Trip Through Time in New York City

Using a MIDI keyboard as an interactive interface, and Isadora to program the projection, this installation allows you to have a seat and take a trip through time in the historic New York subway system. After visiting the Transit museum I took a few photographs at the angle which you would see when sitting inside the train. I then photoshopped the windows to be see through so I could bring those files into Isadora and project archival footage street and underground scenes as though it were happening out the windows.

Trolley background

A photograph of a photograph of the inside of Brooklyn’s above ground trolly cars, circa 1880’s.

Old subway no background

A 1930’s underground train.

Subway no background

Inside of a 1950’s era subway.

70's subway background

Subway car with a 1970’s era interior — still in use today!

newer subway no background

Modern MTA subway car.

Washington Square Arch Through Time

For our final my group, Alan, Xiping, and I, created projection of the Washington Square Arch that can be wiped away by hand to reveal newer images using the programs Isadora and Leap Motion with Processing code. As you wipe away the older image to reveal the new, sounds play that correspond to the time of the photographs. Starting with a projection of the arch in the 1880’s when horse drawn buggies would drive right through the park to current day when the sounds of the city are much different. What we hoped to reveal is how much history architecture can hold.

Although we had some trouble coming up with ideas for the final, partially due to the overwhelming expanse of the subject, it became clear that we had a few themes in mind. Below are the common notes we used when meeting to discuss our ideas:


IDEAS

Language vs Reality

  • The “real world” is to a large extent unconsciously built up in the language habits of the group… We see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do because the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation.
  • Explore how people’s cultural backgrounds affect their most basic cognitive processes: categorization, learning, causal reasoning and even attention and perception.

Online vs Offline Identity

False conceptions of truth based on memories we falsify

Creating something out of nothing

  • an image of a face or something else appears only when the smoke is there.
  • smoke and mirrors : (definition)  the obscuring or embellishing of the truth of a situation with misleading or irrelevant information.
        • What you see isn’t always what you get (also a theme)
        • gaslighting
          • create a temporary piece of art that is destroyed at the end.

Themes

  • Language, Culture, Memory

Methods

Projection mapping, 3D projection mapping?

Projection to smoke

LINKS / MISC.

http://projection-mapping.org/thecave/

Use projection mapping of bending a space to set up the scene, and then project voice recognized words onto smoke

Anthony McCall — pioneer works –

Gaslighting: 1. (slang; origin UK) To manipulate someone psychologically such that they question their own sanity. … The phrase “to gaslight” someone (to deliberately drive someone insane by psychologically manipulating their environment and tricking someone into believing that they are insane), was derived from the film.”

    *The term “gaslighting” comes from a 1938 stage play called Gaslight, in which a husband attempts to drive his wife crazy by dimming the lights in their home (which were natural gas-fueled fixtures), then denying that the lights had changed brightness when the wife asks him about it. Link

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_Light

…..

Immersive interactive experience where a person walks into small space and invited to interact briefly with an object in the dark. They have to say outloud what they think the object they just interacted with was but if they get anything wrong the space around them tightens physically and a flash of light (playing on “gaslighting”) goes off. The more they get wrong the more annoyances happen. (could be something obvious too, for example, bringing someone into a small space and asking them to explain something like a red apple in as many words as they can, and slowly we can tell them they’re wrong in a lot of different ways using noise and light).

3 Types of Memory: Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic Memory

https://getweyland.com/pages/3-types-of-memory-visual-auditory-and-kinesthetic-memory

A major breakthrough in visual memory research

http://www.olapic.com/resources/major-breakthrough-visual-memory-research/

“When a tiger starts to move towards you, you need to know whether it is something you are actually seeing or whether it’s just something that you remember or have imagined.”

Memory, a fundamental cognitive skill

https://www.cognifit.com/memory

“Types of Memory: Depending on how long, type of information, and the sensory organ”

Things We Want

Interactivity

A play on memory

Meeting Notes

Good vs bad memories

Ordered memory

Three types of memory:

Sensory Memory.

  • Short-Term (Working) Memory.
  • Long-Term Memory. Declarative (Explicit) and Procedural (Implicit) Memory. Episodic and Semantic Memory. Retrospective and Prospective Memory.

