Say what you will about Yoko Ono (I happen to love her).
The more I think about how there are more museums than ever, and less objects in these museums than ever; I begin to do a run through in my head of exhibitions with very few objects and how, subjectively, successful I find them. Probably the most recent [basically] non-object piece/exhibit I’ve seen is Ono’s “Voice Piece for Soprano” at MoMA. The piece is made of a large empty room, very little directional wall text, a microphone on a stand in the center of the room which is flanked by two speakers, and you–the participant. I spent almost two hours on a Saturday sitting in front of the piece; watching countless elderly women hobble up to the mic and scream at the top of their lungs. It was really intense. I keep thinking about this piece in relation to the reading from last week, which explained the various reasons people choose to participate or not to participate. My thought is that Ono’s piece offers an ideal model for a participatory piece because it is straightforward. “Scream“. It is easy to do, and not screaming makes you look like a weirdo. Everyone is doing it (perhaps participatory museums should rely more on peer pressure). Also, it feels amazing to get to scream at the top of your lungs.
MOS Afterparty at PS1
I went to PS1 last weekend to explore the MOS Afterparty architecture exhibit that won the MoMA/PS1 Young Architects Program this year. With a budget of $70,000, the contestants were to incorporate shade, water and seating as components in their projects. The mammoth design, resembling a relative of a known “woolly” animal is on display in the front courtyard/exhibition space. It consists of multiple teepee-esqe, hut-like structures of different sizes with the tops leveled off, allowing the sun to penetrate the display, while keeping the covered areas shaded. A metal framework, covered by a mesh overlay and a layer of what seems to be hair, connects the different conical elements to create one structure. The skin of the shelter, which I referred to as hair, is actually a dark, thatched textile said to create its own microclimate and protect from the hot summer sun. A series of “cooling chimneys” incorporated into the structure, as well as the exisitng concrete walls of the gallery further employ shade and cooling. As I approached the exhibit, I was shocked at first by the hair. As I meandered through, however, I embraced the experience as a grand space which enables the viewer through the focus on the cast shadows through the each opening above. Furthermore, the climate control, which was a large part of the program requirements is very apparent. The space was used for a music series this summer and what an interesting venue that would have been. I am sorry to have missed it. The exhibit will be open until October 26.
As I think further about what this exhibition means for the future, “art as space” comes to mind. The tent-like structure itself, ironically, is reminiscent of a somewhat primitive lifestyle, but being able to walk through an exhibit of this size, interact with it and observe it as a habitat, speaks toward the future. This “urban shelter” as the designers refer to their project, is an interactive environment on display.
What is museum of the future? What shape will museums take in 10 years, in 20 years, in 40 years? If you are in graduate school right now then this represents the time span of your active professional career when you will likely lay the groundwork for the next generation of museums. In 2050 what will The Cooper-Hewitt look like? The American Museum of Natural History? The Museum of the City of New York? How can the museum of the future take into account the ever-increasing speed of social, geographic and technological transformation that we are witnessing? How can the range of design professionals specializing in museums help with the necessary transformations that these institutions must undergo. What new strategies and techniques will they employ?