Monday, April 29, 2002

Yesterday we went to the San Jose Art Museum (yes, we've got one - small in comparison to the museums in San Francisco, but they do get some good shows). The featured exhibit was called "Is the Medium the Message?"

This, of course, picks up from Marshall McLuhan's writings. He believed that the way we acquire information (the medium) is as important as the information itself (the message) in the way it effects us.

Anyway, a couple of excellent items that bear recording here. First and foremost was "Third Eye." Walking up to it, it looks just like an old red door in the wall, with the "Third Eye" sign above it. As you approach it, however, you hear music (Janis Joplin, the Doors, the Band, etc.). Look through the peep hole and you're transported back in time to a head shop from the last '60s. Done with miniatures, it was an incredible experience that I just couldn't get enough of.

I kept going back to look through the peep hole and examine more of what was going on there (including a strobe light, black light posters, a working ceiling fan, and more) and to listen to the music. The artist (Michael McMillen?) is also a set designer, and has worked on such films as Close Encounters and Blade Runner.

Another piece that bears recording was a set of old photographs - one of the artists mother, and one of the artists father - encased in Lucite. Okay, that sounds normal enough, but it doesn't end there. The photograph of the mother fades in and out of view in rhythm to a recording of the artist breathing. The photograph of the father flashes on and off in beat to a recording of the artist's heart.

Finally, is a more traditional (well, modern photo-realistic) painting, by James Doolin, called Shopping Mall. It's an aerial view the crossing of a pedestrian mall and a street, in a giant "X." What made this stand out to us was the location. It's the Third Street Promenade and Arizona Street in Santa Monica from about 1973. Clearly visible are stores we each remember, particularly Leslie, who grew up in the Santa Monica/Venice area, including her old optometrist (whom she hated).

The whole exhibit was quite excellent, those were just a few of the highlights, from our points of view.

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