The InsiderOne Daily Report

  Friday, April 20, 2001


InsiderOne's Michael Goldberg writes: The film "Pollock" includes a gallery opening at which some of Jackson Pollock's amazing paintings are being seen for the first time. Far from blown away by what were, at the time, paintings unlike anything anyone had seen before, a number of people walk out, complaining that the work isn't art. The day after I saw "Pollock," I made my way to the fourth floor of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, where I found people laughing at some of the works in the ambitious "010101: Art in Technological Times" exhibit. Some things never change. They seemed particularly amused by the work of the German artist Jochem Hendricks, who creates drawings by wearing a helmet-like scanner that records eye movements. I was impressed by some of his work, particularly Eye, a newspaper comprising drawings made while Hendricks read the "Eye" entertainment section of the San Jose Mercury News. The exhibit, which also includes installations and pieces by such artists as Karin Sander, Brian Eno, Mark Napier, Adam Ross, Annette Begerow and many, many more, is both wonderful and thought-provoking. Eno's piece — electric trees created with mirrors and white Christmas-tree lights in a dark room — is beautiful and meditative. To make the soundtrack, Eno took a piece of music he had created and placed some of the audio tracks on each of four CDs. Since the CDs, as they play, aren't synced up, the effect is a piece of music that never sounds quite the same twice. I have been listening to (and occasionally viewing) the work of Brian Eno since his days in Roxy Music. Some of his approaches to remaining creatively fresh are things I've found useful. Encountering an absolutely wonderful piece of experiential art constructed from Christmas-tree lights is the kind of thing that makes you think about how you approach your own art, and life. Take nothing for granted, I think to myself. The most seemingly mundane, tired objects and ideas can be transformed. At SFMOMA there was a darkened room in the exhibit. On one wall, according to some notes attached to a wall outside the room, was projected a piece called "Constant Memory, Entering the Surface" by Annette Begerow. One photograph had been digitized. The image projected was the result of the digitized photo being "sampled and resampled continuously and randomly in real time by a computer," according to the exhibit catalog. A man was sitting on a bench in the room. A woman was standing next to the bench. I walked in and sat down on the bench. I stared at the screen. What I saw appeared to be nothing, projected onto the screen. Off-white. After perhaps a minute, the woman left the room. I noticed that the man was now snoring. I decided to fiddle with my camera. They don't allow you to take pictures in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which of course makes it a kind of game that only I'm playing (well, not just me; I caught a guy there taking some pictures with a digital camera). Can I take a few cool pictures while in the museum, and not get caught by the guards patrolling everywhere? It's not that I want to make copies of the art — it's that a museum can be a particularly inspiring place to take photographs. I took a photograph I'm quite fond of on my last visit. With my camera now hanging around my neck, but artfully concealed under the fleece overshirt I was wearing, I looked again at the screen. Nothing. Now, I thought, is this what I'm supposed to be seeing, or is there something wrong with the projector? The man was still snoring. I got up and left the room. I walked through another exhibit, titled "The Fiction Between 1999 & 2000." Shanghai-based Hu Jie Ming had, in the 24 hours between midnight December 31, 1999 and midnight January 1, 2000, captured images of Web pages and television broadcasts. These images — hundreds of them — had been turned into transparencies, which had then been hung from ceiling to floor, and these "walls" of images used to create a maze that people can walk through. There was something beautiful about walking through the maze, and looking through several walls of black and clear images, and beyond, to where I could see one of the guards, and a young man sitting at a computer typing, and others wandering about. I thought about taking a picture of this documentation of one century's ending and another's beginning, but then got scared that I'd be caught. Sometimes you just don't want to push through the fear. The most fun exhibit involved a barcode scanner. There was a translucent box, perhaps seven feet tall by five feet wide. Inside were a fan, a radio, a cheap synthesizer, a bunch of light bulbs and some other stuff. And wires. When you placed something with a barcode about five inches from the little barcode scanner that was attached to the outside of the box, one of the things inside the box would be activated. The barcode on my postage stamp sheet started the radio playing; my Blockbuster video rental card caused the light bulbs to light up. Some other card I dug out of my wallet started the fan. Cool. People would walk up to the thing, then start searching their purse or jacket or other clothing to find a barcode. I wanted to hear the radio one more time, so I held the postage stamps up again.

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Michael Goldberg is the president of He founded Addicted To Noise in 1994.

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