Basilico and Eliasson at SFMOMA

It has been an incredibly warm summer-like weekend here in San Francisco, and I took advantage to explore both my neighborhood and the surrounding areas on foot. Today those wanderings included another visit to the SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art).

The featured photography exhibit of Gabriele Basilico was incredibly in turn with my own recent experience in San Francisco, and my interest in highways and industrial landscapes as expressed here on CatSynth. Indeed, it was the perfect exhibition to complement this weekend – it was been incredibly warm and summer-like, and I have been exploring my neighborhood and the surrounding areas on foot. And the title image of the I-80 and US 101 split, shown to the right, is very similar to a photo from Wikipedia that I cut from my recent Super Tuesday article:

The exhibition includes several other photos of San Francisco highways as well as other familiar images from my SOMA neighborhood, and from the towns in Silicon Valley. From the museum’s statement:

This exhibition presents a series of nearly 50 black-and-white and color photographs taken by Basilico at the invitation of SFMOMA during a monthlong residency in the Bay Area last summer…This exhibition will be the first of an ongoing project focused on Silicon Valley, in which artists will document the area on film. Basilico?s objective style and affinity for observing marginalized urban settings in a classical mode promises a compelling counterpoint to future installments in the project.

This of course inspires me to do more of my own work along these lines. I could probably fill Worldess Wednesday for the rest of the year just with photos of the city.

The next exhibition takes us from the amazingly timely to something “out of time.” Indeed, the title of Olafur Eliasson’s “Take Your Time” exhorts us to suspend our sense of time and enter a world purely of color, light and geometry. The tunnel (on SFMOMA’s fifth-floor catwalk) sets the tone for the exhibit, with color planes, plays on light, and complex but analytical geometric figures.

Challenging the passive nature of traditional art-viewing, he engages the observer as an active participant, using tangible elements such as temperature, moisture, aroma, and light to generate physical sensations.

Eliasson’s pieces also include a room entirely of yellow lamps reminiscent of the sodium street lamps used in places like San Jose, a screen of rippling light that responds to viewers’ movements on the floorboards, and a walk-in geometric figure of mirrors. To really get the most out of these works, one has to “suspend time” and explore them in detail, even though they are devoid of what we usually think of as “detail” (and what I usually try to avoid in art and design). Of course, that can be challenging on a crowded Sunday afternoon. But not impossible, if you take your time.

This article is included in the February 13 Carnival of Cities.