Can't Look Away is closing July 30, 2017

MoPOP is closing the door on its iconic horror exhibit this month. This is one of my all time favorite experiences at MoPOP and I always make time to stop by when I'm visiting. If you haven't already, be sure to check it out!

But don’t breathe that sigh of relief just yet. The nightmare continues with a new horror exhibit opening this fall.
— MoPOP Weekly

You can read my 2013 review here.

#TBT Daughter of Dawn

http://moviessilently.com/2016/08/07/the-daughter-of-dawn-1920-a-silent-film-review/

http://moviessilently.com/2016/08/07/the-daughter-of-dawn-1920-a-silent-film-review/

Sometimes I go to very cool, very interesting things and fully intend to write about them in the blog. And then I forget. Instead of simply letting these stories go un-shared, I've decided to simply post them when I do happen to remember. So here's a throwback for you!

The Paramount puts on various Silent Movie series throughout the year. This February I was fortunate to attend one of the showing with a friend of mine. Not only is the Paramount a beautiful theatre in the heart of downtown, but their "Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ" is a marvel all its own. Seriously, go check it out.

This particular Monday, we went to see Daughter of Dawn. It was released in 1920 and restored in 2012 by the Oklahoma Historical Society. In 2013 it was added to the National Film Registry.

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Just before the start of the film there was a brief discussion of the plot and the cultural significance this film has for us today. There was also a discussion afterwards with Tracy Rector, local Indigenous filmmaker, Dr. Cornel Pewewardy, Director of the Indigenous Nations Studies Program at Portland State University and Dr. Charlotte Coté (Nuu-chah-nulth), Associate Professor, University of Washington, Department of American Indian Studies. Sadly, my friend and I couldn't stay for the discussion portion. (Something I will remember for next time!)

A large part of what makes this film so interesting is the cast and set. The cast was made up of over 300 members of the Comanche and Kiowa tribes and much of the set was supplied by the actors. The clothing, homewares, and tipis were actual goods used by these people, not just set dressing. 

The film includes a significant tipi given by Cheyenne Chief Nikko-se-vast to the Kiowa Chief Dohausen. The tipi in the movie was renewed in 1916 with images painted by Haungooah or Silverhorn and Stephen Mopope, one of the Kiowa Five. That very tipi was given to the Oklahoma Historical Society in 1928.
— Oklahoma Historical Society

The story was about Daughter of Dawn and her complicated love triangle with White Eagle and Black Wolf. Another woman, Red Wing, is tragically in love with Black Wolf. It's all a bit of a mess. Add in some inter-tribal conflict, buffalo hunts, dancing, midnight boat rides, and some deceit and you have 80 solid minutes that could rival today's film industry.

My favorite scene is also possibly the most absurd. Black Wolf and White Eagle must perform a test of their courage to prove who deserves to marry Daughter of Dawn. So they're ordered to jump off a rock cliff. (?!) Black Wolf clings to the cliff face, in a show of cowardice. White Eagle bravely leaps off the cliff and surprisingly endures very little physical damage. 

Daughter of Dawn is a special film. It featured Native people, wearing their own clothing, and doing their own cultural dances in a time that was highly antagonistic towards their way of life. This gives us a rare glimpse into the historical context and use of materials often only seen in museums. It is a type of representation that is altogether foreign to our modern cinematic experience. 

The opening scene of the 1920 silent film, "Daughter of Dawn," by Norbert Myles. The film was rediscovered and restored by the Oklahoma State Historical Society, Dr. Bob Blackburn, Executive Director. The musical score was composed by Dr. David A. Yeagley (Comanche). Dr. Yeagley was commissioned by the Oklahoma State Historical Society, December 12, 2007.

Barrier /ˈberēər/ noun: a fence or other obstacle that prevents movement or access.

This month for First Thursday I took the bus up to the University of Washington and visited the Henry Art Gallery. My sister and a couple of friends decided to join me, which made the experience so much better. It was a beautiful day and the exhibits were relatively empty. Our visit was brief but we were able to partake of several lovely exhibits and explore some art forms we wouldn't typically seek out. 

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Downstairs there was a lovely display entitled "Summer Wheat: Full Circle". The three hung pieces consisted of a metal mesh covered in paint and they have the appearance of a sort of quilted fabric. We got very close (although careful to not touch) in order to better examine the technique used by the artist. Unbeknownst to us, there was a narrow line painted on the ground delineating the intended distance visitors remain from the art. Unfortunately, this barrier repeatedly proved to be insufficient. Two different groups of people were gently reminded to step back while we were viewing the pieces. A gallery attendant was stationed nearby with the responsibility of issuing said reminders.

