Sunday, November 11, 2012

Making Meaning Whenever We Can

I did not anticipate using this blog to catalogue the public art installations of New York City, but I think having a place to jot down a few notes about anything I want has made it easier to write. Ideally most of these posts will be about education, my classroom and my ideas about teaching, but, on the advice of a fellow educator, I'm writing whenever the mood strikes me, whether my subject is education or just learning in general.

Last night I visited Leo Villareal's BUCKYBALL, a 30ft tall geodesic sphere (technically two nested spheres). I had passed by the installation in the light of day, but evening is really the best time to appreciate the constantly changing color patterns of the LED tubes that make up the spheres. The piece is surrounded by Villareal's 'zero-gravity benches,' surprisingly comfortable wooden couches that allow spectators to recline and admire the light show.

I spent close to 20minutes on one of these benches with my companions, and as we watched the patterns of color change, sometimes slowly, sometimes frenetically, we started to imagine the story these lights might tell. To one friend a moment of flickering white was the build up to a frightening climax, while another interpreted the same instant as celebratory excitement.

Despite the informational placard which implies that the LED display is random, the friends I was with felt convinced that the patterns of light told a narrative, perhaps proving that it is deeply ingrained in human nature to make meaning whenever we can.

Maybe this post is about teaching after all. I think it would make for an amazing field trip to bring students to Madison Square Park and ask them to write a story inspired by the evolving light show that is BUCKYBALL. I think they, like their teacher, would find meaning and intention in the way white light slowly creeps along the facets of the sphere before flickering and transforming to orange, pink and blue.

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