Friday, September 09, 2005

Hot Hot Hot

Washington, D.C. is hot. Hot hot hot. I'm not surprised, of course, but it is a rude shock to go from the 30 degree nights in the Adirondacks to the 90% humidity of our nation's capital swamp.

Today Mary, Anne and I visited the Hirshorn to see the Visual Music exhibit that I had missed when it came to MOCA in Los Angeles last year. I was a little apprehensive, having seen mixed reviews, but it turned out to be pretty darned fabulous. It was basically in three parts: early abstract art like Kandinsky that "aspired to the condition of music", mid-century experimental filmmakers like Fischinger and the Whitney brothers, and then more recent computer-based sound installations. The first part seemed a bit forced (although I do like my Richter), and the third was predictable, but it was really amazing to see all of these very rare experimental films. The Whitney brothers were particularly interesting. Like a lot of their crowd, they were inspired by Schoenberg to find, basically, visual serialism. So they decided that a point of light was more or less the equivalent of a tone, and then did a bunch of crazy abstract maneuvering of points of light, in the manner of tone rows. All of this before computers, so they built these gigantic mechanical contraptions involving pendlums, stencils, and other assorted detritus. I hope I can buy some of their films on DVD or something, it seems like not only an important modernist artificact to know about, but also a really good teaching tool for discussing, say, Milton Babbit.

Only one more week in DC, and then I am back home!

1 comment:

marcie said...

Glad you'll be back soon, even if it does herald the death of summer...btw, I love, love, love Kandinsky....my favorite artist until recently. Can't believe I missed it.