Thursday, November 20, 2008

XIV: Only in Dreams

Everytime I experience a new piece of art that I enjoy, I can't help but get the feeling that I've been missing out on this secret world of creativity for the last 27 years. This past week has been full of incredible artistic experiences... I have to keep figuratively pinching myself, just to make sure I won't wake up from what feels like a continuous lucid dream of epic proportions.

This is me declaring that I am officially in love with art. I am also in love with dreaming. So when I met Luke Jerram at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) today, it was almost impossible to NOT fall in love with him too.

This artist, who also happened to propose to his (now) wife with the first-ever phonographic engagement ring, is the best thing to happen to sleeping and dreaming since the invention of the goose-down pillow. Some artists use oil on canvas; others use pencil on paper, light on film, or spray paint on cardboard boxes.

But Luke Jerram doesn't. He creates mental pictures on the spaces of our dreams. This is the Dream Director (I borrowed this photo from his website):

Participants of this art installation are invited to sleep over, inside the gallery, while an electronic eye mask monitors periods of rapid eye movement. When the computer senses that a person is in REM sleep, various sounds (like rushing water or chirping birds) plays through speakers in the sleep pod, consequently manipulating the dreams of the person sleeping. And apparently, it works!

Unfortunately, I didn't get to try it myself because the waiting list for this installation is super long... but I did get to review some of the data collected after last night's session. Everyone who's tried it has had remarkable dreaming results and really, I just find the whole concept for the work incredible. Think about it, you can see a piece of artwork while you're sleeping... that's just too cool. As for the artist's goal in his works: screw traditional paintings, it's all about exploring alternative realms of "perceptual locations." Brilliant.

Speaking of non-traditional artistic spaces, I also got to visit 2 installations by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (that artist I was really excited about a couple entries ago...)

On Monday afternoon, I saw his "Frequency and Volume" installation at the Barbican Curve gallery. He utilizes flood lights to cast shadows against the wall as you walk past. Then, depending on the size, shape and movement of your shadow, a computer uses its measurement to tune-into various radio stations. As you move around, the volume of the radio also changes.

The second one, "Under Scan" took place in Trafalgar Square... again utilizing flood lights and shadows. In this installation, a video image of another person pops up within your shadow and starts waving to you or doing other weird things. If you walk away from it, your "shadow person" goes to sleep. But if you continue to pay attention to it, it will continue to interact with you.

I've had so much fun with Lozano-Hemmer's works that I'm actually doing a theoretical & critical presentation on him for one of my classes. This whole "new media" thing is just amazing when you look at it in an artistic context. I wish you all could see this stuff... but both installations will have moved on by the time some of you come out to visit.

As for other things I've done this week:

I saw the Annie Leibovitz exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery... which was obviously great. I got to see the original prints for the photos she did of Queen Elizabeth and a whole bunch of her celebrity portraits for Vanity Fair, including this one:

This past weekend, I went to Brighton to see another exhibit... but my friends and I decided to make a day out of it since it IS England's favorite beach town. Oddly enough, it reminded me a lot of San Francisco and Santa Monica put together - lots of hilly neighborhoods squashed into just a few square miles, complete with pier and carnival rides.

Last, but certainly not least, I saw Death Cab For Cutie at the Carling Academy Brixton. As expected, it was a perfect show... especially when they ended with a 4-song encore of my would-be requests: What Sarah Said, Title and Registration, The Sound of Settling, and Transatlantacism. Brilliant again.

So as you can see, it's been a pretty busy week for me. It's weird because all these things I'm doing are relevant to my education... it just so happens that I'm thoroughly enjoying it all. Basically, I'm getting a master's degree for experiencing a whole bunch of fun stuff. I think I really lucked out in choosing this major... who knows, I might even come out of this wanting to become a curator. I just hope it isn't all a dream...

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