Soundtracks, by Huck Shelf

Recently, I attended the Soundtracks exhibit at SFMOMA along with the rest of the Creative Writing department. The show brings together works of art by a variety of artists that work with sounds and music. While CW makes it a habit to regularly go off-campus to see different art and cultural events, we went to this particular exhibit because we had been doing a unit based around music and writing.

The centerpiece of the exhibit is a video installation called The Visitors by Ragnar Kjartansson, which lasted about forty-five minutes. In this piece, a band, scattered throughout different rooms in a Hudson Valley mansion (each shown on a different, life-sized screen), play a long interconnected piece of music, made up of three or four repeated phrases. As the song comes to an end, a cannon fires and the musicians join together and make their way outside the out where they continue to sing as they walk offscreen. I felt that thematically and conceptually, this work was very interesting, but I would’ve appreciated a slightly less repetitive musical procession.

There were other surrounding exhibits, all playing off of the idea of sound in modern art. One particularly interesting piece was a cloud of red wires. There were headphones hanging on the wall next to it, and anybody walking into this room put a pair on and turned it on. As you walked around the cloud, different industrial sounds would play. This made it seem like the cloud was a sort of conduit to some mechanical entity, or even just to technology.

The field trips are one of the coolest aspects of Creative Writing. We are exposed to art we wouldn’t otherwise see, and are able to experience it and discuss it in our tight community, Even if this particular exhibit didn’t grab me as much as some have, it was still an interesting art installation and a positive experience.

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