Sunday, January 22, 2012

Eames Day (waste 15 minutes with me!)

I'm absolutely amazed by how many good friends of mine have not seen the Powers of Ten short by Charles and Ray Eames. I was lucky enough to get to see it projected from those wonderful reel to reel projectors that they used to have in high schools in a very early morning physics class when I was about 16. The cinematography was wonderfully clear, and it makes me a little sad to watch it on You Tube, where it looks all pixellated and the stars are all fuzzed out. Before I ever connected the chairs to the film I was completely in love. I took the strip gently out of the reels to look at it frame by frame, and you could see hairs and finger prints on the print, which made the strip itself this fantastically real thing. You tube is a miraculous tool, but give that old fashioned flammable technology with a flickering bulb any day.

Yesterday I got to visit Case House #8, on a gloriously windy California day, right after a rain storm. I got Eames mud all over my shoes. You can see the house (and the lot)featured in the 2nd film, made by their grandson to celebrate their centennial. & I'm happy to say yesterday was a parade of elephants.

The house itself is half empty at present. All the living room furnishings have been temporarily moved to a life-sized reproduction at the LACMA, which I also got to visit yesterday. I love modern furniture, and find it welcoming and gentle. The Eames house, however, seemed boxy and at odds with it's environment. As much as I could enjoy it for it's utilitarian construction (up in 5 days, after all) and can imagine the wonders of its views (especially of the ocean before the trees all grew up), it didn't seem as organically welcoming as their furniture or as intellectually inspiring as their short films. The house seemed almost fortress-like. And I was sorry that the kitchen was so small. Interestingly there was a "pass through" from the kitchen to the communal area that was eliminated in the LACMA reproduction that made it seem even more disfunctional. Don't get me wrong- the house was funky and original, and certainly a playful structure. But I felt strangely as if they were building a box when they would have done much better to have built a parabola.

I'm thinking of writing one of my papers on hosting, and the Eames in particular were great hosts. I'm also going to look into Gertrude Stein and her brother. Maybe I can work MFK Fischer in there as well...

Anyway, it's late now, and all I can really think of is crawling into bed. I have seen, on average, 1.5 museum or gallery shows the last 10 days. When I sleep my head is spinning, and new neurons are getting made so fast that I wake up ravenous. I often forget just how hard it is to look at things.

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