We talk, joke, and moan all the time about Hollywood’s constant reuse, recycling, and rebooting of the movies and TV shows of our childhoods and of the childhoods before ours. We enjoy, or just as often roll our eyes, when today’s musicians cover or sample all the favorite songs of previous generations to present echoes of them to new audiences repulsed by old stuff, regardless of its anointed “classic” status.
Last month we found one artist who asked: why stop with cannibalizing the works themselves? Why not repurpose their very containers? What if you take all those shiny, reflective objects that served as portals into our homes for Hollywood and the record labels alike, and converted them into brand new, abstract doorways to imagination?
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: my wife and I paid a visit to the Indiana State Museum to check out a special exhibit celebrating Indiana’s Bicentennial. Before we could make our way up to that floor, even before we paid for our admission at the front desk, we were greeted with the sight of a special collection rivaling all of ours combined, taking up more wall space than all the bookshelves I’ve ever owned.
Behold Event Horizons, a temporary installation by Leticia Bajuyo, artist and professor at Hanover College in southeastern Indiana. One of several such installations she’s crafted, over 12,000 discs were assembled into a 15′-x-60′ wall of sound, video, hidden tracks, enhanced-CD fripperies, special features, commentaries, and annoying autoplay trailers no one will be forced to skip or sit through ever again.
These discarded collectors’ items and bargain-bin rejects converge into four wormholes backlit by LED lights rotating through a variety of colors except when we pointed our cameras at them. We happen to like green, so we’re fine with our results and our impatience.
The introductory placard cites intended themes of perception, memory, and waste. Such objects were once highly sought after by art aficionados and compulsive consumers, many of whom have stories to tell about their favorite purchases and experiences. In recent years, the advent of streaming media and cultural fractionalization — which has made it easier than ever to have no movies, shows, or bands in common with your nearest friends and coworkers — have dampened our national enthusiasm for sprawling shelves and hoarded clutter, have cut down or eliminated our want lists, and have increasingly spoiled us as we slowly approach an era of ubiquitous art access in which anything that has ever been recorded for posterity will be available anytime somewhere out there. And the less our consumption is limited to the jewelboxes and DVD cases we can touch in front of us, the more these pretty objects of aesthetic affection will drop off our personal radar and living room floor plans.
That’s not the reality for everyone right now, though. Physical media remains very much a viable option for folks who live in areas not yet blessed with high-speed internet or 4G networks, those invisible audiences grateful for DSL, big-box multimedia departments, and the last remaining video rental stores that stay in business at their service. Maybe it’s not “cool” or “cutting-edge”, but not everyone’s marching into the gaping, widening, non-physical rabbit hole just yet. They can peer into that abyss from between their alphabetized racks and decide for themselves whether their gut response is material envy or peaceful satisfaction.
If you’re in the area, Event Horizons will be in place through May 2017 at the ISM. As with actual movies and concerts, it’s more impressive and meaningful if you make the effort to venture beyond your protected space and experience it in person for yourself. You’ll be hard pressed to find another wall with building blocks as diverse and as imbued with human spirit as these.