Tuesday, January 2, 2018

on beyond New Year's

On New Year's Eve, I followed an occasional tradition and went to a party. Had some rather geographical conversations. Helped a couple people peering over Google Maps on a smartphone figure out where the Badlands are. Learned I'm not the only person I know to have circumnavigated an entire country (the same one) on foot. Do we make people guess the country? We do.

And here I am thereat (the party, I mean):

with good old friends Cynthia G. (l.) and Emma H. (r.). Photo taken by equally longstanding friend Lucy H. (no relation).

On New Year's Day, I followed another occasional tradition and visited a museum, this time the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, in the company of my visiting brother.

Of the numerous exhibits, two seemed of particular note. An exhibit of photos by Walker Evans left me with two predominant thoughts: 1) a wish that Evans had chosen to make slightly larger-sized prints of his photos; 2) a realization that if all sentences containing the word "vernacular" were removed from the museum's explanatory captions, 3/4 of the text would disappear. Doing the same for "utilitarian" would take care of most of the rest. Were I the artist, I would vaguely dislike being so casually potted.

A more amusing exhibit consisted of sculptures that make sound. The most sonically interesting, but visually tedious, of these were the electronic hum devices of the only artist in the exhibit I'd heard of before, Brian Eno, someone I'd never thought of as a visual artist and still don't. Others included elaborate wooden tabletop mechanical contraptions that ran on electric motors and made various clicks and pops while doing so; spiky head-sized balls, hanging from the ceiling, which were supposed to emit music if you held your own head up close, but which were more aspirational than successful; and by far the most popular item in the exhibit, the water chimes created by CĂ©leste Boursier-Mougenot, a small artificial pond full of porcelain bowls of assorted sizes, which would float around and clank into each other at assorted speeds, producing a continuing random tintinnabulation of assorted pitches and dynamics, rather like unto a wind chime. It had apparently been doing this undisturbed for some time, as most of the bowls were full of dust bunnies. Nevertheless it was very restful and contemplative, and here I am restfully contemplating it:

Photo by Ben B. (definitely a relation).

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