In another area of the museum, we ran into another distance based quandary. There was a large temporary exhibit entitled "Fun, No Fun" which encompassed a built ramp system, a smattering of ground level sculptures, and floor coverings. There were no ropes, lines, or barriers of any kind. There were, however, two more gallery attendants. As we moved through the space, my friends asked me whether they were supposed to touch the works or not. When we asked the attendants about their policy we got a hesitant response. "Well.....no...you're not really supposed to", one said while looking at the other for confirmation.

The reluctance to utilize physical barriers is something I find most often in art museums. It can be perceived as taking away from the experience of the visitor or the aesthetic of the art itself. Most often though, I find it to be confusing and unsettling as a visitor. In particular, the use of psychological barriers, like the painted line on the floor, tend to be frequently overlooked. This can put the art at risk and make the guests feel foolish for not noticing their mistake.

Take it as the perspective of someone in collections management: I like physical barriers. I like climate controlled spaces and gloved hands. I like railings under which children cannot crawl and over which adults cannot step. I'm biased in this way. 

I think the Henry does a great job of having many attendants on hand to deal with issues as they arise. Each person was friendly and engaging, even if a few could use a little more confidence in their answers. My main recommendation would be to have the attendants be more forthcoming with instructions; which saves the visitor from having to ask. Having a diligent person there to provide guidance to the visitor is a reasonable solution to the lack of physical barriers. I may always prefer a more tangible boundary to interacting with museum objects, but when it comes to art this may be a close second.

LCM: Bigger and Better

The Living Computer Museum has undergone a transformation. The gallery space has more than doubled and the exhibits are better than ever. More than anything, their mission to "maintain running computer systems of historical importance" is highlighted through their expansion into contemporary computing.

Upstairs is largely the same, showcasing the history of early computing. The displays have been reorganized and updated, but the general material remains. While preservation is at the heart of all museum collections, the Living Computer Museum emphasizes the restoration of historic computers to functional use. Many of their displays are fully functional and visitors are encouraged to sit down and explore. Their dedication to interactivity is not only fun, but crucial to fully appreciating the evolution of computing technology.

Upstairs Gallery

Upstairs Gallery

Apple Macintosh

Apple Macintosh

I've found that computing history showcases interesting generational variances. The early years of punch cards and mainframes bring to mind stories my parents like to tell about their high school and college years.

The early days of the internet and PC's are right in my nostalgic wheelhouse. The Apple Macintosh, in particular, has a special place in my heart. As a child, my sister received a Macintosh and it blew my tiny mind. Not only did she have her own computer in her room, but it came with its own printer! A few years later I inherited that computer from her. What does a 6 year old need with a computer? Nothing, but it was a novel distraction. 

Downstairs focuses on the present and future of computing. Self-driving cars, robotics, art and music, augmented reality, and more. This era of computing is a little more outside of my comfort zone, but LCM makes everything very approachable.

Downstairs Gallery, viewed from the Mezzanine

Downstairs Gallery, viewed from the Mezzanine

The Mezzanine and Lower Floor of the museum are full of engaging and innovative displays. Part of the fun for me was watching as other guests delighted in the exhibits. Delighted exclamations ring out as people discover new and interesting things. 

On several occasions, I was also caught up in the wonder of these new innovations. In particular, there was one life-sized humanoid robot manipulating small toys to run along a track. Watching a machine complete such simple tasks, with graceful and purposeful movements, blew me away. Call me a fool, but I had never considered the idea that a machine could be so enthralling to watch. 


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Experience the history of gender and computing through the lens of computer playsets from the 1970’s to today.

On temporary exhibit is "Barbie Gets with the Program". It explores the way gender and technology interact, especially for children. It was interesting to see how the character of Barbie and the technology she uses change over time. Toward the end of the small exhibit space, there is some discussion of the current state of gender dynamics in the tech industry. They highlight the importance of representation and positive role models for younger generations of women coders. Girls Who Code and Black Girls Code are held up as examples of groups working to address the representation imbalance in computing.

The display in on view until September 3rd, 2017.


This blog post can't do justice to the new and improved Living Computer Museum. Be sure to devote more than an hour to exploring this wonderful space.

Resources:

I've reviewed this museum before! Check out my earlier post here

Living Computer Museum

Girls Who Code

Black Girls Code