‘Curious Minds’, Israel Museum, Jerusalem

6 Dec 2011

Curious Minds: New Approaches in Design and Art, is the largest design exhibition staged by the Israel Museum since its renovation. It indeed offers new approaches, and is one of the most fascinating exhibitions of its kind to be launched in Israel in recent memory. 

Under the rubric of “critical design,” the exhibition features works that deal with questions relating to society, politics and the environment, the collaboration between artists and researchers from various scientific spheres raising such issues. The exhibition’s subtitle, “New Approaches in Design and Art,” hints at its essence: This is a strange combination of a modern room of wonders and a laboratory in which designers and engineers toil. The show can be seen as an introductory lesson in contemporary design and art. It encompasses most of the phenomena that have characterized the world of design in recent years: a return to work produced by the human hand, and the combination of handicraft and digital technology; the tension between high tech and low tech; works in which the story “behind the scenes” can be more interesting than the final product itself; and last but not least, the theme of nature and it relationship with technology.

Take, for instance, two light sculptures displayed by Studio Drift at the exhibition’s entrance. The first, “Fragile Future 3,” tries to provide a glimpse of a future in which the natural world coexists with the man-made world of technology. The work is made of dandelion seeds, LED lamps and phosphor bronze. Specifically, its electronic rings are created by phosphor bronze strips cut by laser beams; the dandelion seeds, which were pasted one by one, by hand, onto the LED lamps, are illuminated by electricity. The result is a fascinating study in contrasts of lightness and heaviness, natural and artificial materials, fragile and solid items, high tech and low tech.

The second work displayed by Studio Drift is “Flylight,” made out of glass, copper threads and electronic objects. Inspired by the flights of starlings, this interactive work is comprised of 160 illuminated glass tubes connected to electronic sensors; the sensors are connected to a computer program which simulates the behavior of flocks of birds. The result is a hypnotic light display. – Alex Ward – curator of the exhibition.

Israel Museum