I went to the galleries at Chelsea last week with my Digital New Media class. Some of the stuff I saw was really amazing, while most of it was pretty odd to say the least. Those who know me, know that I don't really have a care for "artsy" things. I dislike standing in front of paintings or sculptures, attempting (and failing) to discover the meaning behind the piece. However, add some interactivity into the mix, and suddenly and art piece can become interesting, or perhaps, even a game.
I'll break down each of the galleries I went to, tell you why I liked or disliked them, and focus on the pieces that had a little bit of a gaming edge to them, as those were cool.
You see that bag? It looks fancy. Thankfully you can tell that this is an art piece because it's placed on a pedestal. If someone were to put it on the floor, I would have thought that someone had forgotten their bag. The interesting thing about it is that when you open it up a random noise comes out of the bag. When I opened it up, it barked. I like the attempt at interactivity but I think putting an actual dog in a bag would be a lot cooler.
This was an interesting concept that was taken one step too far. R. Luke Dubois looked at the State of the Union addresses for each President of the United States and compiled the words they said the most. Using that data, he placed the words on a big piece of paper in the form of an eye chart. The bigger the word is, the more times the President said it. It was a neat idea because just by seeing the biggest word you could guess what President it was. One of the words I saw was "Terror" and I immediately knew that it was our current President Bush.
However, what ruined the whole exhibit was the droning "ah" sound in the background. Apparently, that sound is the sound of a group of people singing the national anthem, but the song was stretched out to last 4 years. Yes, it's crazy, and also annoying.
This was legitimately awesome. Artist David Fried made a stone sculpture that reacts to sound. The balls move around whenever it hears a sound, even a footstep. Surprisingly though, this sculpture contains no electronic equipment and the artist is keeping mum on how it works. It's fun watching the balls bounce around and each different sized ball has its own personality in a sense. The big ones move slow and droopy, while the little ones bounce around like crazy constantly staying near the bigger balls. I stared at this for a couple of minutes.
Michael Zansky: The Western Lands:
I was confused by this exhibit. There were pieces of cloth lying on tables and big lenses placed in front of them, distorting the view. Some of the cloth was spinning and when you looked through the lens, you saw lots of colors and lights moving around. I tried real hard to get the point of this exhibit but as soon as I saw little dragon figurines and a sculpture of George Washington's head on one of the spinning tables, I just gave up.
Frank Gerhy building:
This building is just off the West Side Highway and it's almost completely glass on the outside. At the right time of day, the building's walls will almost be transparent; that is, of course, unless the windows aren't clean. The neat thing about the building however, is that an interactive screen will run the length of the building that people can see as they pass by either by walking or by car. The screen will advertise various products.
This artists made a film that put undomesticated animals (such as owls, buffalo or tigers) inside area they would normally not be in, like bedrooms. In one part of the film, a tiger walked into a room and ripped apart some pillows. I was curious and slightly entertained since I do enjoy national geographic from time to time. The picture above was a particularly pretty part of the film. The owl looks very confused at the situation since he probably did not know why there were feathers falling from above. Regardless, the film was pretty.
As you can see, the only piece I really enjoyed during my trip to Chelsea was the one that was most interactive: The David Fried stone sculpture. Since I am a gamer at heart, I knew I would be drawn to art pieces that involve some sort of input by me. Yelling at some balls satisfied that itch.