How to create a false memory in the audience?


As you can see from our notes, our ideas were a bit scattered and needed some honing in on. We really wanted to convey the concept of memory and I think our chosen subject of the Washington Square Arch decisively developed the direction toward retrospective memory as a result. The execution of the project consisted of writing the code for Processing and initiating OSC within Isadora in order connect our code. Leap Motion was also included as a library in order to work properly within our Processing script. Using two envelope generators in Isadora, that were set up to trigger every time a key press was initiated, we manually had to press “s” and 3″ in order to change the scenes and to switch the audio tracks correspondingly.

Coding and programming aside, there was a bit of editing work involved too. All of the photos, videos, and sounds were found online through archival libraries and simple searches and then edited in Adobe Creative Cloud.

Washington Square Arch

Processing Code:
/*
Example: Using Syphon and OSC
With Isadora
Created by Andrew Lazarow
Nothing 2018
*/
//import syphon library
import codeanticode.syphon.*;
//Import the oscP5 Library
import oscP5.*;
import netP5.*;
import com.onformative.leap.LeapMotionP5;
LeapMotionP5 leap;
//initiate value to receive from OSC
//Set at 1 which we can say means draw.
int OSCValue=1;
//Declare an instance of OSC, called oscP5
OscP5 oscP5;
//Declare a net address
NetAddress myRemoteLocation;
//Setting up or declaring your 'canvas' - that piece of paper
PGraphics canvas;
//This boolean restores the black background
boolean addBackground=false;
//Declare our Syphon Server
SyphonServer server;
void settings () {
size (360, 480, P3D);
//PJOGL profile = 1;
//This line is needed for older versions of Processing.
}
void setup () {
//Create our canvas to draw on
canvas = createGraphics(width, height, P3D);
//we want to create our syphon outpout
//Name it MySyphonOutputBlueberries
server = new SyphonServer(this, "MySyphonOutputBlueberries");
/*
Whenever you draw on your canvas you need
to put "canvas." before any drawing call.
So let's set a black background on our canvas.
*/
canvas.beginDraw();
canvas.background(0);
canvas.endDraw();
//Initiate our OSC
oscP5 = new OscP5 (this, 5001);
leap = new LeapMotionP5(this);
myRemoteLocation = new NetAddress("127.0.0.1", 1234);
}
void draw () {
PVector fingerPos = leap.getTip(leap.getFinger(1));
canvas.beginDraw();
//If Add Background is True. Then restore background
//And leave it black.
if (addBackground==true) {
canvas.fill(0, 10);
canvas.rect(0, 0, width, height);
}
// If addBackground is false, then draw the white ellipse
else {
//I set the fill's alpha to 80.
//A bit of a feather effect.
canvas.fill(255, 80);
canvas.noStroke();
//draw a circle following your mouse
//canvas.ellipse(mouseX, mouseY, 50, 50);
canvas.ellipse(fingerPos.x, fingerPos.y, 100, 100);
println ("finger position x = " + fingerPos.x);
}
canvas.endDraw();
//show our canvas in our processing window
image(canvas, 0, 0);
//send our canvas to syphon
server.sendImage(canvas);
}
//Your OSC Receiving event:
void oscEvent(OscMessage theOscMessage) {
// get the first value as an integer
OSCValue = theOscMessage.get(0).intValue();
// print out the message
print("OSC Message Received: ");
print(theOscMessage.addrPattern() + " " +
"is sending: ");
println(OSCValue);
//If the OSC Value you get is '1' then let drawing happen
if (OSCValue==1) {
addBackground=false;
}
//If the value is anything else restore the black background
else {
addBackground=true;
}
}
void keyPressed() {
OscMessage myMessage = new OscMessage("/From_Processing");
//hitting 'b' restores our background.
//and acts as a toggle to restart drawing
if (key=='b') {
addBackground=!addBackground;
}
if (key=='s') {
myMessage.add(1);
oscP5.send(myMessage, myRemoteLocation);
}
if (key=='r') {
myMessage.add(0);
oscP5.send(myMessage, myRemoteLocation);
}
if (key=='3') {
myMessage.add(3);
oscP5.send(myMessage, myRemoteLocation);
}
}

Isadora Screenshots:

Screen Shot 2018-05-13 at 15.09.13

Screen Shot 2018-05-13 at 15.09.24

Sources /  Inspiration:

https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/search/index?utf8=%E2%9C%93&keywords=washington+square+arch#

Downtown Doodler: Hidden History of Washington Square Park in NYC

https://www.wnyc.org/story/sounds-washington-square-park-1962/

http://vectorsdev.usc.edu/NYCsound/777b.html

 

 

 

Edison Lamp Station

IMG_0981

My initial idea for a lamp included a light switch, a rubber mat to rest your phone on, a metal post for sunglasses, and a pocketed area for change.

