Please do not touch the work of art

PLEASE. DO NOT TOUCH THE WORK OF ART
TOUCH. DO NOT PLEASE THE WORK OF ART
WORK. DO NOT PLEASE THE ART OF TOUCH
PLEASE THE ART OF TOUCH. DO NOT WORK
TOUCH THE ART OF WORK. DO NOT PLEASE
PLEASE WORK NOT. DO TOUCH OF THE ART
DO THE ART OF TOUCH PLEASE. WORK NOT
DO NOT TOUCH THE ART OF WORK. PLEASE
PLEASE DO WORK. TOUCH NOT OF THE ART

In the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, in the interactive installation section this is what it said.

In one of the dark rooms, several vintage microphones were standing in a circle, under a spotlight. People were invited to speak in the microphone. Their voices would be recorded, and played all through the exhibit, along with all the other recorded voices. It’s hard not to be shy under a spotlight. Even if there is nobody around. You know that your voice is going to get recorded, and played – there is no going back once you speak in that microphone! You know that if you talk, your voice will resound in this dark room, and people that you don’t know will hear you – and laugh.

This is what these microphones in the dark were standing for: ‘Come on you listeners!’, they silently said, ‘break through to the other side, and produce sound instead of just listening – maybe if we put all of your voices together something will come out of it, PLEASE THE ART OF TOUCH, TOUCH THE ART OF WORK, DO THE ART OF TOUCH PLEASE – you can do it!’
But people were shy. Looking studiously at the vintage microphones as if there was something to see, pretending to try and read the brand names, staring at the black cables as if there was something glorious about them, while, in fact, secretly hesitating ‘should I speak? What should I say?’.

Studiously, they walked in circles around the circle of light and of vintage microphones. The brave ones would tap on the microphone, make little sounds that were recorded and played on and on for people to hear (tap… tap… taptaptap) – not too noisy, not a real performance, not a statement – just to try it out. Just a little bit. Just to see how you sound. As if there was something to learn. But all the microphones were saying was ‘play!’, TOUCH, DO NOT WORK, PLEASE WORK NOT, WORK NOT. It isn’t a matter of creating (after all, not everybody is meant to be an artist), but of experiencing this position. The position of the person who creates and exhibits her work for the world to see – not an easy one for that matter! So, since everybody knows you are no artist, but a mere listener, potential contributor, there are no expectations! Don’t be shy! Do not be afraid of being judged, do not try to be liked for what you will be voicing in that vintage microphone, DO NOT PLEASE, DO NOT PLEASE THE WORK OF ART, just play.

In this dark room, with just a circle of light in the middle, and beautiful shiny vintage microphones, pitiful laughable ‘hello?… aaaa…. trying trying…. ooooo…. hahaha… tap tap taptap’ resounded.
No, sadly not everyone is meant to be an artist or a performer (DO NOT TOUCH THE WORK OF ART), but some of us have a great time just knowing that in one dark room of the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, for a little while, we can pretend.

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