Friday, September 26, 2008

When object becomes medium

Visited the Anish Kapoor show at the ICA Boston on its last day. Very impressed by the series of interesting and mysterious objects. When I saw the "S-Curve," I can't help wondering: is this Richard Serra? Gut feeling told me no, but I didn't quite figure out why... When recently hearing some comments on Kapoor's "funny shapes" I realize, that's it! Serra is about shapes, but Kapoor is not! In the case of the "S-Curve," the sculpture is not shaped to form a beauty. It's to give you two reflections at once. It's to give you dynamic distortions when you pass by it... In Kapoor's world, object becomes medium; it becomes an instrument engineered to achieve the magic of optical illusions.

Same thing can apply to the Cloud Gate. Does it really matter what it looks like? A cloud or a butt? I would say the key aspect of that piece is rather to enjoy the reflection of the historic buildings on the other side of the street, and to look for yourself from the illusionary reflections when you stand underneath it.

A good example to prove Kapoor's sculptures are not about the object is the "Hexagon Mirror." The visual effects are fantastic, especially when you walk towards it, passing the focal point of the parabolic dish. But when you look at the back, the mirrors are taped together, glued on a plastic thingy and mounted on a cheap-looking frame. Now you know what he doesn't care about. (The image and the video were taken at the Met.)

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