High Museum Blends Visuals With Audio

Many Emory students are prone to staying on campus and inside the “Emory Bubble,” but those interested in a different kind of experience should know that the High Museum is worth an adventure out. The museum features a permanent modern art exhibit, among others. Current exhibitions include “The Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial and a Katharine Grosse” exhibit.

Untitled by Anish Kapoor immediately grabs the visitor’s attention at the entrance to the Contemporary and Modern Art exhibit with a giant, stainless steel disk that incorporates an acoustic component into the experience. Standing up on its side and full of indentations, the piece brings to mind a giant serving bowl or spider eye.

The concave dish features a unique acoustic effect and reverberates noise back about 15 feet because of its concavity. In addition, the indentations show a multitude of perspectives available at every moment by using the design of fractals to create reflections for each image.

Nadine Robinson’s “Coronation Theme: Organon” is another favorite as it also blends acoustics with visuals. The piece features a wall of speakers shaped to the façade of the Ebenezer Baptist Church where Martin Luther King was pastor.

The piece mixes the eye-catching design of 28 audio speakers with the modest singing of the choir that constantly softly sings to demonstrate the humbleness, innovation, and perseverance of Dr. King.

One onlooker commented that the “softly playing gospel music creates a modern ode to MLK in both its innovative design and also the underlying connotation that the Church will always be singing even after the death of one of its most beloved pastors.”

Another prime example of the interplay between modern art and history is Untitled by Katharina Gross.

Through this 3-D structure that challenges the classic confines of the canvas, Katharina Gross believes that “space is a multi-dimensional phenomenon that changes all the time.” Gross allows her art to fill more space than just a simple canvas and believes that any point in space can become art.

The piece also pays homage to street art, which has a huge history in Germany’s art culture. When the Berlin Wall was up, as an act of rebellion against the communist government of East Berlin, many artists took to the Berlin wall and painted to express themselves.

To this day Germany pays homage to these artists in the “East Side Gallery” on display in Berlin, which features some of the most famous modern works by Germans.

The use of acrylic spray paint pays homage to this part of Germany history and highlights the importance of street art within their culture and the inability to confine art simply to the canvas.

In a piece that doesn’t incorporate audio, “Night” by Jeff Wall begins as a painting so dark that the figures and shapes are almost indistinguishable.

As the viewer’s eyes adjust to the lighting, the painting displays a homeless camp in a dried out river bed of concrete.

As the eyes adjust more, the viewer sees the reflection of the scene in the water remaining in the gully.

The painting slowly brightens and reveals itself the longer the viewer takes to adjust to the picture. It makes the statement that you must always observe the world around you or else you might miss things simply by glazing over the details.

The life of a homeless person in an urban setting can quickly be ignored by the darkness usually surround the situation, but after adjusting to the light it is almost inescapable.

Those interested in seeing these pieces should know that the High Museum offers a student discount and is open every day but Monday. Students should look forward to college night where admission is only $5 on February 23rd.

— By Tina Grajewski  

cgrajew@emory.edu