“Less, but better”

I saw the functionalist work of Dieter Rams at SFMOMA today. He designed a gazillion things for Braun, from lighters to TV sets to coffee grinders. His creations are unremarkable in their simplicity; no fluff or attention-getting features. So, I’m not even posting a picture of one of them! Instead, here’s a quotation:

That’s one of my favorite things to do, by the way. →

I went to the museum mainly to hear Bill Fontana’s Sonic Shadows. Fontana is a sound art pioneer and this work records the ambient sounds in the museum and plays them back as a soundscape. I thought it sucked.

To me, it sounded like machine noise, or random sounds. There was no discernible cause and effect between the museum patrons making noise walking, burping, dropping things, laughing, etc., and what the speakers were playing back. Meh.

The museum website says “the work creates an acoustic translation of the physical space.” Yeah, sort of the way that you get mud brown when you mix all the colors on your palette together. Whatever. I did get a nice shot of one of the high tech speaker thingies.

I was feeling kind of cranky about that, because I’d been looking forward to this show. I’ve been creating sound art for the past few years and find it incredibly satisfying and evocative. So it was a big letdown to find out that this “pioneer” is doing stuff that I think is boresville.

Okay, on to a highlight! I sat on the floor in the bookstore perusing the catalog for Pacific Standard Time, which is a ginormous exhibit that just started at the Getty and many other venues in SoCal. I really want to see this show! It covers the SoCal art scene from the end of WWII through the 80’s.

Ed Ruscha! Chris Burden! Ed Kienholz! Robert Irwin! So many of my bigtime faves! I was particularly enchanted with a performance/ installation by Allen Ruppersberg. He opened a “cafe” and here’s what was on the menu →

I would order cotton covered with stardust and Al’s burger: sky, land and water. Maybe with a side of toast and leaves. Yum.


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