Size matters

I’m down in D.C., having come down for the inauguration, and today, I decided to zip into the Smithsonian Hirschorn Museum. Got to see Ron Mueck’s “Untitled (Big Man)”, which, I gotta say, is really something up close.

I’ve seen plenty of photos of Mueck’s work, and up close the technical proficiency is on full display: The wrinkles and folds of skin, the liver spots, the hairs. But what really nails it is the obvious: That man sure is big.

In the past, I suppose I had somewhat dismissed Mueck’s work. Sure, from the photos you could tell his sculptures were uncanny imitations, but I think I had felt that just making something lifelike and big was a bit of a parlor trick. But when I stood in front of this massive, lifelike body, and relaxed my gaze on it, the effect was just so damned disorienting. You’re not supposed to see human bodies this big, but that’s what I was looking at. My gaze kept on slipping in and out of focus, as if my depth perception had been suddenly crippled. I can’t quite explain why that qualifies as more than a parlor trick, but there you have it.

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