Josh in California - Part 4: Tar and Art Revisited

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

The Greyhound Station, 7:44 PM, Tuesday, October 23, 2001…

I’m back at the Greyhound station. A small oriental woman at the other place, where I tried to charge my PowerBook, got upset over my having plugged into one of her extension cords. I think she owned the place. “Not right! Not right!” she kept saying and pointing to where I’d attached my cord. “Not right!” Some of the little restaurants out in this part of town might not have the same sort of … understanding of laptops that student-oriented coffeehouses would. “Not right!” “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” was all I could respond while removing my cable. I finished my cup of coffee without incident.

While sitting here I figured I’d catch up on some of my public journal. I went out to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art yesterday afternoon and evening and got to see lots of neat art and took some notes for myself. The actual reason for my being out there was to see the La Brea Tar Pits, but the La Brea Tar Pits actually surround LACMA, so I got to see both. Good deal.

(On the bus, now.)

The La Brea Tar Pits, by the way, are black puddles that bubble goo and stink of methane and oil. According to the La Brea Tar Pits Museum, their stickiness trapped enough creatures to make the location the site of more fossil finds than any other location on Earth. The museum resembles the Texas Memorial Museum with large, reconstructed dinosaur and prehistorical mammal skeletons all over and little stations where you can feel how much force it would require to pull a limb out from the tar. I saw mammoth skeletons and mastodon skeletons and sloths and sabre-toothed tiger skeletons and huge collection of wolverine skulls as well as bird skeletons of all sorts. I found myself surprised at how closely everyone’s skeletons resembles each other. I sound really naive writing about this stuff because I am. Bio and I didn’t mix very well during my formal education.

Buumpy ridinign on thi sbus. I’m getting nauseous reading my computer screen… I will continue.

I’m enjoying the freedom of travelling alone but I do sort of wish I had someone to debrief myself to, someone to dump my ideas on. Not having that person, I’ve decided to just Blog it all and see what happens with that, which will give me a much more permanent record of the whole journey, but I’d probably be, in general, more comfortable out here with a friend. Difficult finding a friend to go to California with for three weeks in the middle of the school semester, though. So…

LACMA, as Claire (Brenna’s roommate) calls it and thus I call it, has all sorts fo shit inside of it. It’s huge and full of art from around the world and quite a nice collection of modern American works from the likes of Andy Warhol and Roy Liechenstein. Warhol and Liechenstein are not news to me. I enjoy their work but I kind of knew what I would find in their rooms (they have their own rooms). Liechenstein’s Mondrian send-up called “Non Objective I” surprised me, though. It’s classic Mondrian — black lines and primary colored rectangles — but done in Liechenstein half-tone dots rather than solid colors. Not something I’d hang on my wall or that I would even care to look at very often, but I enjoyed seeing it once.


The piece that really caught my eye was a little digital art piece by a guy named John F. Simons and if I had an internet connection right now I’d go find some more information on him because his sole piece in the museum blew everything else away (for me). “Complex City,” he titled it, and the plaquard nearby said it attempted to recreate the essense and motion of a city in the same way Mondrian’s “Broadway Boogie-Woogie” did. “Broadway Boogie-Woogie,” for those of you playing along at home, Mondrian painted later in his life, after all of the “Composition with Red and Yellow” pieces with the black lines and color fields (like Liechenstein copied — see above). It’s similar to those, but much more complex and “alive” with clear back-and-forth motion sort of like you might imagine traffic in Manhattan. I think I read that he found influence in jazz music, a source of influence for many painters and writers during the middle decades of the last century, and tried to jazz-up what he did in the “Composition” series. Anyway, John F. Simon, according to the plaquard, attempted to do something similar with recreating the bustle of the city within the frame of art. His piece used a Mac G3 displaying onto a fine-resolution LCD screen about fourteen-inches diagonal. On the bottom were “streets” — simple gray bars that intersected (with one going through diagonally sucha s Broadway cuts through midtown Manhattan — populated with little red, blue, yellow, and black squares representing, I imagine, cars. There were not street lights, but you could see the cars pile up when the invisible street light turned red and then reaccelerate when they got green. Some cars drove faster than others, but were programmed to navigate around each other rather than just go through each other. All the lights changed at he same time so you ended up with a cool effect of all the traffic flowing side-to-side or up-down at once. Not realistic traffic-management, for sure, but fun to watch. On the right some digital building had elevators that movedup and down and delivered colors to different levels of the virtual building. Below on the side was a sort of clock that I could figure out. Anyway, to sum up, think Sim City and Sim Tower but as a minimalist digital art piece that you don’t interact with. I liked it, but then, I’m totally insane.

—- END ART BABBLE (for now) —-

I’ve got more to say about LACMA, so beware. Maybe I’ll write it tomorrow.