Sun, May 23, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Luensman in the Garden of Eden


You can play God by moving the joystick to create a thunderstorm in the blue-lit bucket, in this work by Anthony Luensman.


Anthony Luensman's solo exhibitionErsilia at MOCA takes on biblical themes and Italo Calvino as inspiration for his interactive playful sound sculptures. Luensman's narrow one-room exhibition, stuck between the Digital Sublime exhibition, which may confuse some viewers into thinking Ersilia is part of the main show.

However, that wouldn't be a bad mistake to make as both shows refer loosely to Christian themes and the swarming of bees can be heard throughout the museum, but Ersilia differs in that the artist lets you play God.

The room has an unearthly blue glow and acts like a stage set for the viewer to perform amongst its tangle of wires and buckets. Upon entering the space, a vibrator vibrates to ring a set of chimes. Below this is a revolving platform of little figures rhythmically moving back and forth to simulate the gay dance club scene at Fresh.

A bee comb made from wax and paper is installed in the door trellis. By lifting the wings of a big insect and pressing a button, the tranquility of the room suddenly fills with the ominous sound of swarming bees. Move a joystick slowly around to activate two thunder clouds. Deceptively simple in appearance, the technology is more complicated in that the joystick sends signals to a computer, which sends sound cues to an amplifier, and the two suspended inverted buckets act as subwoofers to create the thunderous noises.

Luensman in his understated way tells us that pastoral innocence combined with the dread/awe of pestilence and decadence is the modern condition.

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