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Wunderkammern

April 22, 2010

Exhibit from the Museum of Jurassic Technology. Photo by Ryan Schude. (Whose work can be seen later this month at This, Los Angeles, here in Highland Park.)

Saturday, April 24th is shaping up to be a day for great events in Northeast Los Angeles. Besides the aforementioned Earth Day Celebration, Occidental College is hosting a wonderous and wonderful day-long event that explores the subjects of Art and Science combined in the form of Wonder Cabinet.

My all-time favorite show at The Getty was Devices of Wonder in 2001. That exhibit introduced me to term Wonder Cabinet, or Cabinet of Curiosities, that began in the Renaissance and gave birth to museums as we know them today. On Saturday, April 24, Occidental College will return to the days before science and the arts separated into mutually exclusive domains as critic, intellectual impresario, and author of the best-selling, Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder, Lawrence Weschler brings his day-long Wonder Cabinet to Eagle Rock.

For almost nine hours in Occidental’s Thorne Hall, from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Weschler, the college’s Remsen Bird Artist in Residence, will present an ostentatiously interdisciplinary cavalcade of artists, performers, and scientists, who, by way of music, film and Powerpoint, will celebrate the odd, the marvelous, and the drop-jawed amazing.

The program is free and open to the public. A continental breakfast and lunch will be available for purchase.

Weschler’s Wonders will be presented in the following order (program is subject to change):

10 a.m. Overture: A medley of short films from Jessica Yu, Ed Ruscha, the Center for Land Use Interpretation and Boris Hars-Tschachotin covering everything from the sour death balls to obsessions with petroleum, clogged carburetors and bottled lizards.
11:15 a.m.: Photographer Lena Herzog sets her gaze upon the jugged fetuses in Peter the Great’s Kunstkammer – Russia’s first museum – and specimens in several other major collections.
11:45 a.m.: Famed historian, magus, and sleight-of-hand master Ricky Jay decants his own Collections of Remarkable Men.

12:30 p.m. Lunch break

1 p.m.: David Wilson, the MacArthur-winning founder of the Museum of Jurassic Technology, uncovers the remarkable Russian mystical origins of the Soviet space program.
2 p.m.: Oscar-winning film and sound editor Walter Murch discusses his rehabilitation of a long-discredited theory regarding the pattern of planetary and lunar orbits, a formula that turns out to suggest a real-life music of the spheres.
3 p.m.: Cal Tech physicist Ken Libbrecht reveals the secret life of snowflakes.

4 p.m. A short break

4:30 p.m. Michigan artist Matt Shlian’s uncanny paper-folds bridge art and science, with implications for everything from proteins to renewable energy.
5:15 p.m.: New York artist Lauren Redniss previews her latest marriage of words and images: a ravishingly illustrated life of Marie Curie.
6 p.m.: Identical twin artists Ryan and Trevor Oakes invent (or rediscover) a whole new way of depicting spatial reality: meticulous camera obscura tracings of the world, deploying no other equipment than their eyes.
7 p.m. Guitar Boy (Nancy Agabian and Ann Perich) rock us out with a final medley of deliciously sly and twisted songs.

7:30 p.m. The Wonders finally cease

Highly recommend catching the talk about the remarkable Russian mystical origins of the Soviet space program by the subject of Weschler’s book, Museum of Jurassic Technology founder, MacArthur Genius, David Wilson. Also, do not miss a talk by the owner of the world’s largest collection of dice, Ricky Jay. A highlight indeed.

Saturday’s event at Occidental is part of their First Annual Spring Arts Festival that began Wednesday with an exhibition in dance, and ends Sunday with music and literary reading on Sunday.

All of this wonder is wonderfully free and part of the wonderous wonders to be found at our favorite nearby college in Eagle Rock. Not familiar with the wonderful campus at Occidental College? Check the map!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 24, 2010 10:33 am

    I can’t make it though I’d love to. Hope you do and tell us all about it.

    1 p.m.: David Wilson, the MacArthur-winning founder of the Museum of Jurassic Technology, uncovers the remarkable Russian mystical origins of the Soviet space program.

    That sounds very interesting although I hope he bypasses the whole two headed dog experiments that took place in the Soviet space program. I read about it in a book called “Stiff” and I still haven’t gotten over the descriptions.

  2. April 26, 2010 2:13 pm

    It was a fantastic series of lectures. Thanks to one of those “Too Much To Do Weekends,” I only caught a small portion of the day. Would have loved to be able to stay the whole day. It was completely fascinating.

    Thankfully David Wilson did pass up the two-headed experiments, as well as a lot of the other unpleasant aspects of the soviet space program. In 2005, The Museum of Jurassic Technology mounted an exhibition of oil paintings by M.A. Peers, of all the soviet spaces dogs that they took to St. Petersburg in 2009.

    One of the lectures I came midway in was an amazing lecture about gravitational astroacoustics. Missing the introduction, I assumed that he was some mathematics professor who did this sort of research professionally. No. It was Oscar winning sound and film editor, Walter Murch!

  3. April 28, 2010 8:23 pm

    The best shows for lovers of arcane info

    I wish I’d seen the exhibition put on by the J museum on letters to the Mount Wilson Observatory. Heavy sigh

  4. dave9 permalink
    May 21, 2010 3:46 pm

    “I wish I’d seen the exhibition put on by the J museum on letters to the Mount Wilson Observatory. Heavy sigh”

    I believe it’s up permanently.

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