Postcard from San Francisco
October 23, 2012 | by Sadie Stein
Greetings from the West Coast! While visiting the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art over the weekend, I was struck by Ed Osborn’s piece, Night-Sea Music, in which a series of music boxes play via rubber cables. Visually arresting and haunting to listen to, it would have been engaging on purely aesthetic terms. But the caption tells a whole other story:
The piece is titled after a John Barth story, “Night-Sea Journey,” which is narrated by a confused and not altogether enthusiastic single spermatozoa on its journey in search of ... well, something (the narrator is not very clear on the concept). The twisting and spasmodic movements of the piece alludes to those tiny twitching travelers whose brief existence is a suicidal mission to carry information through a difficult environment. The music boxes all play the old folk tune “The Merry Widow,” which serves as a wink and a nod towards the overwhelmingly futile energies expended by all those determined sperm.