Lasers Make Everything Better: Crime in Choir at the MOMA

Categories: Last Night


(Anthony McCall's "You and I, Horizontal III")

Crime in Choir
September 13, 2007
SF MOMA
Better Than:
Being stoned for Laser Floyd at your local planetarium

When my friends ask about my favorite shows I’ve seen all year, it’s usually tough to come up with just one answer. Daft Punk robot-rockin’ it in a glowing pyramid at the Greek? Pretty sweet. Devendra Banhart and his band of Spiritual Boners ticking the hippies into dancing in their seats at the Palace of Fine Arts? Beautiful. But really the stuff that sticks in the noggin most often are the shows that simply can’t be replicated elsewhere. There’s something exciting about a band taking you to a venue rarely used for entertainment, and then blowing your eyeballs to bits with space-age visuals to boot.

Two songs into Crime in Choir’s show at the MOMA last night, my friend Jon leaned over and whispered, “This feels like we’re in the future,” and I realized this was definitely becoming one of my favorite shows for ‘07.

We were seated in the museum’s screening room, as the local instrumental prog act was filling our ears with awesome inklings of Pink Floyd. Meanwhile, New York-based artist Anthony McCall had set up two projectors on the stage, and filled the air around the projectors with a light fog, so the machines cast fantastic cones of light across the crowd. It definitely made things feel either very 22nd Century, or very late-‘60s psychedelic, both in the dense instrumental noodling from the band and in the white beams artfully pulsing against audience silhouettes.

The night began with a movie McCall made in the early ‘70s, a cool film where dudes in white suits set controlled fires in the grass at dusk, while a fog-horn device went off at various intervals. It looked like the opening to some kind of Wicker Man pagan craziness, and set the stage for Crime and McCall’s audio-visual opus. From there it was all about escaping with the very open-minded and the very stoned. Luckily both personality types were in attendance that night, as this was also a MOMA party for college kids (free beer!). Here’s hoping the MOMA continues merging the high brow art world with smarty-pants local rockers -- especially if the deal involves pulsing beams of light.

Download: Crime in Choir's MySpace page

Critic’s Notebook

Personal Bias: I put on a couple laser light shows at the local planetarium when I lived in Seattle. Bands like Jennifer Gentle and Grizzly Bear got their space rock on while crowds lay on the ground and watched colored beams shoot overhead. It ruled. I think more bands should play with special lights and lasers.

By The Way: The event was meant to mark McCall’s piece currently on display at the MOMA, "You and I, Horizontal" – which the artist explained in complicated terms and drawings in the beginning of the night, and which I will describe in less complicated terms as a white film beamed into a dark room that changes as people walk through it. It's pretty damn cool. Check out that piece and the new work by Olafur Eliasson, an interactive Icelandic artist who redesigned the whole top floor of the MOMA with his natural and kaleidoscopic visions. – Jennifer Maerz


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