Friday, April 10, 2020

Clinamen v.3

----- 500 words
----- write about any piece of art that moves/ moved you
----- cannot use the words "transcendent", "ethereal", "divine", and "sublime"
------5:30 pm

Perhaps moved is the wrong term. This was a work of art that stilled me, art which kept me with it for a long, long time.
This was in late 2017. We had gone to the USA for our second innings as grandparents, and, shortly after that major event, went holidaying in Denver, Seattle, and, finally, San Francisco. After a couple of days spent with our nephew and his family in the suburbs, we moved to a hotel in Union Square. After we checked in, our nephew kindly dropped the spouse at the train station (he had a meeting somewhere), and left me at the doors of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. It was a day full of much magic and fabulous art, including the art of Diego Rivera, Edward Hopper, and so many others. I went slowly from room to room, from exhibit to exhibit, some strange, some marvelous: all amazing experiences.
And then, in a large room, a circular blue pool, with a light brown wooden surround. A low wall, perhaps a foot above the ground, at the edge of the surround, with a large gap, or opening in it, a doorway, as it were, to the pool. Several people were sitting on that low wall, seemingly enchanted by the installation. Inside the pool, several flat bottomed white porcelain bowls of different sizes, floating on the surface of the water, moving along on invisible currents, chiming randomly as they did so. They gently chimed when they touched, and then moved on. The sound was soft, gently compelling me to sit and stay awhile. How random were the encounters of each bowl, how utterly unpredictable! I tried following one particular bowl for as long as I could, but it was a difficult task. Our human interactions seemed as random, as governed by chance, as the interactions between the bowls. I submitted to the experience, allowing myself to be completely absorbed in the magical, musical clinks as bowl struck bowl.
This soundscape, called clinamen v.3 (2012-ongoing) was created by the French artist Celeste Boursier-Mougenot. The title is derived from the Latin term used by the Roman philosopher Lucretius to describe the unpredictable nature of atoms, in his poem, The Nature of Things. (According to Wikipaedia, Clinamen is the word Lucretius gave to the unpredictable swerve of atoms. He means that these atoms don't just fall down, but because of the swerve collisions happen.[1] Lucretius wrote that without this slight swerve (atoms) would "fall like raindrops and never touch and the world would have never been made".[1] Lucretius was the first to write about Chaos theory.[2] )    
Atoms or people, to me it seemed much the same. All encounters, ultimately finite. Ultimately unpredictable. All random. What forces were at play here, I wondered. Never had I thought, that of all the wonderful art I have seen in my life, I would be so utterly and totally enchanted by a small round pool of water with bowls floating in it!        

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