Once I started drafting this idea in Vectorworks, and became aware of the size limitations of the 4-Axis, I realized I needed to rework my idea. I knew I wanted something functional for my bedside table, and I wanted to incorporate my skill builder into my final. (For the skill builder I made a small charging dock for an iPhone.)

Vectorworks prototypes:

Screen Shot 2018-04-27 at 11.26.02

 

Screen Shot 2018-04-27 at 11.12.24

Screen Shot 2018-04-27 at 11.06.23

Screen Shot 2018-04-27 at 11.04.09

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Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 17.02.49

2018-04-27 17.40.02

Once the cherry wood arrived in the mail it became easier to see the dimensions of everything I wanted to mill.

2018-04-29 10.12.42

Because I wanted to maximize the amount of wood I could use I needed to add tabs in Vectorworks to allow the machine to take off the minimal amount on the front and back. This also prompted me to create a third roughing and finishing tool path to ensure the front and back would be milled.

2018-04-29 11.51.52

Unfortunately, the drill bit was not as long as I needed it to be and at one point the callet, collet, caullet however you spell that, ran into the chuck. Oops!

2018-04-29 13.32.00

After restarting the machine due to that error, I was pleased to find I could restart the job without losing all my axies! I edited the tool paths to not mill on either side of the piece.

2018-04-29 14.03.23

Thankfully, the bit was just long enough to be able to mill down to the center on each side.

2018-04-29 15.37.05

Once the 4-Axis started milling the back I saw that the bit wasn’t in fact long enough make the hole for the charger.

2018-04-29 15.42.04

I was a little baffled as to why the machine left such rough lines on the front near the back, but I thought the final tool path would correct that.

2018-04-29 16.12.39

It didn’t unfortunately.

2018-04-29 16.17.44

It left some pretty nasty grooves on the top.

2018-04-29 16.29.12

I thought that maybe if I ran the last finishing step one more time it would get rid of the grooves on the surface.

2018-04-29 16.29.23

So I deleted all the other paths and highlighted the top of the surface where I wanted the machine to mill.

2018-04-29 17.04.07

After milling air for half an hour it finally started to smooth out where I wanted it to.

2018-04-29 17.43.44

But to my dismay, it didn’t smooth it all that much.

2018-04-29 17.43.48

After taking it off the 4-Axis and cutting off the extra wood on the sides using the bandsaw, I was left with some sanding to do. But first I wanted to drill a hole where the bit didn’t go through.

2018-04-29 17.54.12

Hastily, and after 7 hours milling, I slightly damaged the wood around the hole which was frustrating.

2018-04-29 18.03.22

I tried the drill press but it didn’t do any good, so I started filing the area down to make the hole big enough to fit a charger cable.

2018-04-30 16.36.32

Then I got to sanding the sides using a miter guide which made it easy to create an even surface area.

2018-04-30 16.38.16

The finished result looked great!

2018-05-01 14.33.03

Then it was time to discuss how to fit the lamp parts into everything before I lathed the remaining cherry wood bits.

2018-05-01 14.36.00

Ben suggested making a small lamp post and affixing it on the lathe with the chuck and then using the drill to create a hole large enough to fit the guided nipple post — is that what it’s called?

2018-05-02 09.47.40

The cherry wood pieces.

2018-05-02 10.08.58

The failed drill press attempt.

2018-05-02 10.25.06

The cherry wood prepared for lathing.

2018-05-02 10.36.17

2018-05-02 10.43.20

2018-05-02 10.52.59

I needed to make a .7 diameter, 1/4″ deep part at the bottom of my lamp post in order to securely glue it into the 4-axis part.

