Thursday, March 24, 2005

Daniel Buren @ The Guggenheim: An Early Look

A New York moment: getting in to the opening nite gala for the Daniel Buren installation / exibit @ the Guggenheim Museum. Outside was the blustery snow of Ole Man Winter's last gasp; inside the crystaline reflections of a 100 foot-high mirror spanning halfway across the huge atrrium of the museum. I'm told that the view during the day is stunning: sunlight streaming though the oculus (which is otherwise sheided from direct sunlight). A house of mirrors, a fun house side show, an experiment in space/time... a cubistic vision of an old friend? All of these come to mind as one tries to make sense of what is so confounding visually as to defy easy definiton and instead, one should just surrender to the senses and enjoy the sheer novelty.
Read more about the exhibit in the NY Times article by Linda Yablonsky, excerpted below:
Mr. Buren's central piece at the Guggenheim, of course, is no little shack. For the artist, it represents an imaginary cube large enough to contain the entire museum. As engineered from the artist's drawings by a Parisian architect, Jean-Christophe Denise, and the Guggenheim's technical designer, Stephen Engelman, the structure's two adjoining walls meet at the exact center of the rotunda, making it appear as if a corner of the cube had been thrust into the void from the street. Short, bright-green vertical stripes resembling film sprockets line the balustrades of all six tiers, giving the Guggenheim's spiral the look of a giant zoetrope about to go into a serious spin.

Indeed, visitors will need to get their sea legs before starting up the ramps. What the mirrors will show, besides their own reflections, is a building that appears to shift its weight at almost every step. Because of a natural distortion caused by the play of mirrors against the vertiginous ramps, there are moments when it becomes difficult to distinguish the architecture from its mirror image, inducing a sense of vertigo.

I was teaching a Photoshop class at the museum where my students were re-touching photos of the mirrored cube and sure enough, several of my students (all adults) experienced a nausea not unlike sea-sickness as a result of the dizzying perspectives on their computer screens: a "virtual vertigo" if you will.

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