Months ago, I wrote (but did not post) this reaction to the Aurora project that graced Dallas with one public, luminous night. Walking the arts district was the first time in awhile that I felt I was living in a city comparable to the vibrant never-sleeps that enchant our coasts. Cities that have something to say. If you ask why the wait, I’ll simply cite another mystery.
Light and sound are all about. Some by design, some by the spectators, perhaps an intention itself, as I am walking the streets of the Dallas Aurora Project, contributing foot-step chatter of my own. We are all the animation of the evening. A temporary installation of interactivity.
There is a duality to contend with: light and sound are as much a distraction as a point of focus. We are constantly presented with choice. Where to look and when. It’s all part of the fun.
Here is a place where the skeptic struggles in quiet internal moments. You can feel it in the crowd, among the genuine social positivity – the occasional awkward moments where people accidentally engage with this piece or that. It is unexpected. Almost embarrassing. Most just pose for a photo and move on. Some take the road of mockery. Some choose to over-explain. Some genuinely feel nothing.
Perhaps I feel too much. Or perhaps I am starved for this sort of thing, and the craving drives my comprehension.
“The less there was to see, the harder he looked, the more he saw.”
This comes from Don DeLillo’s most recent work, Point Omega, a sparse novella riddled with the dangers of over thinking. It is a scary read for an analytical mind. Characters fall into new definitions of nothing on every page, and nirvana in all forms – even minimalism – seems out of reach for sentient beings.
I keep this in mind as I engage the exhibits around me. I admire the spectacle despite the fact that I am the spectacle.
My overactive imagination often contributes this light and sound, this purpose, even on normal evenings. For me, this is seeing what is always there, just with more people present to witness. Especially the sounds: the long-drawn-low-frequency-harmonics of the darker more profound corners of music that live near the bass line. Always there.
One of my favorite installations is actually two:
CLOUD PAVILION by John Barker accompanied by the ominous music of Water Falls, and TURBULENCE by James Clar – a single light bulb in chaotic pendulum swing.
After my fellow wanderers depart, I return to this space alone. Stand experiencing. I see a sliver of highway traffic to the left of the installation, speeding away from the night, reminding me of real forgotten things. But here – here is a realm of much needed meditation as the city rests still behind, and I find myself wide awake.
After awhile, more of Point Omega comes to mind, in particular a passage that centers on a man in a museum regarding an installation over a long period of time.
“He began to understand, after all this time, that he’d been standing here waiting for something. What was it? It was something outside conscious grasp until now. He’d been waiting for a woman to arrive, a woman alone, someone he might talk to, here at the wall, in whispers, sparingly of course, or later, somewhere, trading ideas and impressions, what they’d seen and how they felt about it. Wasn’t that it? He was thinking a woman would enter who’d stand and watch for a time, finding her way to a place at the wall, an hour, half an hour, that was enough, half an hour, that was sufficient, a serious person, soft-spoken, wearing a pale summer dress.
The light bulb and the atmosphere reverse hypnotize me as I search for like minds in the ether.
And for the time, find only music.