While in Washington, DC this past weekend with Trevor Schoonmaker (to whom, full disclosure, I am married), we stopped at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden to visit a friend who is a curator at the museum, Anne Ellegood. Anne’s exhibition, Currents: Recent Aquisitions, features works new to the collection that include some familiar faces – for example, they now have a beautiful Robin Rhode work, which is almost (but not quite) as beautiful as the Nasher Museum’s (though I am admittedly biased). There were a lot of wonderful things to see, including works by Ernesto Neto, Iona Rozeal Brown, Paul Pfeiffer and Ed Ruscha – all great acquisitions. Perusing the Hirshhorn’s website after arriving back in Durham, I noticed that they have podcasts of various talks available on their site, which I thought was pretty cool and something more museums should do. Click here to listen to a podcast of Anne talking about the Currents exhibition.
The exhibition that intrigued me most at the Hirshhorn, however, was a little video installation called Black Box: Semiconductor, organized by associate curator Kelly Gordon. As the museum website states, “Artists Ruth Jarman and Joseph Gerhardt, aka Semiconductor, have collaborated since 1999 on various forms of ‘digital noise and computer anarchy,’ including films, experimental DVDs, and multimedia performances. The London-based pair makes moving-image works that reveal our physical world in flux: cities in motion, shifting landscapes, and systems in chaos.”
The work on view was Magnetic Movie, made during the artists’ residency at NASA (how amazing is that – artists-in-residence at NASA!). The video seems to “document” and visualize the movement of magnetic fields via colorful depictions of waves of magnetic energy racing through space. Sounds scientific and potentially dry, I know, but it was visually stunning enough to keep me and several other visitors riveted for countless minutes. With the rise of Visual Studies as a course of research in art history, this video seemed a perfect illustration of when interdisciplinary investigations work – the art of science, or could it be the science of art?