2018-05-02 11.17.45

Once I had the correct size for that part I started shaping the rounded wood.

2018-05-02 11.25.01

Using three grits of sandpaper, I sanded it until it was really smooth.

2018-05-02 11.28.13

And used the drill to easily make a centered hole through the middle.

2018-05-02 11.36.44

2018-05-02 11.40.40

After band-sawing off the ends, it was ready to be glued!

2018-05-02 11.55.34

Tightly clamped.

2018-05-02 12.00.19

Now it’s time to wait 8 hours.

2018-05-02 15.31.35

Since I had all this time on my hands to wait, I wanted to utilize one more machine, the Othermill.

2018-05-02 15.50.16

Out of aluminum, I wanted to make a lightning bolt.

2018-05-02 15.53.40

It took me a while to remember that the illustrator file had to be filled in in order to show up in Bantam. While the Othermill was doing it’s job I realized a crucial mistake.

2018-05-02 16.28.13

My charger cable wouldn’t fit!

2018-05-02 16.28.18

So I stared at it for a long time thinking of what I could do to remedy the situation.

2018-05-02 16.47.52

Every now and then glancing over and stopping the milling process to vacuum up the pieces!

2018-05-02 17.06.31

Thankfully Ben had a solution for me. And we carefully drilled a round hole in the bottom so I could thread the cable through.

2018-05-02 17.09.08

The lightning bolt came out nicely, and just required a little scraping off the ends to make it smooth.

2018-05-02 17.23.17

Ben was also kind enough to teach me how to properly wire the lamp so I wouldn’t die turning it on.

Screen Shot 2018-05-02 at 17.35.28

Although the two marked areas in red would be rounded, I think the bolt came out nicely.

Screen Shot 2018-05-02 at 12.46.27

The original Illustrator file without it being properly filled in.

Screen Shot 2018-04-29 at 10.00.30

Screen Shot 2018-04-29 at 09.34.34

Screen Shot 2018-04-28 at 15.38.30

Screen Shot 2018-04-28 at 15.36.52

Screen Shot 2018-04-28 at 15.26.09

I realized something wonky that took me a while to sort out when subtracting pieces from the main block in Vectorworks. I needed to use the arrows to have the part I wanted subtracted to be highlighted in yellow and the rest to be highlighted in red or else everything around it would be subtracted.

Screen Shot 2018-04-28 at 15.26.03

What it shouldn’t look like, but what it defaulted to.

Screen Shot 2018-04-28 at 15.05.10

The error I got when improperly trying to subtract the whole shape from the tiny part.

Screen Shot 2018-04-28 at 15.02.13

2018-05-03 00.03.50

After waxing on the lathe and by hand in the pocketed areas.

2018-05-03 00.03.53

2018-05-03 00.20.08

2018-05-03 11.10.25

Felt on the bottom.

2018-05-03 11.05.29

And it’s done!

A Bookshelf Update

2018-04-05 15.53.55

Sliding the shelves I milled into the bookshelf I made me realize a crucial mistake, and another mild one.

2018-04-05 16.04.16

First, the shelves were difficult to hammer in with a mallet (not the one I used for the lathe assignment because hardwood on hardwood wouldn’t be good) because the left side of the shelves was assembled upside down, and the distance between the first shelf and second aren’t the identical so it made things crooked. I also did not consider hinges before I CNC’d the whole thing. One visit to Home Depot’s hinge section made me realize that pretty fast. Then there’s the double track mark you can see when looking its back. I wanted to face the back piece the other way so that you would never potentially see this mistake unless you were looking at it from behind. Hasty gluing should be avoided.

2018-04-05 16.04.11

I did not leave myself enough room to install any interior hinges of any kind unfortunately so I’d like to take this a step further and cut off the pocketed area around the body’s front frame so things will look more polished and intentional.

 

4 Axis Maple iPhone Dock

A first go on the 4 axis proved to be a very long one where most of the work is done on the design. Unlike the lathe or even parts of using the big CNC, this machine really does everything pretty much on it’s own with little vacuuming required once start is pressed. None-the-less it’s pretty satisfying to hold a 3D figure of something you made in Vectorworks out of a solid block of hard wood.

