Friday, November 16, 2007


I met up with some friends, and some friends of friends, this evening and brought them to P.S. 1, which... if you ever want to impress your crew with both how much obscure, over-the-river New York City you know and how coolly Zen you are, P.S. 1 is the singular place to bring them. It's a branch of my still-loathed Museum of Modern Art and full of dippy, over-commentaried installations, but redeemed by James Turrell's awesome sanctuary Meeting, guaranteed to leave jaws agape.

It's both easy and hard to describe: a white room, wooden bench around the perimeter, and a hole in the ceiling. A skylight, literally. Turrell pulls off some sort of optical illusion where the ceiling's maybe twelve feet over your head, your eyes scan across to the hole and the sky is right there. At my first Meeting, there was a debate among my friends, "Is that just twilight projected onto a screen? It has to be. I bet they're pumping cold air and wind in the room... no, look, there's a plane. How did he do that if it's a screen?"

Once your mind resolves the issue, the Turrell room is a great, chilly little place for meditation. No one will stop you if you need to sit in lotus position for hours or perform corpse pose on the bench, and there really aren't too many places where a bunch of grown adults, strangers to each other, will lie on a dirty carpet together and it won't be awkward. Plus we got lucky with a perfect, deep pink evening where the illusion crept closer and closer as dusk turned to night.

Credit for the photos goes to Harrigan, who's a photo ace. Seriously, she was setting the aperture and exposure manually. I can barely take pictures that aren't motion-blurry...

Same scene. My picture:

Harrigan's picture:

Not that my picture doesn't have its charm, but I was going for something a teensy bit different.

Also on display, this guy. Min Tanaka, a conceptual artist putting on a special live exhibition. So watch the video, and see if you can guess what his conceptual art gimmick is. (Note: I had the camera sideways, filming, figuring it would correct itself. Oops. Doesn't matter, since he's not any less inexplicable rotated ninety degrees.)

If you guessed that he "dances the space around him," because you are unaware that "dance" is an intransitive verb, then you are correct. Also, he doesn't like being videoed, since some security ninny told me to put the camera away, even though there were at least five professional photographers in the room, blocking everyone's view, and taking snapshots. So I didn't get on camera the part of his dance where he randomly bangs his head against the wall, presumably because the space told him to do so.