Even if you've been to the Spencer Museum of Art before, you've never seen it quite like this.
Artists Maria Velasco and Janet Davidson-Hues have created a playful "way-finding" system for the museum called "Stop // Look // Listen." It starts in the parking lot with bright yellow traffic signs and spills into the museum in the form of mp3 audio tours that offer offbeat looks at certain pieces in the collection, encouraging visitors to slow down and experience them anew.
"Our hope is that the viewer/listener will participate in the variety of content, be provoked by the playfulness of both the signs and the audio, and perhaps experience a new way of looking at art that they've looked at before but never really seen," Davidson-Hues says. "Hopefully expectations will be thwarted and replaced with enlightenment, and there will be a renewed vitality in the museum experience."
Commissioned by the museum, 1301 Miss., the installation will debut at a public reception from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Visitors can download the audio and synch the tours to their own mp3 players at www.spencerart.ku.edu, or borrow a player from the museum.
The signs continue inside the museum, denoting stops on the tour with iconographic black images inspired by the artworks. Creating the audio was a bit like making a collage, Davidson-Hues says.
"It started by researching the artists and the particular pieces, writing the scripts for each piece, inviting people to read (the voices), recording, editing the many tracks, adding sounds, music, effects, piecing it all together, and layering it until it worked as a whole," she says.
The tour eschews the traditional, historical information found on typical museum labels, instead offering mischievous, insightful or ambiguous comments, and unanticipated words and sounds, contributed by a variety of voices.
"It adds dimension," Velasco says, "and hopefully makes it enjoyable, fun and intriguing."