I can never really understand what modern art is …. Try as I might, I just can’t get beyond the fact that what may be art to some; is just some random lines and splashes of colors to me. I may seem hypercritical but that’s just the way I feel. Ok, for example can you please tell me why this thing is worth being put up in a museum …..?????? Maybe I can’t reach the higher dimension of thought but still…..
Nevertheless, there do come these brief ‘Oooohhhh…..!!!’ moments, when you suddenly see the tip of the iceberg of something very deep and significant. It is precisely these moments that make you realize the importance of art and creative expressionism. I was very happy when I got the opportunity to do so this time around. This came about as a chance encounter with Gaute Lusnegard, a happy Norwegian who accompanied me around Paris one afternoon. Yes, that’s him standing in front of the giant Spider.
We headed for the ‘Pompadeau musee’ which is a famous modern art museum in Paris. The place reeked of wackiness even before we entered it. There were some pretty crazy exhibits almost all of which made absolutely no sense to me. Luckily, the museum curator was nice and had put up fundae next to each exhibit. Even then it went tangent. Knowledge of Nietzsche or Munch would certainly help but not very much. One of the images that’ll forever remain embossed in my mind is that of a wax model. I wasn’t allowed to take a picture of it, but I’ll still describe it to you in some detail.
Imagine you are in a large hall. The walls are whitewashed and the room is well lit. Kneeling down and praying while facing away from you is a little boy dressed in formal attire. Let me remind you that you this is a wax model (like in Madame Tussauds), so it is almost perfect. You can’t see his face because he is facing away from you. So as you stroll around the room to see his face, it suddenly hits you. The face is not that of a little boy but that of a vicious Hitler. As you look directly into his eyes, you can almost feel the hatred and wrath emanating from it. While we are blasé about the holocaust in India, it a very delicate issue in Europe. Gaute was quite shocked when I told him I had read the Mein Kampf. Among the other German exhibits was a clip from the silent movie of Faust, the part with the three riders.
There were a few exhibits that were fairly obvious like this one with hundreds of scared faces that depicted the atom bomb on Hiroshima. Some plain weird such as the red rhino. Some that straddled the boundaries of art and science - the ‘optimal chair’ was developed by one of the Profs at INRIA (the place where I work). Starting from a solid block of wood, the program uses a Genetic Algorithm to reach an optimal way a chair should be designed. Strange shapes result as a consequence. It is one of those rare occasions when art and science are in harmony and one can glimpse the universal connectedness of all things. Hmmm… too philosophic.
On a lighter note let me leave you with my own contribution to modern art... :) :)