A lovely afternoon stroll through the East Village - a neighborhood I once called home several years back - was my Saturday afternoon this past weekend. I had lunch at my favorite cheap eats spot, Xi’an Famous Foods, and followed with a tea at Kung Fu Tea. This was my ritual for over a year and a half when I was a resident. Many times a week I indulged in this combo and almost routinely I strolled though the same streets to cross town.
When we received the assignment to choose a sound walk that 1) took place in my old stomping grounds; and 2) provided insight into a place I realized I didn’t know too much history about, my choice was simple - Passing Stranger, an Audio tour and Poetry Walk centered in the East Village created by Pejk Malinovski was a ringer. Looking at the map, I noticed a building that I had walked by well over 1000 times in the past, and immediately chose this as the assignment. As fate would have it, I learned that the first stop of the walk was closed on Saturdays. Saint Marks Church On-the-Bowery happens to only be opened on Monday though Friday - mega sad:face.
Disheartened, I decided to find some time to come back to the walk another time and jetted back to Astor Place to take the N to the Q and head to MoMa uptown to experience Dust Gathering by Nina Katchadourian. Mega bonus - the NYU Access for museums is fantastical and most importantly FREE.
I immediately downloaded the MoMa Audio App (per instructions) to listen to this guided journey of the dust found in MoMa. Unfortunately, either due to user error, or the mere fact that the app did not contain this specific library, and I used the MoMa Website to navigate though the museum. I did ask the customer service team for help in the matter and their response was that sometimes the app is outdated and does not have access to all audio files. Oh well..
I began in the Lobby, where Nina gives an overview of the one thing we overlook the most - DUST! I found the structure of this Audio Walk interesting - it was almost as if I could see her exposition though the museum overlaid on the blank white floors and walls of the museum. I was immersed in this journey, and motivated to find leftover dust that hadn’t been removed. That was a fun extra.
Onward. To the second floor I went; looking back to the lobby as I jetted up the escalator. Learning that the color gray of dust is actually made up of all different colors was astonishing. It was such a clever metaphor for all of the different humans from all over the world with different experiences coming together in one place and merging into one color; gray. It’s also interesting that in ICM, we learn that when all the colors of RGB are brought together at different scale (but the same number) we get a range of gray. At this moment, I felt a small cohesion of life and ITP with the conceptual theories we will learn here. I was motivated to continue.
The Aurthur Young Bell-47D1 Helicopter (1945) is by far the most eye-catching piece besides the garden when you enter the museum. Learning that there were only 3000 of these made, it’s pretty remarkable to see one so elegantly displayed in the most frequented areas of the museum. From the third floor you have a head-on visual of the helicopter, but cannot see the dust from above. I immediately to the fourth floor to see how bad the build up was - surprisingly it wasn’t too built up; the six-month marker for cleaning must have been recent.
Continuing my dust hunt while listening to the remaining five clips, I found a few projectors and saw the dust flying above. It really is everywhere and seems appropriate that the museum staff have such a great sense of humor regarding something so simple, yet so time-consuming to maintain. It really is a thinking point and something that transcends almost everywhere in the city, country, and world. It is a global phenomenon (or simply physics) that bring us together. Whether in an enclosed setting such as a museum or train, or simply in your home with your family and pets. Finding this aspect of uniting in a world that seems so divided is incredibly profound.