Posts tagged with "foam":

This otherworldly art installation brings sweet silence to New York City

In the city, it can be hard to find places of total quiet. A new exhibition at the Guggenheim, though, tries to tone down loud New York, at least for a couple of minutes.

Artist Doug Wheeler has created expansive works with luminous materials since the 1960s. His latest piece, PSAD Synthetic Desert III, creates the impression of infinite space as it plunges visitors into almost complete silence. With help from what are essentially large Magic Erasers, Wheeler transformed a regular museum gallery into an almost totally silent space meant to evoke the northern Arizona desert.

Wheeler first conceived of Synthetic Desert in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but this is the first time his installation has been realized. Tucked away on an upper floor of the Guggenheim, visitors pass through three sound-cushioned antechambers before entering the installation on a carpeted gangway.

Save for a recording of the desert, the luminous purple-gray space is so soundless you can hear a whole constellation of funny bodily noises that are typically unhearable in everyday life. While sound in a quiet room registers at 30 decibels, in Wheeler's semi-anechoic chamber, noise levels check in at about 10 to 15 decibels.

To achieve this super-quiet, the museum used 1,000 pieces of sound-absorbing melamine foam on one side of the room and on the floor. 600 grey foam wedges line the walls, and 400 pyramids of the same material fill space below the platform where visitors sit and take it all in. The Guggenheim worked closely with Arup sound designers Raj Patel and Joseph Digerness to realize the exhibition, and BASF, the company that created the foam, is an exhibition sponsor.

PSAD Synthetic Desert III  is on view through August 2 at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. More information about reservations and walk-in tickets can be found on the museum's website.

Up on the Roof

Last night was the opening party for No Soul For Sale a (very) temporary show (it closes Saturday night) at the old Dia space on West 22nd Street organized by X Initiative. The crowning achievement--literally--is a lounge designed by LA-based architect Jeffery Inaba and his eponymous firm. An amusing if uncertain follow-up to Dan Graham's former installation, the new piece, entitled Pool Noodle Roof, is meant to provide both comfort and unease. Composed of 15,000 individual pieces of pool noodle foam tubes, each X-shaped (get it?) seat took five hours to make. With 150 seats scattered about the roof, well, you do the math. Part of the time involved in construction was getting the patterns just right, as the chairs spell out a secret message, "bububluooopppp," which Inaba explained is the sound of something either sinking or rising, a commentary on the uncertain state of art and design (markets) and the world in general. But more than anything else, the chairs made for a nice respite from the downright sweltering conditions inside the building. Sadly the capacity crowd was crammed into the Dan Flavin-lit stairwell because strict fire marshall's would only allow 150 people up at a time. Still, it was well worth it, seeing as this is apparently the show of the moment. (Is Jerry Saltz ever wrong?) For the remaining four nights of the exhibition, there will be live events on the roof, so don't think you've missed the party yet. Do hurry, though, before the whole brilliant (colored) thing sinks for good. Or is it rising to heaven, seeing as how Inaba plans on donating the chairs to local communities groups. Assuming, of course, they can stand the relentless abuse of the art world.