Screen Shot 2018-04-19 at 12.50.31

Wireframe view of model.

Screen Shot 2018-04-19 at 14.43.03

Isometric view of back.

Screen Shot 2018-04-19 at 12.41.07

Wireframe isometric view. (Showing a future mistake that will be made.)

 

Screen Shot 2018-04-19 at 12.05.11

Top view.

And so,

4 axis

taking a block of maple left over from the turning exercise,

4 axis

I measured all the sides with a center finder

4 axis

and generally marked where the wood would be cut.

4 axis

Drilled a hole with a center hole bit for the lathe end of the 4 axis.

4 axis

Placing the wood in the shuck (shank?) (chuck?)

4 axis

and tightened the lathe end.

4 axis

The 3D model in SRP Player.

4 axis

Added tabs to the model after finalizing the Vectorworks file.

4 axis

The process beginning – 2.4 hours.

4 axis

The Axis.

4 axis

Half an hour or so into the process.

4 axis

4 axis

4 axis

An axis turned once to the right.

4 axis

Roughing process.

4 axis

Finishing process.

4 axis

Finished process.

4 axis

Taken off the machine there is clearly no hole going through the wood to allow for a charging cable.

4 axis

Left over pieces and cut and un-sanded, un drilled through result.

4 axis

Sanded down back view.

4 axis

Sanded side view. The cut of the saw made a great design in the wood.

4 axis

Since I didn’t have a hole I made my own. But realized using such a thin bit wasn’t a great idea on the drill press. It was bending but didn’t break so I switched to a bigger one and that things a little messy.

4 axis

The unfortunate hole on the bottom.

4 axis

Back view.

I really appreciate what a rounded bit can do to a piece of wood’s surface. It makes for a smooth effect — at least that’s what I got out of this maple.

Next time I need to remember to make my shapes overlap a bit in my Vectorworks files. I also need to utilize the option of changing the bit mid process so I can achieve not only a beautiful surface and rounded corners, but sharp edges and cut through pieces. Although I made a bit of a sloppy mess of the hole with the wobbly drill press after it all, I certainly learned what I needed to know going into the final now.
………..

4 axis

….And while I was at it I brought out my lathe turned honey dipper to cut and sand the ends off while I refined the ends of the dock.

Finals Brainstorm

IMG_0983

Using a block of wood, I’d like to make an USB Charging Edison Lamp with a Catch-All.

Below are some examples of what some of the components would look like:

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 14.04.28

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 13.20.07

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 13.19.39

Itemized materials list:

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 12.43.45
Block of Wood
(Cherry seems like a nice choice)

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 13.41.32
Lightbulb Socket

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 14.29.03Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 14.28.56
Edison Bulbs (long and regular) (already purchased)

The difficult part is finding a usb charging port that has a plug for the light socket that is spaced enough so that I can only show the two usb ports (like the second sketch I drew).

I could possibly use something like this:

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 14.19.58

Or this:

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 14.52.48

Or I could use a hub but that would probably require a lot of wiring space inside of the wood.

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 15.02.55

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 15.23.46
Dimmer Switch (I would make a knob on the small CNC for it)

Depending on how I go about wiring things, and whether or not I’ll have a dimmer there are a few options for power cords:

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 15.45.11
Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 15.47.44

I could also just have the dimmer directly on the socket, but then I’m not sure how to wire up the usb cable.

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 15.45.35

I could potentially use a simple extension cord if I wanted to use a USB hub mounted on the inside of the box…which makes me now think that I shouldn’t be using a solid piece of wood to make this out of!

