Last week I went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art with a friend with the intention of seeing the work of very specific artists. One of them, David Hockney, was the suggestion of my friend who had described him as a photographer with a very specific style of collaging different perspectives of the same scene. Well, that held true, but David Hockney is much more than that.
We came to learn that Hockney paints and creates videos in addition to those groups of photos. The whole concept of looking at a scene from many perspectives expanded from my initial expectation of what I would see. Instead of observing prints of photos hanging on gallery walls, we walked into the one-room exhibition, sat down on big comfy chairs, and watch probably 20 minutes of a video- of people juggling.
I did not jump to any disappointment, but I watched openly. We sat down right as the next loop of the film began, and subsequently my friend and I were the only two people for the entire duration; many people peeked in, got bored, got confused, thought it was over, left prematurely. It began with very plainly dressed people filing one by one into a counter clockwise motion around the scene, each with different objects and a different form of juggling. What I found in the film’s entirety was that the parts were disjointed, and the first part gave no indication of what I would find in the second.
[This is a small and probably very illegal clip of the work I found, just to give you an idea of what this actually looked like.]
To go into details of this work of art would be futile as it was powerful in effect and not necessarily in objective description. The effect was stated poignantly in the introduction I read on the wall- the viewer inadvertently creates their own narrative, deciding where to look and recognizing the randomness that comes from so many disconnected and random movements together in one scene. The whole scene was made up of eighteen frames, each with footage taken from a slightly different camera angle on its particular plot of the scene. Sitting there, I would laugh as a juggler dropped his bowling pin, and a moment later another viewer would laugh at something I hadn’t even paid notice too. Rarely did you hear two people have the same reaction. There was an understated purpose in these sparse and individually experienced moments, as I, and I’m sure those around me, silently discerned the meaning of this; that I was viewing this both in solitude and in a group. Nobody else was seeing what I was seeing.
I knew that this wasn’t just humorous or fun, that its place in the museum came about because of an artistic value that my impressionable mind did not pick up immediately. But as I sat longer, and patiently absorbed it, and later on in my day as I moved farther and farther away from that span of time, the meaning resonated in me. This piece of art reflected life as good as any great masterpiece telling of the collective human conscious. We are all here, witnessing the same thing, and drawing these very different stories away, with different meanings and feelings attached.
Essentially, we are all united under this common human condition, regardless of the cards given to us in life. We do not need a piece of art to regurgitate to us the simple truth of our diverse perspectives, but this nice illustration of this idea was refreshing. Yes, we can both be seeing the same thing and be laughing at something entirely different. And I do not at all discount that every person in that room had a moment as subtly profound as mine.