After touring the Houston Cistern, we took another tour of it with an art installation completely encompassing it. Rain: Madgalena Fernández at the Houston Cistern is a video installation with the video projected from all sides onto and into the cistern while sound plays. I don’t think I can fully explain it other than to say it is really, really cool, and you can read more about it here. The sound sounds likes rain, but it is completely human made sound. The video starts off looking a little like rain falling then becomes something that looks like how Hollywood loves to portray cyberspace. It is incredibly neat to watch, and I love the way takes over the space.
In what is now an annual tradition, the National Building Museum creates a fun, exhibit or installation in which children and adults can play. Last year it was The Beach, and the year before it was The Big Maze. This year, it is Icebergs. The museum’s great hall is filled with structures resembling icebergs, and blue mesh surrounds them to denote the water. The “water line” is about two stories high with the tops of many icebergs popping above it, like real icebergs. The exhibit is complete with an underwater bridge between two icebergs, which leads to two slides. White bean bags are scattered about, so you can sit down and relax.
There is an exhibit at the Renwick Gallery called Wonder that will be leaving soon. It is amazing. One of the pieces in the exhibit is Gabriel Dawe’s Plexus A1. It took my breath away. I just stood there staring at it wondering how to photograph it properly. Then I photographed it from every angle and every zoom and every focal point I could think of, and I still could not capture the beauty and, well, wonder of it. Below are a few photographs of mine just trying to capture it. I want to go back and stare it some more. It is just thread, yet it is so much more.
While I was photographing the ruins of the Elkins Roundhouse, I saw some rust on the big turnstile. Actually, I saw a lot of rust on everything, but the point is, I really started looking at the rust. It was beautiful. It was all variations of colors and textures. It was peeling paint cracking and folding and turning up to reveal other layers of paint, all being pushed away from the metal by the rust forming. It was rust forming on rust. It was Mother Nature laughing at the work of humans. It is one of those things where the average person would not give something the shortest glance, but I want to stop them and show them the beauty they are missing. Maybe you just have to be really detail oriented like me to see it. Maybe you have to be an engineer or scientist like me to appreciate rust. Or maybe you just have to be a crazy photographer like me to spend 15 minutes photographing rust.
Dupont Underground is an abandoned trolley station underneath Dupont Circle that recently had a design competition to reuse a whole lot of plastic balls from National Building Museum’s The Beach. The winning entry was Raise/Raze, which formed the balls into 3 x 3 cubes that were used to build columns and walls in a portion of Dupont Underground. The structures built by the balls were rather interesting, especially when considering they were built with spheres. I also rather liked the way the cube blocks mimicked the tiles on the outer wall of the underground.
There is an art exhibit at the National Academy of Sciences called Sentient Chamber that is unlike anything I have seen before. It reminds me of a gigantic hairy caterpillar. It kind of looks like technology and science based items hung as a chandelier among other items I associate more wind chimes. It is interactive because as people get close and walk through it, lights turn on, sounds are made, and certain items move or vibrate. I really can’t describe, but it is beautiful and interesting to look at. It makes really cool shadows on the ceiling, walls, and on itself. It also makes some really cool reflections in itself.
I went to a reception for a new(-ish) exhibit with the Culture Programs of the National Academy of Sciences. The exhibit are paintings by Jonathan Feldschuh that are inspired by the Large Hadron Collider. The paintings are acrylic on mylar, and they are quite gorgeous. While I’m sure my art-knowledgable friends will correct my terminology, to me, they look like impressionists paintings of very high-tech subjects. I love impressionism art, and of course, I love technology, so I really like these paintings. My friends R, J, and I were discussing this one painting that R and I both rather liked. I said I really like the way the perspective of the pipe or wires going off into the tunnel. I questioned whether it was a pipe or a bundle of wires. This is the conversation that ensued.
R: It’s not a pipe. It’s where the collisions occur.
Me: It’s a pipe then.
R: No, it’s not solid.
Me: Pipes aren’t solid.
R: Yes, but it’s different.
J: It’s more high tech.
Me: It’s a pipe.
R: There aren’t fluids flowing through it. It’s particles flowing through it and colliding.
Me: It’s still a pipe.
R: It’s not a pipe because the particles are in a vacuum.
Me: It’s a pipe. Those things at banks where the little container at the drive through is pushed through a pipe is pushed through a vacuum. It’s still a pipe.
R: [sighs] Ok, it’s a pipe.
It should be noted that according the CERN website, “The beams travel in opposite directions in separate beam pipes – two tubes kept at ultrahigh vacuum.” Thus, it’s a pipe. However, in R’s defense, I have a B.S. in chemical engineering, so everything is pretty much a pipe or a tank to me. Also, everything can be fixed with a hammer, but that is another story.
The Istanbul Archaeological Museum was undergoing renovation when we went, so I don’t think we saw all the different exhibits they have. It also was that part of the time I was there I felt like I was walking through a rat maze. In any event, it has some really nice exhibits. However my favorite part was actually the Tiled Kiosk next door. I find the name amusing because when I hear kiosk, I think of a little booth in the mall with someone trying to sell cell phone accessories or some pillow that is going to solve all my health problems. The Tiled Kiosk is pretty though and has walls covered with tile, stained glass windows, and other art.
Hagia Sofia is an amazing piece of architecture and art. It was a church that became a mosque that became a museum. The interior is covered with beautiful stone panels, carved stone, mosaics, and painted plaster. Much of the mosaics were covered with plaster and then painted centuries ago, but the revealed mosaics are intricate and beautiful. The painted plaster is quite beautiful also. The stone panels demonstrate the beauty of natural stone. Besides the actual decorative interior, the actual architectural form of the building with all its domes and arches is gorgeous and also amazing from an engineering standpoint. Considering the age of the building and the number of earthquakes the area has suffered, it is amazing that the building is still standing. Some earthquake damage can be seen such as a leaning column in a photograph below.
While in Istanbul, our tour group visited the famous Blue Mosque. It is gorgeous. The exterior is beautiful, but the interior is even more beautiful. The interior is arches upon arches upon domes. Most of the interior is covered with gorgeous mainly blue and white tile, which gives the mosque it’s name.