The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘museum’

The Land Ark of Los Angeles

January 9, 2012 | by

The Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City, California, is filled with objects that disorient as much as they delight. There’s the Deprong Mori, a bat that emits X-rays instead of sound waves and is thereby able to fly through solid objects. There’s the yelping, taxidermied head of the American gray fox, whose voice, upon further inspection, emanates from a small projection of a howling man that hovers over the fox’s unblinking eyeball. There’s a group of microscopes set up to display tiny images of vases and flowers composed of the scales from butterfly wings and a labyrinth of models depicting various superstitions and other pieces of folk wisdom, ranging from the curative properties of mouse pie to the importance of shrouding mirrors during thunderstorms. If you manage to locate the staircase to the second floor, you will be invited to take tea and contemplate detailed oil portraits of five of the Soviet space dogs.

While the Museum of Jurassic Technology, or MJT, might be described as a natural history museum, there is no cataloging to be done here, and no positivist truth about our world to be revealed. Whether or not the phenomena on display are, shall we say, verifiable is an open question. But the museum is far from a simple puzzle where truth can or should be cleanly separated from fiction. Read More »

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Strangers

December 30, 2011 | by

We’re out this week, but we’re re-posting some of our favorite pieces from 2011 while we’re away. We hope you enjoy—and have a happy New Year!

Laurel Nakadate, still from Stay the Same Never Change, 2008, 93 minutes.

When I was in high school, the few friends I had all lived in other states—the far-flung gains of various summer camps—which meant that I took a lot of long train trips on weekends. On these rides, I developed the habit of sitting next to a very specific kind of stranger: a middle-aged man who looked lonely. The goal was to find someone who’d talk nonstop. That was how I met Tom Malone: on the train from New York to Raleigh. Over the course of the eight-hour journey, he talked about everything from his government job to his pit bull’s separation anxiety. He told me he used to braid his ex-wife’s hair every night, back when they were married. He explained in detail the reasons Amtrak’s business model was bound to fail. He said my name a lot, and with formality: “Here’s the thing, Jean,” and so on.

I’d never felt safer in my life, sitting next to Tom—his belly like a life raft, and me nodding like a therapist. At one point though, he ruined the spell. He said, “You look exactly like that girl Lennon dated. What’s her name.”

“Yoko Ono?” I said.

“No, no, not Yoko Ono. Oh, darn it. May. May Pang? You know her? Lost weekend?” I didn’t know her. And I wanted us to go back to talking about him.

About five years ago, when I first saw the work of artist Laurel Nakadate, I could have sworn that she had cast Tom in one of her videos, which feature middle-aged, sometimes overweight, mostly white men who had approached her in the street or hit on her in parking lots. In return, she’d invited them to go home with her and act out strange one-on-one scenarios in front of video cameras. We see them shaking her inert body and yelling, “Wake up! Wake up!” or performing an exorcism, or sharing a birthday cake. In a scene from I Want to Be the One to Walk in the Sun (2006), her hirsute costar strips down to his loose-fitting underpants, while she takes off everything but her bra and panties. Then, with her index finger, she traces a clockwise circle in the air over his head. It’s a signal for him to spin around, which he does, while she watches, unblinking and tender.  Read More »

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