Monday, October 09, 2006

contemplation environments



here's a small catalog from the 1970 exhibition 'contemplation environments' at the museum of contemporary crafts in ny.

the basic idea was for the invited artists to create environments that would induce a contemplative state. the interesting thing is how many of the installations involved sound, and how few of the artists were really active in the field of sound art. only irv teibel went on to work with sound extensively, mainly as a pioneer in psychoacoustics; releasing a series of atmospheric LPs of recordings of rain and ocean sounds. (much to the delight of 1970 era stoners everywhere).

there's a lot of sci-fi meditation chambers, a lot plexiglass, and a lot of hippy looking structures built with mud and straw; but there are also some really interesting approaches to architecture - and some early attempts to use sound towards the creation of space (both actual and psychological). i think the curator's text below is still relevant in speaking of the need for solitude to balance the environment most of us are confronted with in our everyday lives...

from the exhibition catalog:

"contemplate is defined as meditation on spiritual things; as the act of considering with attention; as musing, as study. traditionally, man's contemplative needs were fulfilled with his daily direct access to nature. however, today we live in overcrowded noisy, dehumanized communities, where there are few places idea for contemplation. as a result there is a growing need among people for places of solitude.

this exhibition does not deal with the process of contemplation as such, but rather with physical surroundings which somehow elicit a response which can be called contemplative. there can be said to exist a kind of ineffable presence in the architectural space itself which exerts a quieting, peaceful influence on the mind and emotions of the individual who enters it..." paul j. smith.


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