By Milagros Viquez
By design alone, these are the instruments of the future. One resembles a violin, the other a cello and yet another, an electric guitar, except they have been redesigned, or rather reimagined, to look like a cosmic orchestra’s instrument from “The Fifth Element” or perhaps even from a galaxy farther away than “Star Wars.”
Three musicians sit in a semicircle with their instruments, connected to amps if the instrument requires it, and with an overhead chandelier that pulsates to the exact rhythm of the musicians’ strums. Everyone at the main exhibition hall at the Jewish Museum of FL-FIU huddle together in a half crescent moon around the players, some straining their necks to get a firsthand view of the orchestra tuning their starry devices.
The ensuing notes are the musical embodiment of having one’s thoughts, emotions, pain, traumas and happiness delicately removed from the temple by an Elder Wand at the hand of a powerful wizard, or falling into a Pensieve – referring to a magical object from Harry Potter that allows the witch or wizard to review memories by simply dunking their heads in the stone basin.
It’s emotion on a string. As they play, the chandelier plays too; sound emanates from the light structure. It looks like a breath above the musicians’ heads. The chandelier sculpture, called “La Cole,” is a sonic installation with a 3-Dimensional printed panels, meticulously fine-tuned and carefully installed by composer Jacob Sudol.
“It’s almost like painting with sound,” said Eric Goldemberg, principal designer and architect at Monad Studio.
Monad Studio, an architectural firm in Miami that specializes in 3-D printing and digital design as it relates to rhythm and spatial perception, came together with the Jewish Museum of FL-FIU to bring patrons the museum’s first installation of their latest concept, “Subject to Interpretation.”
It’s a departure from the museum’s previous exhibits, including their permanent exhibit “Mosaic: Jewish Life in Florida,” which celebrates the Jewish immigrant experience in Florida dating back to 1763 and until the present-day. A collaboration with the Miami Beach Urban Studios located a few blocks from the museum, on Lincoln Road and Washington, the museum’s director, Susan Gladstone, and Jackie Goldstein, the museum’s curator, wanted to set a new tone with exhibits that are according to Gladstone, “modern, fresh and new” and in doing so, carve out a place for the Jewish Museum in the 21st century.
To further suggest these instruments are magical by nature, they were created using 3-D printers, a technology that up until five years ago, cost about $50,000 to produce just one instrument of that size and dimension. It has become more cost effective now, according to Goldemberg, who has worked with 3-D printers for at least five or six years along with wife and other principal designer and architect of Monad Studio, Veronica Zalcberg.
Goldemberg and Zalcberg co-authored a book, “Pulsation in Architecture,” that came about after the artists’ obsessions with digital printing and rhythm started to grow, said Goldemberg. They also worked with musicians, and one in particular, Sudol, who composed the exhibit opening’s piece, takes this synergy between music and art to a new level. He set up each and every panel on the sculpture “La Cole” and synthesized the music with the pulsation on the sculpture. The music moves in waves across the panels.
The instruments are feathery light, although they appear to be heavy upon first glance with their metallic glean. Goldemberg picks up the violin and places it snugly beneath his chin, saying that these instruments actually take the musicians out of their comfort zones.
“Not only the form of it is provocative,” said Goldemberg. “But immediately, you see them [the musicians] smiling. We’ve played in many places and completely different musicians with different backgrounds – classical musicians, rock musicians – and they all are puzzled by it at the beginning, but the more they play around with it, they end up loving the fact that it’s a new kind of toy.”
The creative minds behind Monad Studio have a direct connection with the Jewish Museum’s true mission. They are Argentinean Jews who moved from Argentina to New York, and then to Miami, to pursue their studies and interests in architecture. This migration and representation of community is embodied in “La Cole.”
“It represents all the many dimensions of the Argentinean Jewish community,” said Gladstone. “All communities are made up of many different sections, many different compartments, many different aspects and that’s part of the mission of this museum. Although we represent the Jewish community, the experience of immigration [and] the experience that many Jewish people have had in the world is universal to many, many, many groups and therefore, this museum is relevant to many, many, many different groups.”
Gladstone and the Jewish Museum is inviting more artists like Zalcberg and Goldemberg to visit the museum’s space, to view the existing exhibits and come up with their own artistic interpretations through their own medium, whatever that may be. For the museum’s next exhibit, Master’s of Fine Arts students will take center stage, their work to be on display next spring.
“Subject to Interpretation: MONAD Studio” ushers in Art Basel season, and it will remain open through Feb. 25, 2018, at the Jewish Museum of FL-FIU.