Building Outdoor Musical Theater

I finally made it to see and hear Song 1 displayed on the outside of the Hirshhorn Museum before it closed on May 20th. In fact that was my mother’s day present. What a great idea to use the outside of buildings as movie screens. This one, however, was not flat and that’s where the technological wizardry came in. Here’s my previous post regarding the optics.

It was a beautiful clear night with a slight breeze. All ages, all kinds of people were out, hand-in-hand, in groups, with families and individually, enjoying  the same experience with perhaps different meanings for each. It was one of those moments in time where you felt the community stopping the hectic pace around them and coming together to enjoy the beauty of the moment. Here are some video clips that I have spliced. Of course you had to be there to get the full sense but one takeaway is I can’t seem to get the hauntingly, hip, “I Only Have Eyes for You” song out of my head. You can hear and see the street activity with buses whizzing by and eerie vocals of Tilda Swinton…..I tried but couldn’t not get my videos to reduce in size to be able to post so here’s the best I could find to give you and idea. This is the official one and much better than I could do anyway:

This isn’t only happening in America. Look at this clip on the outside of the Sydney Opera House.

Sydney opera house_as seen on Art Is Everywhere blog

Reminds me a little of Invasion of the Super Humans — I mean Virgens. The description of the Live Festival is pretty hysterical:

When the festival director of Vivid Live, Fergus Linehan, first told people he had to audition 30 Virgens, he got some pretty strange looks. Until he explained they were the all-girl rock choir in the Australian premiere of Stop the Virgens, the ”psycho opera” stage show created by Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O.

”The Virgens must be supplied locally – it’s on their rider, next to four bottles of high-quality vodka,” Linehan jokes.

Right Round Here

I’ve been wanting to report on the newest Hirshhorn Museum installation and now that it has started, I finally can. It’s a continuous movie called SONG 1 by Doug Aitken who uses “liquid architecture” to project continuously around the outside of the round structure that is the architecture of Hirshhorn museum.

doug-aitken_Hirshhorn_song1, as seen on Art Is Everywhere blog

Here’s what it looks like now that it’s actually rolling, every night from sundown until midnight until May 13th. The movie has about 30 – 40 different covers by Beck, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, among other musicians of the 1934 song, I Only Have eyes for You. It is a series of moving pictures with the collaboration of music — not unlike a music video playing in an outdoor movie ampitheatre. Remember drive-ins? They’re baaaaack! Actually, I like the days of drive-in movies. They remind me of less complicated times.  Several years ago, we were looking for ways to project movies for community gatherinsg for our civic group but the idea faded when we couldn’t find the best outdoor place to gather with an available projection screen/surface. One difference with Song 1 is that you have to move to see the entire “movie” so you have to interact and engage to get the full effect.

Song 1 by Doug Aitkens, as seen on Art Is Everywhere

Song 1 was achieved with 11 different projectors strategically placed around the perimeter so that trees and sculptures would not interfere with the projections. You have to walk around to see the entire movie you you’ll never see the same thing twice in doing so, so it is a different experience each time when it is viewed.

hirshhorn projection by Doug Aitken, as seen on Art Is everywhere

Philip Kennicott’s review is very insightful:

The song thus emphasizes the basic dualities of the whole work, the play of surface and depth, the flow of time or the fixation of looking. But it also suggests a kind of narcissism, being so lost in one’s own desires that one doesn’t notice the rest of the universe….By contrast, “Song 1” feels spectacular but disconnected, abstract, cold and a bit remote. Aitken is a major artist. And by design, his “Song 1” isn’t meant to be seen or digested all at once.

I look forward to taking it all in soon. With spring like weather here, this could be a delightful night concert to see & hear.  See more photos here.

Doug Aitken_song1 via WP, Matt McClain, as seen on Art Is Everywhere

Doug Aitken Song1 via Washington Post. Photo by Matt McClain

Pop-Ups Plus

I recently saw notice for and exhibition called, Paper Engineering: Fold, Pull, Pop and Turn, about pop-up books at The National Museum of American History. I’ve always enjoyed pop-up books, so I hope I can see this. The exhibit contains book from the Smithsonian Institutions’ Library’s

Pop-up book, One Red Dot. Courtesy NMAH, seen on Art Is Everywhere blogHere’s the NMAH’s quite fascinating video on the subject and how involved a pop-up project may be. I have an even greater appreciation of a pop-up book after watching this. It’s truly a work of art and a paper engineering and folding feat.

If you’d like to try a more simple book construction, check out the Altered Book Basics, as a project from a children’s librarian and mom on Nature Books Art.

Example of an Altered Book from Nature Books Art as seen on Art Is Everywere

Example of an Altered Book from Nature Books Art

While I’m mentioning exhibitions, here few more I’d like to see:

1) ColorForms examines how artists use color within multi aspect of media. Hirshhorn – Jan 2, 2011.

2) Graphic Masters III: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, shows artist’ illustrated lists, among other works at the Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture – August 8, 2010.

3) While there, check out the magnificent Kogod Courtyard and also see Norman Rockwell, Telling Stories from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, July 2 – January 2, 2011.

NormanRockwell Telling Stories exhibit at National Museum of American Art on Art Is Everywhere blog

Norman Rockwell Telling Stories exhibit at National Museum of American Art

4) Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration, Corcoran Gallery of Art, through September 12. I’ve always liked Chuck Close.

Magnetic Movie

This is a follow up to a previous post that I wrote about the Magnetic Movie in September on exhibits regarding the “faux” documentary about magnetic fields and how they relate to real scientists’ discoveries regarding the Semiconductor. It can be seen in the “Black Box” at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden through December 14th.

Magnetic Movie by Ruth Jarman and Joseph Gherhardt

I’ll have to not only check out this movie before it leaves but also the After Hours at the Hirshhorn, which I had on my list but completely missed this year. The last one was November 7th.

after-hours-hirshhorn-museum. Photo by Colin S. Johnson

I can’t mention this without adding that After Hours, the movie is hilarious and still ranks as one of my favorites. I first saw it in Paris, when I was studying at Parsons and my American friends and I got the jokes but for some reason the French did not — making it all the more funny at the time — even though it was a very “French-like” movie, kinda artsy and very quirky.

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