Saturday, July 30, 2005

Soul Enrichment and Perception

Nygrah invited me out to hang this afternoon and after multiple attempts and failures at seeing a movie, we grabbed an LA Weekly, grubbed on some Chinese Chicken Salad and did a little research on stuff to do around LA. I'm excited about the Basquiat exhibit at MOCA and the King Tut over at LACMA, but I was really focued on finding something fun and free. The Armand Hammer Museum down by UCLA is free until Labor Day [score!] and there were a few exhibitions that seemed interesting, besides that, we've never been there before. So we headed over to Westwood.

There was one exhibit that was particularly cool. It's by an artist named Fiona Tam.
Corrections is a video installation. On six screens hung in the room is projected a 40 second video portrait of a prision inmate or guard standing still as possible. Unaware as to why these people were in jail, Nygrah and I attempted to assess what they could have done and if they seemed guilty or innocent. Some inmates had faces of stone, some had arms crossed or fists clenched or chose poses which made them look tough. One babyfaced inmate couldn't keep from smiling. There was a cross section of all people...Hispanic, black, white, even this striking little Asian girl. What could she have done? There was a man the looked like Cap'n Kangaroo, another that looked like someone's grandma and yet another that could have been some dude riding the bus.

Beyond all that, the most intersting part of the exhibit for me came not from one of the portraits, but from a comment from one of the viewers. On the screen was a modest looking guy and the first thing I noticed was he was holding a Bible. My first thought was that he must be spiritual to have that with him. Then I decided to just look at his face and eyes and to see what my gut reaction was. His face didn't move me to any kind of perception about him. In fact, I probably would have thought [just by looking at his face] he was guilty of something. Just as I was completing that thought process from behind me I hear a man say, 'he seems like a soulful guy.'

Now that made me wonder about perceptions. Did that man feel that particular inmate was indeed soulful, or did the inmate holding a Bible unconsiously change his ideas about him? We had all been commenting on the faces and body language of all the inmates and neither 'spiritual' or 'soulful' was uttered before that portrait. What makes someone 'soulful' or 'spiritual'? It certainly shouldn't be just carrying around a Bible. Interesting thought regardless. I'll be mulling over that for a little while.

If your in LA and have time, I suggest checking this exhibit out. Hey, it's free! There's also a hilariously pointless video of a place in China called Shangri-La [Yes, a real city is named Shangri-La, but it's no Shangri-La. There are however monks sitting in a fake airplane, wood and glass mountains, wedding portraits and a cake decorating.] and a really cool photography exhibit.