Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Odds and Ends: Illumination

I attended a meeting last week that gathered artist input on how the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities could make a better community for artists and public works of art. A lot of things were discussed, and I wasn't much of a contributor; prior to the meeting I'd been suffering a bit of insomnia and attended without eating a substantial breakfast or consuming a cup of tea.

Anyway, these two or three consultants gave a slide show of other great works of public art in cities throughout the United States (and a couple abroad), and they showed this fabulous work of people walking on sensors in a museum. These sensors were linked to a display of LEDs on the outside of the museum.

I just opened M.M. Lloyd's newsletter -- I'm going to pull from it. Lenny Campello does, so why can't I?

"WASHINGTON, DC: ART is ELECTRIC - MODERN STYLE - In the concourse walkway between the West and East Buildings of the National Gallery of Art there is an art installation of light-emitting diodes (LEDs). As you walk through or stand gliding along the people moving conveyers in this underground walkway, approximately 42,000 computers programmed LEDs chase along this pathway, fading, brightening, twinkling, and undulating. The art installation is by the sculptor Leo Villareal. The lights gyrate and cascade as the architectural fountain waterfall splash down along combed stone facing behind a glass wall at the cafĂ© end of this venue. It takes nearly two minutes to travel the 200 foot length space, but collection wise you’re connecting centuries of cultural history, from classic to modern. At the Smithsonian American Art Museum there are sixty-two hundred LEDs in a twenty-eight foot sculpture created by Jenny Holzer. This floor to ceiling column emits more than a day’s worth of spinning and changing words and phrases. A timely paced city walk of from 15 to 20 minutes connects these two venues in time and place."

I couldn't tell you if this work at NGA and SAAM are by the same artists/collaborators as were mentioned in the consultant slide show. Regardless, I'm pumped to see it because there is a need within fine arts to get off the wall (figuratively, literally) and move away from being completely about the visual. In my brief threads through this DC art community, I get the sensation that a lot of artists struggle with this concept and realization. Some artists abandon the idea: how do you make a painting inhabit REAL space? Some go whole hog into it, rejecting the traditional as some sort of primitive archetype that belongs in a diaper. Some straddle the fence, hoping they don't slip and get racked by consequence.

In other "off the wall" news, The Arlington Arts Center is having an opening this weekend, and I regret the fact I'll be unable to attend (I'll be in Charlotte trying not to get "racked by consequence"). I was rejected by this show, and as I am now learning, guest curators not only look to see which works are good and fit a theme, but to see also which works fit well together. I have no clue if the three jurors for this exhibition even liked my work (and the point is moot, because it doesn't work with what they chose), but I am excited to see this exhibition. Three performance artists and one installation artist are amongst the six works exhibited: pretty bold!

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