Contemporary Reactions: Life in the Future

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A museum, just like any artwork, is experienced in different ways: collective and individual, participative and voyeuristic, and so on. Some like to take a cursory walkthrough of the museum. Others find one work to focus on. Some like to talk about their thoughts, and others can’t quite find the right words.

For a senior at Payson High School, the overall impression of UMOCA was captivating and entrancing. It wasn’t Andy Stevenson’s first visit to the museum, but this trip left the greatest imprint and quickly became his favorite. This time each of the four galleries, though distinct, fit together perfectly to elicit an immersive experience for Andy: a glimpse into a different reality.

“It was like life in the future,” Andy described.

Everywhere, Andy could feel the push-and-pull of cohesion and contrast, especially in the current Street Gallery exhibition, William Lamson’s Hydrologies. In this series, Lamson created generative works by adding and removing water from various landscapes. Set in the harsh environment of the Atacama Desert, Lamson dispersed water across flat gravel to revitalize the desert flora and documented his process using video and photography. In a parallel series, Hydrologies Archaea, Lamson dispersed the saline water of the Great Salt Lake into a variety of small glassware. After the water evaporated, the remnant salt crystals grew within and eventually enveloped the glass, leaving a remarkable and living sculpture installation.

Here, Andy discovered the multiple layers of give-and-take in Lamson’s work. To Andy, the water functions as a powerful symbol. Lamson physically intervenes by giving and taking water to and from each landscape. The works of art that result are stark and beautiful, and resonate as representations of the giving and taking of life.

“[The museum] made me feel like I was in the future!” Andy repeated, smiling. “And it had this elevated sense of society—a society that is more focused on art.” 

Written By Kathy Zhou

William Lamson: Hydrologies will be on display in the UMOCA Street Gallery through January 10, 2015.