The current exhibition at the Marciano Art Foundation is the splendid and almost preternaturally strange light and sound installation, “Reality projector,” by European interdisciplinary artist Olafur Eliasson. Known for wizard-level feats of epic engineering, staggering scale and conceptual whimsy, his kinetic public art projects are destination viewing, consistently hitting the sweet spot where broad popularity and critical acclaim converge. He is equally at home representing Denmark at the high-stakes Venice Biennale as he is designing a series of enormous mechanized “Waterfalls” along NYC’s rivers. And while his work takes on profound and urgent issues such as climate change and resource scarcity, it does so in an accessible language of joy, wonder, beauty and super-Instagrammable shared experiences. Also, CBD.
“Reality projector” is directly inspired by the enigmatic history and anachronistic architecture of the Foundation’s Masonic Temple location, and specifically the 13,000-square-foot black-box theater housing the installation; in some ways the subject of the piece can be said to be consciousness itself. An empty cavern is dark as a moonless night, lit only by the flickering lights of the far wall. The feeling is not unlike entering a movie theater after the film has started, except the movie is a giant field of slowly shifting colors and overlapping shapes like a broken kaleidoscope, and it has no beginning or end.
It’s quiet, but there is a soundtrack. A halting, ambient score like a robot raga, which Eliasson and fellow Icelander Jónsi, of Sigur Rós, created together. The only other sound is the steady clicks and whirs far overhead, as huge theatrical lights on speed rail travel back and forth along the rafters. Colored gels have been attached to the beams, and as the lights move, they hit different places at random intervals and produce a seemingly infinite variety of pattern and spectrum. It goes on like that for as long as you can stand it, and it keeps going long after you’ve exited. There is no narrative except whatever is happening in your mind. It requires only your presence, not even your full attention. Which is perfect, because apparently the artists want you to see it a little bit stoned.
That’s where tonight’s one-time live sound bath comes in. Jónsi, Alex Somers and Paul Corley will do their avant-garde prana-glitch thing live and somewhat improvisationally while the light show carries on. And while it’s not like getting high in the parking lot hasn’t already occurred to you by now, please appreciate the deeply Californian fact that Lord Jones Pain & Wellness Formula CBD Tinctures will be available to help event attendees achieve a “deeper state of transformation.” You are at your leisure to notice, deconstruct and trip the hell out to your heart’s content. Bring a pillow.
No wonder tickets sold out so fast. But don’t worry — I promised you a hack and here it is. Unlike other FOMO-inducing special art events, this one is easy AF to DIY. The image array is already ever-changing, the existing soundtrack is plenty improvised as it is, you won’t know the difference, it’s so dark you can’t see the DJs anyway, legal weed is plentiful, the show is up through Aug. 26, and regular admission tickets are always free.
Marciano Art Foundation, 4357 Wilshire Blvd., Windsor Square; (424) 204-7555, marcianoartfoundation.org/visit/. Thu.-Fri. & Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; through Aug. 26. Sound bath, Wed., May 9, 6 p.m.
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