Odd that a creative discipline dependent on sight should express itself in invisibility. But that's exactly what two very different artists are doing in Vancouver. Actually, they are both trying to make us conscious of what we DON'T see. I viewed the first exhibiting artist's work at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The curator had culled her (Antonia Hirsch is her name, remember it!), along with other young graduate students, in order to present the emerging generation's vision. The exhibit is called "How Soon is Now" to suggest the immediacy of that vision.
Antonia, the young artist I particularly admired, had created what at first appeared to me as a re-creationg of the big dipper, with metallic silver spheres placed in a specific pattern on a huge, otherwise blank white wall. On closer inspection, the pattern turned out to be Braille for "The Invisible Hand," (the term Adam Smith coined in "The Wealth of Nations" to describe a self-regulatory market). When I looked even harder, I could see my own reflection in the silver spheres, which were actually surveillance spheres, and I could also see the surveillance cameras around the room that were surveying me as I watched myself. Invisibility indeed! Even the watchers are being watched. That's how one young artist sees the world.
The work of the second artist, Jeppe Heim, known as a conceptual artist, was being exhibited at the Contemporary Art Museum, which consists of only two rooms. I can't say I liked his work, but it certainly made me think, which is what conceptual art is supposed to do. The whole exhibit appeared with the title "Please, Please, Please" (as in "Please don't touch the art"). The first room, painted completely white, was empty of everything but a small cube in one corner. As I entered the room, the cube began to vibrate furiously and emitted noises that sounded like an earthquake (and, coming from California, earthquake noises upset me). Small surprise that this room's exhibit was subtitled "The Shaking Cube." It certainly shook. My interpretation is that it is meant to suggest the creative energy that is boxed up inside it and that is struggling to come out. We're not meant to think "inside the box." Our ideas are larger than that.
The second room, also painted completely white, was sub-titled, appropriately, "The Invisible Cube." As I walked into the room, supposedly divided in cubes, ear-piercing, cellphone-like noises were emitted. Only when I finally walked around the perimeter of the room did I notice raised white text running around the room like a chair rail. The text exhorted me to appreciate art in ways I had never done before: to touch it, kiss it, embrace it, dance to it -- well, you get the idea. I was supposed to conceptualize the art in my head projected on the wall. Can't say I really liked the exhibition, but it did make me conceptualize. Invisibly.