Blog

August 2, 2016

Queer Nature in Transdimensional Space

OMCA presents new immersive art experience Notes From Camp

By Christina Linden, Associate Curator of Painting & Sculpture

In science fiction, transdimensional describes something that comes from or relates to a dimension beyond the 3-D world we generally accept as normal. OMCA’s new multimedia site-specific installation, Notes from Camp (AKA Transdimensional Ghost Town Discotheque) is a liminal space that blurs the boundaries between natural and unnatural, city and country, camping and campy.

As an artist who also worked for a long time at OMCA, Cummings created the installation in reverence to the amazing and beautifully crafted installations she so admires in our history and science galleries. It is also an homage to all things queer and sparkly.

A disco appears in the darkened corner where an abandoned country shack abuts a cave, lit from within by several sources. Lanterns made from rusty popcorn tins shot full of holes are combined with colorful LED lights and a video with images of sparkly phenomena from nature: brilliant minerals, sunlight on the surface of water, schools of shiny fish, and crystals of ice. The installation is truly immersive; weathered and intriguing on the outside but infinitely reflective and twinkly on the inside.

This newly created artwork is near the entrance of the Gallery of California Art, in the area formerly known as Art 360. Longtime OMCA visitors will remember that this space once featured iconic art pieces from the OMCA Collection that spun on a slowly rotating display, giving visitors the chance to contemplate the works from literally all angles.

Notes from Camp is a reinvention of this space that expands on this original vision. Our goal was to work with a contemporary artist to create a unique, multi-sensory immersive experience. We hope that it will inspire visitors to explore new ways of thinking about and experiencing art in a museum setting.

When she conceived of the piece, Cummings was contemplating the blurring of boundaries between the natural and artificial. “Nature gets used in arguments about human behavior—the argument goes that heterosexual bodies and behavior are somehow natural, and queer bodies and behavior are unnatural. And rather than appeal to nature, queer aesthetics delight in the artificial, the hyperbolic, the synthetic. ‘Natural’ is a construct, but it doesn’t know that,” says Cummings.

Feel free to dance in there if you feel like it, or just zone out on the metallic beanbags. While you’re at it, explore your own response to the mash-up of natural and artificial materials, sounds, and images, contemplating the artist’s question: What is the nature of natural?