The biggest problem is that the beginning of the experience was not very well thought out. After checking your coat (and presumably your wallet too), you have to get on two lines. The first, to sign a waiver to go on the slide, goes rather quickly. The second, to sign a waiver and receive a pair of goggles that makes one see everything upside-down, is long, and requires that you leave a credit card on hold, which, if you already checked your wallet, is an annoyance. On the top floor is the mirrored carousel and the entrance to the slide. The carousel moves very slowly, and seems more of a distraction for people while waiting on another line to go down the slide. Out of the concrete floor comes a metal cylinder, which sharply inclines and then disappears down to the third floor. As people go down their screams echo off the museum’s walls. The wait is worth it. You zoom down the slide where the walls become transparent, and the visitors on the third floor can see you rocket by. The second floor has a foam landing and walls of flashing lights, which are supposed to make you hallucinate. Also on this floor is a fish tank with benches for you to lie on and a space for your head so you feel as though you are in the tank with the fish. This was relaxing and beautiful, and felt so peaceful and a total opposite to the adrenaline rush of the slide and the flashing lights. Less successful was a series of rooms on the second floor: smelling a vial of “love potion”, using a vibrator on your arm to make your nose feel larger, pressing a button to get poked in the arm, and watching a video on an ipod. There were many kinks: the lines and the contrast between works that make one feel excited and those which do not add to the show, but this type of show is important to contemporary art, and should continue to be developed. Viewer-focused shows that are meant to give a unique experience should be nurtured, not dismissed.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Carsten Holler at the New Museum
Former entomologist Carsten Holler has turned his scientific experiments from bugs to humans at his show at the New Museum. The show is all about visitors' experiences and reactions, ranging from terrifying, childish delight, and unfortunately, boredom. This type of show, rarely seen in New York, definitely lived up to its title, and was successful in focusing entirely on the viewer and how they experience different environments and respond to different stimuli.