austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

We are ten billion year old carbon

It's been nearly a month since Singapore went all-out with a public festive affair, so it's due. In the new Biennale (pronounced like ben-nal-lee, if the evening news is to be believed) festival all manner of contemporary art will be unleashed on the public, everything from bright purple signs being put up in the windows of City Hall through to a display one can walk on decorated with characters which look at first glance like Chinese characters, but which are really just highly stylized presentations of English words. That's one way of making sure people will stop and look a good while at your art exhibit: make it a word puzzle.

I forgot completely about the launch party, which is just as well since I had too much actual work to do. Besides, the news featured the thing that really interested me, a network of balloons set up with arrays of LED lighting inside. As a result of this the balloons could brighten or darken on cue, or change color, making for some magnificent light displays of the kind I'd previously associated only with screen savers.

One thing that's got me wondering is the media reception booth is itself an artistic display: it's your familiar sort of cylinders-and-panels design so popular with people who played excessively with Girder and Panel sets, but it's built out of cardboard and paper. When the Biennale finishes in three months it'll be taken apart and recycled. Neat and odd, certainly, but doesn't that mean it just has to be inside a building that can withstand an ordinary rainstorm?

And there's a weird science fiction movie background to many of the exhibits. One is an eight-meter-tall aluminum-mesh model of an iceberg fragment, which you -- note the pronoun -- can walk under. Apparently you can also put a USB drive into it and get the polygon-rendering data on it. There's a giant glass ... thumb-like shape with lighting going up into it to refract in weird ways in the room. And another artist had the idea of putting up frames with some sort of agar inside. When the festival opens, the plastic sheets will be ripped off and whatever cultures fall on them will grow into all manner of fascinating colors. These exhibits better be accompanied by theramin music, that's all I'm saying.

Trivia: The fireworks at New York City's City Hall in the 1858 Festival of Connection (for the first, ultimately failed, transatlantic telegraph) set off a fire which destroyed the building's cupola. Source: Gotham, Edwin G Burrows, Mike Wallace.

Currently Reading: Asimov's Science Fiction, September 2006.

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