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 15.52.44

Wooden Mallet

I used an oak dowel and a maple rectangle of wood to make a mallet on the lathe.
Mallet
After finding the center of both pieces, I loaded the block to shape into a cylinder first.
Mallet
Greatly underestimating the time it would take to bring a rectangle to something manageable.
Mallet
My first half an hour I was shocked to have only made a little progress.
Mallet
This was the first time I had ever tried turning something that wasn’t already rounded, and it definitely made me reconsider my time management.
Mallet
Slowly but surely, things began to take shape.
Mallet
After two hours it looked like this:
Mallet
Which then turned into a slightly rough version of what I wanted the head to look like.
Mallet
After sanding down with a number of different grits, I remembered wanting to make two grooves in the ends of the head.
Mallet
I took an even finer sandpaper to the grain to get into the grooves I just made.
Mallet
After taking it off the lathe, it was time to make a 1″ hole for the handle. For the first time I learned how to use the drill press, and realized that it’s a bit lopsided unfortunately.
Mallet
Making the two 90 degree holes on either side of the 1″ hole I had just made didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to.
Mallet
The hole for the handle wasn’t deep enough, and I had made one of the 90 degree angle holes a little less than 90 degrees on one side so I had to go back and make the handle hole larger to supplement the mistake.
Mallet
Although the holes were not positioned precisely, I managed to get deepen the handle hole which helped make up for the misaligned hole on the right.
Mallet
I measured the width of the hole for the handle and carefully started to turn the oak into a handle with the proper 1″ diameter at the end.
Mallet
After gluing the two parts together it looked pretty good — although the mallet head was a little off center due to the misalignment of the drill press and having to re-drill the hole and a second time.
Mallet
Once the glue had dried for about half an hour I applied a shiny coat of tung oil.
Mallet
In the morning, I realized the tung oil didn’t take very well and decided to wax the whole thing instead on the lathe.

The Wood Lathe

2018-04-03 16.16.30

What an amazing tool. The lathe was pure fun. My hands were shaking once I finished for some time after turning two dowels. There was certainly a difference between the pine and oak wood. Every time I thought I had something smooth to work with on the pine it ended up looking really jagged along the grain. And it didn’t turn into butter like the oak did once you smoothed and rounded off everything.

2018-04-03 16.19.06

2018-04-03 16.19.44

I started under the assumption that I wanted to technically follow the turning chisel layout and found the center of the wood using the center finder.

2018-04-03 16.31.01

Then, I hammered the drive center into the wood, and attached the live center, aligning everything by tightening the bolt on the left end of the lathe.

2018-04-03 16.48.07

Once everything seemed sturdy I attached the tool rest approximately to the middle of the material and in pretty close proximity.

2018-04-03 16.50.52

Because I assumed following the diagram would be the best way to start, I marked the parts I needed to lathe accordingly…

2018-04-03 17.19.26

only to quickly notice I wanted to experiment with shapes and see what happened. I liked the outcome. It sort of reminds me of a huge honey dipper.

2018-04-03 17.24.53

After using two grades of sandpaper, 400 and 220, I had a pretty smooth piece of lathed wood — and I was ready to see what oak felt like.

2018-04-03 17.30.31

Muscle memory helped me quickly place a new piece of dowel.

2018-04-03 18.03.05

And after about 25 minutes, I had something interesting I liked to use for a handle.

2018-04-03 18.12.46

The two pieces, unfinished, but taken off the lathe and ready to be varnished.

Final Ideas

1. Building upon the idea of something coming from nothing, I’d like to illustrate concepts surrounding the illusion of free speech within the construct of how we digest information online and through other sources today in age. One idea would be to work with the ridiculous idea of “alternative facts” to see how people can literally create illusions of truth, basically something out of nothing.

2. Creating some sort of true mirror that builds upon the illusion of how we think we appear to others – which isn’t really what it seems when you look at a regular mirror. It would be interesting to create an interactive experience that would allow the viewer to see a side how other people perceive them. A different take on the true mirror possibly employing projection mapping.

3. Our memories can lead us to believe that something happened to us in a way in which it actually didn’t. These illusions that we believe based on our false memories can greatly influence the decisions we chose to make in the future. What if we subconsciously lie to ourselves in order to be able to make the decisions that seems more attractive as a way of bartering with ourselves. And who are we without our memories? Can we create different narratives of our lives based on these falsehoods, and what makes these false memories distinguishable from truths? I suppose what I’m getting at is the idea behind false conceptions of truth based in memories and whether that leads to an illusion of truth in our remembrances or just a known falsification we have swallowed so many times, we forget it was a fabrication.

MoMA response

Having grown up in NYC and lived here my whole life, this was not my first visit to MOMA. On our trip we reviewed many exhibits I’ve seen before but never with a guide so that was interesting. That being said, the ones that stand out are some classics that relate to the theme of illusions and nothingness.

