5,000 Moving Parts

On view through November 2014

Taking Little Steps


A principle I apply often: big projects get made one little step at a time. This exhibition is no exception. Here are a few of those steps - halting, tentative, and sometimes backwards - that I took in the last few days:

A studio visit and a few bugs

I went to visit a couple of artists we've invited to join the 5000 Moving Parts exhibition, and discussed with them several possibilities for works to be included.  The work I had been thinking about would have required the Museum's staff to maintain a moss garden for the duration of the exhibition.  OK, that's doable.  But I was surprised when the artists told me that in previous installations, "things hatched" from the moss garden. In an institution such as the MIT Museum, which houses large collections of works on paper, things that hatch are rather seriously frowned upon, to say the least. The artists are proposing a different work, and no insects.

Marcel Duchamp's rotoreliefs

Duchamp’s rotoreliefs are often cited as early examples of kinetic art and they’ve become popular online. But the mechanical simplicity of these works can't really be thoroughly reproduced digitally - they were made to be "played" on a turntable. Just imagine looking down at them spinning on a creaky machine.  That would be another experience entirely, and one much more closely related to the work we're looking at for 5000 Moving Parts: work that requires doing something other than sitting still.

You got to move

I said in my previous post that I'd be thinking my way toward trying to distinguish what makes kinetic art so engaging. One thought: Is it that, in addition to engaging the visual sense, it's also kinesthetic? The work moves, and you have to move too.

I spent years making dances and toward the end of my time doing that, I did really simple things just to make the audience turn their heads or look up during a performance. Last year, I met with a former colleague-in-choreography who later became an architect. We agreed: once a choreographer, always a choreographer. I can’t develop an exhibition about kinetic art without thinking about how people will move through it, or bend over the sculptures to get a closer look, and she can’t design a building without thinking about the experiences of the people in the building as they move through it.

Many more small steps to come.

     Site Design: Paul Montie