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.