MCASD grants go for outreach, new media
by Nicole Sours Larson
Oct 18, 2007 | 782 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cell phones, iPods, MP3 players, disc jockey audio and video mixing technology are some of the newest tools now in use at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD), thanks to a generous grant of $23,049 from the San Diego Foundation. All these, plus video galleries at both the downtown and La Jolla locations, are new tools to improve interpretation of the museum's collections and exhibitions.

This grant, announced in August, funds a new initiative called Creative Technologies, designed to attract new audiences, broaden museum access and increase viewers' understanding of the art through use of new media and cutting-edge technologies, explained Steph-anie Hanor, MCASD senior curator.

The Creative Technologies program enables the museum to deliver specialized commentary about the individual artworks "“ the commentary is often recorded by the artist, the curatorial team or experts in the field "“ via visitors' personal cell phones or MP3 players available for rent at the museum as well as through exhibition-specific websites.

"There are a lot of different ways to access information or listen to commentary [about the exhibitions]. It gives access to a much larger audience than would come to a museum," Hanor said.

This initiative coincides with the launch of the first of three annual exhibitions supported by a $220,000 grant from the Getty Foundation with the overall theme of "Connecting to Place: Collecting Contemporary Art in Southern California."

This highly competitive Getty Foundation funding program helps museums mount and interpret exhibitions from their permanent collections, explained Anne Farrell, MCASD's director of external affairs.

"They want to help the public understand the works in the museum's permanent collections," she said.

"Soundwaves: The Art of Sampling," which opened in La Jolla on Sept. 23 and will continue through Dec. 30, is the first of the three "Connecting to Place" exhibitions. The theme, Hanor said, means ""˜place' in many layers, specific to our institution, our collections at the museum and the artists from Southern California."

"Soundwaves" consists of about 35 works by 15 different artists, mostly by Southern Californians from the permanent collection. Every piece incorporates sound as an integral part of the art.

"The works employ the deejay's technique of sampling and mixing. Many artists are incorporating clips, some are referencing sound, using found sound or film footage. They're sampling something already existing and remixing it to create something new," Hanor explained.

Other works feature spontaneous sound. Artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, for example, in "Untitled," creates haunting melodies through the chance passage and intersection of china floating on blue plastic children's pools. Some of the works in the museum's collection are somewhat ephemeral and may not last for 40 or 50 years because of the experimental materials the artists chose to work in, Hanor said. Some have a finite life.

"That's the nature of contemporary art. It's not always but can be an experimental process. There are some works that have to be re-created anew each time we show them," she added.

The china and children's pools used in Boursier-Mougenot's "Untitled," now on display for "Soundwaves," are reassembled for each new exhibition according to a specific arrangement of china the artist designed for each pool. The blue plastic pools also are not durable.

"We actually have a stockpile of pools. If they're no longer made, we'd be in touch with the artist or artist's representative to find a suitable replacement," Hanor explained.

The second exhibition in the three-year "Connecting to Place" series, opening in the fall of 2008, will focus on women artists in MCASD's collection and issues of feminism. The third exhibition will look at the Light and Space Movement, which flourished in Southern California in the 1960s and early '70s.

"It's about artists who are creating environments which are engaging our senses in color, light and architectural space," Hanor said.

The museum will also document this final exhibition of the series with a major catalogue entitled "Phenomenal: California Light and Space," examining this movement's significance within contemporary art.

"Light and Space" will include several works purchased with support from a landmark grant of $1.75 million from the Annenberg Foundation, the largest foundation grant MCASD has won. In announcing the award in January of 2007, the Annenberg Foundation stated it was to assist the museum in acquiring installation works and sculpture for the permanent collection, some of which will be exhibited in the museum's new Downtown spaces.

MCASD is located at 700 Prospect St. in La Jolla and Downtown at 1100 and 1001 Kettner Blvd. Both museums are open daily except Wednesdays. For hours, admission fees and current exhibition information, visit www.mcasd.org, or call (858) 454-3541. 
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