Sunday, July 24, 2016

Event 1: Getty Museum and the Cave Temples of Dunhuang

Earlier this month I went to the Getty Museum. It was my first visit to the museum and I was particularly interested in the Cave Temples of Dunhuang special exhibition. It was an amazing experience. The museum offered a huge variety of artworks on top of its wonderful location outlooking the mountains and LA city.

Proof of Attendance 1: me posing as the sculpture "Air"

The museum is located on the hilltop, so visitors need to take a tram to get to the top. All the structures related to the museum is in white, including the tram and the tram station. It gives a modernized atmosphere to the museum.

Gorgeous view of the architecture and LA city. (Notice the square tiles are all of the same size)

I joined the architecture tour of the museum. A few things about the museum's architecture caught my attention and allowed me to have more thoughts about the relationship between art, science and technology. All the stones and other materials making the outer wall of the museum, and the floor tiles, are 3 feet x 3 feet in size. Even the bushes are cut into cubes with 3 feet long sides. The tour guide explained that 3 feet is chosen in particular because it is a comfortable social distance, according to studies. This way the outlook of the museum would seem more welcoming to its visitors. It is a good example of how artists use social science and psychology to subtly alter view's perception of their work. Also , there were two rifts in the mountains originally, which were used by the architect to orient the museum. Now the rifts become the tram rail and a major pathway of the museum. The geology of the location allow the museum to be built safely and oriented in a natural way. The field of architecture is an epitome of the collaboration of art and science.

Proof of attendance 2: ticket to the special exhibit

I was particularly interested in the special exhibit on the cave temples because I always wanted to visit the original caves in Dunhuang but have never gotten a chance to do so. I was really impressed by the replica caves. The replication was so well done that I almost lost the sense that it was only a replica. This prompt me to remember the reading we did in the unit of Robotics + Art. Walter Benjamin claimed that mechanical reproduction of art "destroys the idea of uniqueness or authenticity in art". However, this is not what I experienced during the visit. Even though the caves are replicas, I can still feel the "aura" of the original cave paintings.

Inside the replica caves. 

In this case, I believe that technology has a huge role in preserving the "aura" in artworks and also allowing more people with no access to the original artwork to experience the "aura" through high quality replications. In other words, technology does not destroy the artwork. On the contrary, technology allows artworks to be vividly alive to more people, extending and expanding the artwork's "life" by replicating it for more people to see.

To sum up, this was a very rewarding experience and I definitely recommend my classmates to go to the Getty Museum and check out this special exhibit, since the original caves are thousands of miles away in China.

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