Steam blew out of my mouth and fogged my glasses against the backdrop of the night sky. Rubber-and-leather-clad feet crunched on gravel, echoing against the whip of flags in the wind, the sirens, the thrum of jet engines. Even with the ghostly pencil of stone carving a swath between a crescent moon and two planets, I sighed. The National Mall on a windy night wasn’t my idea of a fun slog after a zig-zagging day of work, dashing from place to place to place around the District.
Strains of music drifted over the cacophony of urban noise. The reason we came. MTM had a meeting at the National Endowment for the Arts on Wednesday, directing the mission of our dark perambulations. We came to see the thing someone there deemed “expletive-deleted (rhymes with mucking) amazing.”
Song 1 by Doug Aitken at the Hirshhorn Museum. A circular building turned into a cyclorama canvas of throbbing loneliness and pulsing sound, threading all the way around the building in a seamless story told in the strains of a few bars of the same song. Forty minutes of “I Only Have Eyes For You.”
Yeah. I know. I thought it would suck, too.
But, as I picked my way through a plot of pansies to sit on a pebble-encrusted wall, I forgot to blow heat onto my chilly hands. I didn’t remember to fidget because my perch was uncomfortable. Craning my neck didn’t feel unnatural. As a stereo of abandoned strains twirled in front of me, I soaked in the light of the moon, the beams of Jupiter and Venus, the strobing beat of the projected story………
And, I wanted to dance. To the various interpretations of the same thing. Set to the music of the mechanical thrum of a factory. The heat of rush hour traffic. The flinty strike of a match. Tilda Swinton in silk pajamas, scrolling dizzily around the darkened disc. Our feet made time to the beat overhead as we joined the song.
In the garden.
Along a crowded avenue.
Under the crescent moon.
Where millions of people have gone by.