December 29th, 2008

Invisible Thoughts

At the MOMA the other day, I saw some amazing things. The exhibit I particularly wanted to see was about photography and the invisible. Diatoms! Snowflakes! X-rays of famous people! The exhibit closes on January 4, so hurry up and go see it for yourself.

The beauty and weirdness of the images made me happy right there in the museum (yes, the birth of a louse can look both beautiful and weird). But, even better, the exhibition has changed my brain. My thoughts want to find the hidden geometries. I find myself wondering about the armatures inside things.

And I realize that, for a technophobe, I have a deep interest in technology. Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley, whose work is featured in the show, developed a whole array of techniques to capture snowflakes. I have zero interest in what the techniques actually were, but lots in what makes a person so fascinated with a problem that he or she has to do whatever it takes to solve it. I like people who want to know what will happen if.

I’m also absorbed in the question of how different technology changes the thinking process. I have thought differently about rings and fingers since seeing the tsarina’s x-ray; the technological artifact has shifted my brainwaves. It’s not that different than my usual musings about the different ways I think when I’m holding a pen and when I’m tapping keys. In other words, how something is done is both totally irrelevant and deeply important.

I love that stuff.