[The preview for this review is here.]
Oof. I’ve gotten behind. Clearly I’ve been going out too much and not doing enough writing. Here are some thoughts on the MIT Museum’s new exhibit Luminous Windows: Holograms for the 21st Century, though, which was a little more than a week ago.
The new exhibit consists of six new works, that “[represent] artistic and technical advancements in the field of display holography”. The most successful of them are “Thera” by Ikuo Nakamura which combines holography and video of a woman in an interesting way, and “Insights” by Michael Bleyenberg which is abstract. The images are on display from Massachusetts Ave. throughout the winter, so it’s definitely worth checking out if you walk by it in the evening (e.g. if you’re on your way to or from the Miracle of Science which is just a few blocks away).
The accompanying opening was very low key, but fairly well attended. The museum provided free admission, snacks, a DJ, and activities for children which, although only tenuously connected to the theme of light, successfully drew families in to see the new exhibit. Better yet, though, was the chance to see the museum’s expanded facilities and permanent exhibits and, in my case, to reacquaint myself with some impressive collections that I hadn’t seen in years.
Two exhibits in particular, are worth highlighting. The first of these, (and special attention must be given to it, considering the occasion of the new exhibit opening), is the museum’s permanent holography exhibit, from which the two images in this post are taken. The exhibit has an impressive range, and although a lot is focused on the simple “cool” factor, there are several moments of surprising emotional resonance. The exhibit would have benefited tremendously from a more detailed look at how holograms are made, but, alas, instead we are forced to make do with only two very sketchy panels of information.
The second noteworthy exhibit was the collection of kinetic sculptures by Arthur Ganson. Having just seen the fantastic Calder exhibit at the Whitney in New York City it’s easy to see the roots of Ganson’s inspiration. Ganson combines Calder’s love of the mechanical with Calder’s whimsy, creating sculptures that are often motorized and perpetual, illustrating tiny little human truths or dramas or just fun entertainments with materials as varied as a wishbone, black oil, or little slips of paper.
Both exhibits are extremely audience-friendly, unlike the majority of the rest of the museum which in general just seems far too cluttered with text. The MIT Museum seems a bit awkward in its presentation overall, combining science, history, and art into one uncohesive whole. As a result the exhibits alternate between being either far too scientific and technical or virtually completely ignoring the scientific side (in the latter cases the exhibits reach about the level of the Museum of Science, which most of the time seems more full of toys than information). In any case the museum is worth a visit for the holography and Ganson exhibits alone. Visiting information can be found here.