Cultural Transcendence

Vanessa realized that her brain had made the next fold--that she, in some definite and origamilike way, represented the next evolutionary step of Homo sapiens--Homo transcendens--and that her goal in life was to seek out fellow Homo transcendens...from the novel "Miss Wyoming" by Douglas Coupland

I just stayed up very late reading "Miss Wyoming" a novel by Vancouver author, Doug Coupland.  Then I woke up and read until I finished the book.  I love his gritty way of telling a story that alternates between cynicism and heartswelling emotion.  He's one of the only contemporary authors I've read who really does seem to tap into the timeless despite all his references to t.v. and plastic and cheap sex.

Why am I sharing this?  I guess it's a segway into talking about a stunning art show at the Wing Luke Asian Art Museum entitled "Cultural Transcendence."  I've tried to talk all my friends into going--it's that good.  The good news is that the show ends in June so there is still time to check it out.  It's tucked away upstairs across from a historical exhibit about Asian refugees in Washington State.  (My friend Elizabeth happened to enter that exhibit by mistake and emerged wondering why I thought it was so transcendent.)

"Cultural Transcendence" is a group show of emerging digital artists of Asian descent from across the United States.  The work is seamless, truly moving beyond an infatuation with technology into a deeply poetic space.  There are two pieces that continue to haunt me.  One is "Transplant," a black and white projection onto a bell jar and the wall.  The film blends documentary imagery with surprising color insertions.  It's impossible to explain--you just have to experience it.  The other piece is a floor-to-ceiling screen made of yellow rose petals.  Closeups of faces are projected onto this veil.  Some faces have their eyes open, some have them closed.  They cross dissolve from one face to the next, old faces and young, while a mesmerizing chant draws one into a meditative state.  I emerged from this show feeling cleansed, like all the windows in my mind had been opened and light had poured in.

"Lost and Found" by Horatio Law, at the Wing Luke Museum