Details, Shadows, and Imperfection

Today I set out to attempt to get quality pictures of art despite my phone’s terribly hazy camera. Strangely enough, the contrast between my blurry images and the reality I saw made me appreciate my visual surroundings more. Taking photographs actually helped me remember the exhibit, especially because I paid attention to detail. Below are my three favorite photos, each displaying my camera’s low quality as well as the amount of imperfect shadow and detail present in each piece.

Aside from their intricate nature and aim to inspire awe, the works of art in the Renwick’s Wonder Exhibit were unified by their attention to detail and aim to make the viewer see their surroundings differently. To me, the backstories behind the art and artists were important to read. They provided context to the reasoning and methodology behind the patterns I was viewing.

My three favorite exhibits were the room with walls made of 100% dead insect, the marble composed Chesapeake bay and the light fixture above the central staircase. The bug room was fascinating because the artist, , was able to arrange organic beings in patterns that were incredibly angular and geographic. I looked close to see detail. Each insect had geographic designs adorning its exoskeleton, making the entire room a fractal of polygonal units. Occasionally, though, there was an imperfection, such as one insect being slightly awry. This reminded me that the work was purely organic and nothing organic can be perfect. When I first read the sign about the light fixture, I wasn’t sure where the art was. I had ignored the lights above me as I climbed the staircase. I thought nothing of it and looked at the tsunami piece. When I exited, I saw the light fixture, and everything made sense. I stared at the light fixture for a while. A formation of LED lights never repeated itself, making simply staring at the fixture entertaining. At one point, the lights seemed to become wavelike. I was unsure of whether or not this was because I was seeing a different perspective or because of the code programming the lights. This made me realize that perspective is never identical. On Earth, there is constant change over time and nobody ever looks at the world the same exact way twice. The Chesapeake bay piece was interesting because of its attention to detail and shadow. Marbles were arranged around the room and even fastened to walls and windows. One tendril in particular was seen in the form of shadow behind the blinds of a window. To create alternations of color, some marbles were double stacked, making a sea of glass seem more like the actual ocean, with waves and uneven color.

The most significant part of my excursion to the Renwick came after I left the Gallery. As I was walking back on H street underneath a tent covering the sidewalk next to the IMF, I realized that I was still looking at my surroundings in the same way that I looked at the art. Leaves on trees appeared to me as individual units, each with its own unique shape and shadow. Shadows in particular seemed to stand out to me. I see the blue GW sign by University Yard every day, but only today did I see the shadows of trees dancing on it.

I know now that I need to pay attention with the utmost detail to the images I’ll write about for my essay. Staring at photos and art may be the best way to become familiar with my content. I’ll appreciate the detail, shadow, and imperfection that gives the world we live in such diversity and beauty.

-Noah Wexler


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