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Around town

October 11, 2009

I took D to see The Lens of Impressionism: Photography and Painting Along the Normandy Coast, 1850–1874 at the U of M Museum of Art yesterday. It was an interesting exhibit and worth a visit, but man, oh man did the lighting designer screw up on one of the walls. The lights are situated in such a way that there’s a heavy shadow from the top edge of the frames intruding on the paintings themselves. These shadows are so intrusive that at first, it looks as though they’re a part of the painting. I’m calling it a mistake, because paintings on the other three walls don’t have this problem — it’s only the one wall.

Aside from those issues, there were a great many photographs and paintings of Normandy, and what was interesting was how the curator set it up so that the viewer could see the same general image, but from the perspective of multiple artists/photographers. Oddly, it was whilst we were looking at these that I finally understood why Plato (via Socrates) was against art, because it doesn’t accurately portray reality — it portrays the artist’s singular vision of a reality that doesn’t encompass the whole. One of the photographers — Davanne, I think — deliberately framed one of his images of Étratat so that only the fishing boats and ramshackle buildings could be seen. According to the accompanying information, he wanted very much to convey the sense that this small fishing village still retained its rural character despite the fact that beyond the framing, there was actually a fairly large tourist town complete with hotels and casinos.

The stupid thing is, I’ve known this forever, but I didn’t make the connection until yesterday. And the same is true of writing — it doesn’t encompass the whole of the writer’s thoughts, it only conveys a very small and specific portion of the writer’s thoughts. But that’s okay. It really shouldn’t do more than that, because honestly? My brain is a scary enough place as it is, and I don’t think anyone else needs to be rooting around in there. Anyway, it was my little epiphany for the weekend, and I’m happy with it.

Finally, to the campus planners at the University of Michigan: handicap accessible restrooms means that anyone can get through the door, not just the able-bodied. Your restrooms in the basement of the new section of the UMMA pretty much fail this basic test of usability. Hell, I had trouble opening the damn doors, and I’m a healthy adult. D, who is 88 years old and who uses a motorized scooter to get around, could not get into and out of the men’s room without help. Add the electric openers already, would you?

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