Mass MoCA in North Adams is taking advantage of its beautiful 16-acre property with a growing program of high-concept, high-impact outdoor installations, much the way the DeCordova Museum has capitalized on its lakeside location with a sculpture garden.
MoCA’s newest—the provocatively named Geometric Death Frequency –141, by Prague-based artist Federico Diaz—took the familiar notion of site-specific art, ran it through an algorithm and reassembled it by robots.
Diaz started with a photograph of the museum’s courtyard and converted the image’s 2-D pixels into 3-D voxels, assigning fluid-dynamic properties to each voxel to create a computer-animated wave.
He stopped the animation when it ceased to resemble the original image, at frame 141, to arrive at the final design. “It’s like a moment of death,” says Joseph Thompson, Mass MoCA’s director. “Light stops, time stops—hence the name.”
Heady stuff, as conceptual art often is. But the installation’s appeal reaches beyond the smarty-pants set. “It’s very attractive to children,” says Thompson. “They want to touch it.” Thus it’s perfect for MoCA, whose visitors range from intellectuals who grok on process and meaning, to those preferring artworks that capture the eye, and the imagination, without needing an explanation.
Geometric Death Frequencyopened last fall, and over the next few months visitors can watch the giant black wave trickle into the museum’s lobby, as more black spheres are glued precisely into position. “The sculpture isn’t just a black wave,” says Diaz about his creation, “but it’s a physical representation of the direct energy of the site. It’s possible that viewers will intuitively feel this.” 87 Marshall St., North Adams, 413-662-2111