November 02, 2004

Plus la Massive Change...

Massive Change: registering opinion
Originally uploaded by blackbeltjones.

… the more stuffy galleries stay the same…

I wasn’t expecting to be impressed by the Bruce Mau instigated and designed “Massive Change” exhibition, and the densely-set, impenetrable and prententious prose that decorated the first room just reinforced my preconception.

But then, pretty quickly it hit it’s stride with innovative displays of process and prototype models for Dean Kamen’s Segway and his kerb-climbing wheelchairs; and input tools for computer system of the last 30 years. Other rooms like one focussed on types of scientific imaging, and another on visualisations of the Earth were dramatically staged and rich with content.

However, the exhibition’s stated goal is that it is not about “the world of design, but the design of the world” (something touched-on here before now) - it’s job is to infect visitors with possibility and have them carry that out into the world. It is also a show that relies heaviliy on visual evidence, often densely-overlayed and spectacularly staged visual evidence, that might require some reflection from the visitor before the ideas could be taken on board.

Why is it then that Vancouver Art Museum doesn’t allow anyone to take photos of this visual evidence? I asked and was given a standard policy line.

Liz Goodman and myself then just resorted to a kind of cameraphone cat-and-mouse with the gallery attendents and trying to look like we were texting with our phones when they circled by. We were timing their passes and whispering “cover-me” by the end of our visit, like we were near completion of some imaginary “Metal-Gear Gallery” stealth-imaging game.

If the goal of the show is to instill massive change, why restrict the spread of the ideas contained within the show to within the walls of the museum?

Mau would do well to revise the next staging to allow some kodak moments for aspiring design activists.