You know that thing they say on the airlines, if the oxygen mask comes down be sure to affix it to your self before trying to help others. That is how I feel sometimes, I’m trying to breathe. I need to be able to breath before doing something else, before working on something. Tonight I got that fresh air from Max Richter’s music. Admiring his craft, it reminded me of my brush with another great artist recently.
Last weekend my wife and I were visiting the Auckland Art Gallery and just happened to walk in as a talk was finishing up on a new installation. Nathan Coley’s piece, “A Place Beyond Belief”. I sat there as the audience asked some questions, contemplating the light bulbs spelling out this enigmatic phrase. I couldn’t get out of my mind the theory I recalled by McLuhan about the electric light being pure information, unless it is used to spell something. I went and looked that up again.
“The electric light is pure information. It is a medium without a message, as it is, unless it is used to spell out some verbal ad or name”http://www.units.miamioh.edu/englishtech/eng49501/bellpd/neointro.html
I wasn’t suggesting that the art was not pure, or that the message was not pure. If anything I think Coley turned this idea on it’s head for me, and here is an example of purifying something in electric light.
I wasn’t really wanting to get a selfie, but I was holding my phone in my hand, and Nathan seemed amiable to the idea so I thought why not, it would be a good way to get close to him and try to tell him these thoughts. He even pulled me over to the side more so we could get the whole text in better. We took the selfie and I told him my thoughts about McLuhan, but other people crowded in and he did not seem interested in discussing the thought any further. I hope he didn’t think I was criticizing the piece, far from it, I was, and am very impressed by it. And proud of the shameless selfie I have to show for it. We drifted away and looked at other parts of the gallery but I felt like I had already gotten what I came for. Although I didn’t really get it, and now that I know more about the inspiration behind this work of art, I still have questions about what the message really is. But that is what good art does, it doesn’t answer your questions, it just causes more questions.