In case you have not been reading LAIY lately or have no idea what MOCA is or don’t live in Los Angeles, you may be unfamiliar with the cultural and artistic phenomena that descended onto Los Angeles last night by way of the Beastie Boys’ Mike D: Transmission LA, an absolutely insane art show/event/happening that brought everyone and their friend and friend and other friend out to the MOCA Geffen Contemporary. It was a mess. It was dramatic. It was infuriating. It was beautiful. It was cool. It was exhausting. And, duh, it could only have happened in Los Angeles.
The event got started at 6PM, which is something we were totally aware of but–hey–we had to split our time that evening with the fantastic Graduation Show preview at Art Center. Thus, we ended up arriving at 8:30PM, an hour and a half before the event was supposed to end (which is exactly when it did end, them literally kicking everyone out and taking drinks away). Of course, parking was a bit of a problem so we swallowed our wallets and forked over a lot of money to some guy who was happily over charging people for parking. We power walked four blocks over to MOCA, expecting a crowd but were greeted with a mob. We brushed our shoulders like snobs, knowing we were on the VIP list but–you know what?–there were so many people mobbing the gates that the VIP entrance had dissolved and they were putting up barriers to keep all people out by order of the fire marshall. We were all dressed up with some place to be, within twenty feet of entry with lots of people cursing and feeling entitled and just wanting to see Santigold and/or get free booze. I was preparing to pull out my Vaseline and start snapping when the guards arrived with lists, patiently and impatiently letting people in who were on the list. Thankfully, we were on it.
After maybe twenty minutes of cooling down and meeting up with friends who were in from out of town for the show, we headed inside. We didn’t even try to get in on the Roy Choi action, we didn’t even try to see if there was anyone else we knew, and, shit, we didn’t even try to get a damn drink or listen to Santiwho sing a song: we just wanted to see the art. My ears were still burning and palms still wet from the Vaseline, but I started to calm as a result of all the bright, moving colors that had filled the space: it was like a carousel of animated art. It was a delight! My anger started to subside as I was (surprisingly) away from all the noise and people within the empty show, my frown turning upside down as a result of artists I love going batshit insane in the space.
The show has a little bit of everything, revolving around immersive, video and light pieces, most of which seek to transform space and how we see or perceive the space around us. It’s definitely somehow super bro-y, only one woman–Lauren Meckler–shown in the show. Anyway, the show is not about gender or sexuality but is about making you feel like audio and visual art play into each other and jump off of each other to make new art. Everything was top notch and awe inspiring but–you know–we have to pick a few favorites.
The one that everyone is going to talk about for years is the piece by Ben Jones which had viewers walk down a hallway of moving lines which spit them into a huge room where the walls and floor were moving as if you were at the center of a Jones animated race, a la Pole Position. It was an absolute trip and begged you to sit in there for twenty minutes, tripping out while *not* on drugs. A wise note, though: do your best not to look down at your phone while in there as the movement of the floor may make you want to hurl. You can catch a taste of the experience in the video above.
Other standouts for us was the piece by Ara Petersen and Jim Drain, which had them create a hallway of fan driven spinning wheels that made you feel like you were on the inside of a fantastic cartoon geared machine. It’s exactly what I imagine the gears of a contraption that makes lollipops would look like. This was another mesmerizing, immersive piece. Takeshi Murata, who has to be one of my all time favorite artists, had a few still pieces along with two videos, all of which had his trademark melty, acid feeling, which he turns into frosting and slathers atop of a pop culture cake. Be sure to catch his little video with Popeye in it, around the corner from his stills. The final standout was one that we can’t quite pinpoint the creator of but it involved a series of Price Is Right showcases being revealed atop of each other to a dizzying extent, to where the announcer’s saying “A NEW CAR!!” was truncated to “A NEWC A NEWC A NEWC.” At one point, a television in the background of a showcase shares the infamous Nazi face melt from Raiders Of The Lost Art and I literally applauded for five minutes and waited for it to appear again. Alas, it was just more and more cock teassing new cars.
The show was really similar to Suprasensorial from last year, which similarly transformed spaces and experiences by way of immersive work. That show is definitely my favorite thing I have ever seen at MOCA, this show coming in at a very close second, if not a tie. It’s one that I am dying to get back to see although the show only runs through May 6 with lots of musical events between now and then, which we’re assuming will be just as messy as last night.
It was great to see so many people out there, which we cannot be sure was entirely to see Santigold and see Mike D but totally felt like it. I mean, for pete’s sake everyone we’ve ever met from art and non-art environments was boasting being there: it was a scene that exceeded MOCA as an art happening and just became a cultural clusterfuck. We did get to see Jeremy Scott, who we asked to take a photo of as he was hopping into his tricked out Transmission LA Mercedes (a sponsor of the event) and he kindly obliged, posed, and was on his way. That guy: what a stylish silver sweetheart! Who knew?! He along with seeing Mike D was a big moment–but not as big as seeing Eric “Political Dreamboat” Garcetti in the gallery. I had a very similar moment seeing him that I had when seeing Sky Ferreira in the flesh: I clawed at Bobby, buried my face into his neck, and whisper yelled, “OH MY FUCKING GOD IT’S ERIC GARCETTI.” We of course had to say hello and that we are huge fans of his and already casting our future ballots for LA mayor in his name. He, of course, turned on his charm and political savvy, telling us, “Oh, when I’m mayor, we’ll have events like these every night!” We applauded, snapped his photo, and let him get back to visiting the men’s room, which we interrupted while looking at the Takeshi Muratas.
Transmission LA may have been a mess and may have been amazing and may only be open for two weeks–but it requires you to pay attention to it. It’s a uniquely Los Angeles cultural phenomena that was so cool and so crazy and so desired that it again clarified that, yes, something is happening in this city and we all need to start paying attention to it: Los Angeles is now the art and culture hub of America. Then again, we already knew that.