Screen Shot 2018-03-31 at 19.45.44
CHICERO

I can’t help but love the absurdity in Cubism and how random objects are tied together through paint to reveal subtleties in relation. Above is Chirico’s The Song of Love, 1914. It is very symbolic of the way people were feeling during WWI. A sense of loss (one glove), the absurdity and uncertainty of the war (the glove is as big as the stone head), the dramatization of the effects of war (the perspective of the street in relation to the objects). And yet, in the background, there is a single little glimpse of a beautiful cloud amidst a gorgeous blue sky that tricks us into comfort and leads us into feeling more insecure as we take in the objects in the foreground. I can’t help but wonder about the title of the piece, The Song of Love. The phrase also tricks us into thinking what we are seeing is merely beautiful and not necessarily tragic. In one moment you can see the joy in the image, but in another you can feel the absurdity, the sadness, and the passion in that dismay. Things don’t make sense in this world Chicero has commented upon and it certainly marks a time during humanity that was uncertain and doomed. Nothingness was certain.

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MAGRITTE

Something feels familiar about this Magritte. Something similar to The Song Of Love.  The perspective of this piece seems almost unnecessary. This assumed couple, heads draped in tightly formed sheets, are kissing so passionately but it is as random as a head of a statue bound to a wall with a glove next to it (I haven’t even mentioned the green ball yet). I could almost see this picture as a New Year’s Eve photo a friend took of his long time, married friends. In someone’s colorful but dull apartment or house. There’s actually nothing spectacular going on if you take away the sheets. It leaves you imagining what’s underneath but the perspective of the room keeps you from obsessing over that. Whatever the viewer assumes about the individuals in this painting are an illusion created by the lack of information we receive about them because of the sheets. And the perspective that almost looks flat and feels a bit off, only makes for an absurd narrative.

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GRIGORIAN

This piece screams nothingness. It’s filthy, and makes me nauseous. It’s as though someone put out their huge cigarette in the middle of a canvas, and left it there for years. It looks like a disease and provokes memories of unease and foggy mistrust. I don’t especially like it and it’s not enjoyable to look at, but I can’t help but wonder how it’s made and what was on Girgorian’s mind when he made it. There’s so much texture it looks like ant’s piled stacks of ash into a city, a colony of clouds. There’s so much emptiness but so much happening all at once. Where you think you see nothing you actually see all these crevasses that looks like earth starved of water but boiling up underneath.  It almost feels like I’m in an airplane, looking straight down at a target, and I’ve just dropped a bomb, and this terrible fog is the aftermath.

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ERNST

A tragic life led to this painful painting. Max Ernst, a WWI veteran, traumatized from the war and the death of his sister, hallucinated intimidating objects in wood grain of his bed post while infected with the measles as a child. A nightingale, a spinning top, an opened wooden fence were among these strange illusions. The title, Two Children are Threatened by a Nightingale suggest Max and his sister, traumatized by a threatening bird, exist in an abstract space together after her death. The objects chosen are strange put together and the perspective. And the physicality introduced by way of the fence, spinning top, and shed bring you into the scene and distract you from questioning the absurdity of the situation. There is nothing that really adheres every object in this scenario. Nothing depends on the other in order to exist. Nothing relies on something else in order to achieve relevance in this portrayal. Yet, everything has an order to it, which could be of my own implementation.

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DALI

My favorite painting at MoMA, Persistance of Memory, was not there when I went but it’s very relevant. Melting clocks on a serene beach with ants eating away at a decaying time piece and a figure loosely resembling a man’s face lying dead on the ground with his tongue coming out of his nose and his eyelash, giant, carving into his cheek bone — it’s unsettling. There’s no location where this painting takes place. Other than a beach landscape with cliffs in the background, you can’t make out what planet you’re on. The water turns into a shelf which drives this point home. It’s some kind of acid fantasy where you’ve lost your ego and you seem to empathetic to exist in the world. Time doesn’t exist and you cease to enter the world of causality. Dali wants us to be confused, but he also wants to show us what it is to be in the human condition. He plays only with the illusions that life give to us — of time, of place, of security. But he shows it and displays it as a nightmare. Something nauseous that we don’t want to admit or talk about.