I had a lazy day around the University of Washington campus today — enjoyed browsing the magazine selection on University Avenue, gobbled up a lunch sushi plate, and then made my way to the Henry Art Museum to see their exhibition, WOW (The Work of the Work). I had wanted to visit after I saw a writeup about an exhibit that featured a small circular room, with an oval cut in the ceiling exposing the sky. I learned that this room (Skyspace), created by James Turrell, was only one of several excellent experiences.
I really enjoyed an installation entitled Pollen from Hazelnut, which was a large room, with a white floor, with a yellow center painting on the floor… painted such that it made it look soft… like a carpet, or pollen, I suppose.
Everyone will want to see, and enjoy, a visual treat by Olafur Eliasson, called Your Compound Eye, a sort of prismatic cone that you look into.
There were several other installations, probably called something like ‘new media’, ‘visual media’ or the like. Short looping movies, etc. Also some traditional art such as sculpture, photographs, and some paintings.
My favorite installation, by far, was entitled Tall Ships by Gary Hill. It is hard to explain, but if you are in Seattle you absolutely must see it. You walk toward a very dark room, and then a museum attendant directs you to walk toward a pitch black hallway. After your eyes adjust a little bit, you start to sense that the hallways is long (it ends up being ~70 feet long!), and as you start to walk down the hallway, you notice faint spots of light on each side of you. When you stop to look at the light, they start to move, and suddenly you start to see someone walking toward you. If you stand their long enough, you see a person (old, young, male, female) walk right toward you and then stop and look at you. If you move to the left, the image looks that way, and vice versa. As you move away, the image looks toward you leaving, and then loses interest and walks back from whence they came. It is a very personal experience, because of the darkness, and the interaction of sorts. I didn’t ask, but I’m assuming their are sensors of some kind to figure out where you are standing (left/center/right, near/far) and then they are using CD-ROM projections of the people. In any case, it was exceptional — makes me want to return for more!
One more note — the Henry Art Gallery is collaborating with Western Bridge on WOW. Western Bridge is a free museum in South Seattle — I can’t wait to visit to see more works by these, and similar, artists.
If you go, tell them I sent you.