God bless Coco Fusco for making sure that her students genuinely get whatever she's explaining in a given class. In the case of the special class we had this Sunday, she was attempting to explain the meaning of "simulation," and specifically how something is experienced asa simulation when you become unaware of its "frame." For instance, she said, the development of the visual interface for computers in the early '80s was an important example: it's not an actual desktop, you're not actually cutting and pasting, it's not an actual trash can. Half a dozen or so of the younger students in the class objected: what do you mean it's not? Command-X, you cut, command-V, you paste, that's what you do! Eventually she got through to them, by physically picking something up, carrying it over to a trash can, and depositing it...

Lisa and I spent the better part of the weekend in North Adams, MA, whose locals (well, Tara Needham, with whom we had dinner) pronounce it with the accent on "North." I find this a little weird--one doesn't say EASTlansing. But Northeasterners, I suppose, are allowed to do what they please. In any case, North Adams is home to MASS MoCA, allegedly the country's largest contemporary art museum, which we visited. It's a very pretty facility with no native collection of its own (unless you count the J. Otto wallpaper with hand alterations that covers one hallway). The art that's actually in it at the moment includes a major display of work by contemporary Austrian artists, most of which is really weak (though I did like the "Fat Car"--a car overlaid with bulging, sagging pink plastic)--there's a Joseph Beuys in one room that overwhelms all the new stuff for a significant radius. I sort of liked another installation, Robert Wilson's enormous "Fourteen Stations" (inspired by the Stations of the Cross), but also found parts of it excessively slick and obvious: the Madonna represented by a projection of Madonna, okay fine I get it.

Even so: nice building! And we stayed at an even better one across the street: The Porches, a hotel/b&b converted from mill worker housing. Heavily design-oriented rooms, each uniquely decorated (ours had some unidentified 19th-century photographs, some handmade-looking plates, and a paint-by-numbers Mona Lisa), and everything a few notches nicer than it really has to be, and entirely devoid of the b&b excess that Lisa calls "ducks with bows." (Actually, the enormous ceiling-mounted shower head was many notches nicer than it really had to be.)



previously ask for advice