Getty photos -- I stuck with a telephoto lens while horizonline used the stock EF-S rebel lens (save time and weight). She ended up taking many of the photos I wish I could have taken (including some of the ones seen here), given that I often had to stand halfway across the plaza to even be able to get enough of what I wanted into a shot.

Back from SoCal

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I had a good weekend with d down in LA, where we toted our twin Canon Digital Rebels around and snapped photos of everything vaguely building-like. From my previous entry, you can tell that I spent some time at the beach. We also spent part of the weekend watching a table 20 LA'ers go ga-ga over the new PSP, eating dinner with my Aunt and Uncle, and discovering that, contrary to common sense, other Yale women have dated MIT men (Friendster collision!).

Most of our weekend, though, had more of an architectural theme as we saw Gehry's home in Santa Monica and the Getty on Saturday. It was my first visit to Gehry's home, d's second; d's first visit to the Getty, my second. On Sunday we went to the Renzo Piano exhibit at LACMA, which should be there awhile considering how much money they raised to build Piano's future extension to the museum.

I just upgraded to a Flickr Pro account, which means I should have plenty of storage space to blog aplenty about Gehry's home and the Getty (no photos of the Piano exhibit allowed), but for now, the beach entry will have to do as I must find a way to sleep off my Red Bull and coffee.

LACMA fun

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I went with my Aunt and Uncle to see the "Renoir to Matisse: The Eye of Duncan Phillips" exhibit at LACMA over my Thanksgiving weekend. While I enjoyed the exhibit, I think I would have enjoyed it more if the title wasn't such a misnomer; it should have been titled "A Renoir to A Matisse, with stuff inbetween," as the exhibit only featured one painting each of its headline artists. If they used a more accurate title they might have also charged less and it would have been less crowded.

The Renoir was quite good, but the Matisse was not one of my favorites (I'm much more fond of the Red Fish from the Pushkin exhibit that LACMA held). There were several Van Gogh paintings that I liked (all three from the last two years of his life), including one of a grass field that I appreciated for the way it changed under different distances of viewing. There were two Klees that I liked as well (and two I didn't like), which is unusual given that, in general, I've never liked his stuff. Also in the collection was a Degas dancers painting that I liked much more than the ones at the Norton Simon.

After we finished the exhibit we wandered into the permanent collection, where they had displayed some Gaugins, Renoirs, and Cezannes that I had missed in my previous visit. In some ways, these were more interesting than the ones in the Duncan Philips exhibit, as some of them were outside their typical style (at least in my experience); there were also more of them than in the Phillips exhibit. I also took another look at the de La Tour Magdalen with the Smoking Flame painting to get some closer shots.

I've posted a photo gallery of the entire experience (only the first twelve are from the Duncan Philips exhibit, the rest are from the permanent collection). With some of the paintings I was diligent enough to snap a photo of the placard, but within the actual Renoir-Matisse exhibit photos "weren't allowed," so the need to be discrete overrode documentation.

Tall Buildings

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I like architecture exhibits, so I found this online exhibit of tall buildings by MOMA to be rather cool. It shows various completed, under construction, and never-to-be-built designs, with details on each design as well as comparisons between them based on height and space. Several of the WTC designs are outlined, as well as numerous designs around the world (London/Seoul/Hong Kong/etc...).

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

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LACMA has a permanent exhibit of Japanese art that is rather cool. They built a building specifically for it that uses fiberglass filters on the windows and running water to create the effect that you are in a Japanese country-side home surrounded by shoji screens. One thing that I thought was cool is they had a tiger/dragon scroll. You can click on the image to see a larger version that shows some of the brush detail - I think the dragon is particularly cool. In the extended entry I also posted some pictures of Bishamonten, the Guardian of the North, squashing a demon beneath his feet, and the Carefree Hotei, painted by Zen Monk Fugai Ekun.
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