As much as I appreciate and enjoy art, there are times when I walk perfunctorily through a museum or exhibit and leave without having had any new thoughts, feelings, or inspiration. Perhaps this is due more to laziness on my part than anything else. However, there are other times when I leave a museum having been touched by a piece or an exhibit and carry it with me long afterward. One such installation is Mineko Grimmer’s Remembering Plato, which I saw at the Menil Collection in Houston either in late 2001 or early 2002.

Two upside-down cones of ice, embedded with small stones and pebbles, hung above two wooden boxes full of water. One box had a piano string pulled across the top of it, and the other box had a brass bar that ran across its top. As the ice melted, every minute or so a pebble would drop into the water below. Lights inside the box were angled so that shadows of the water were projected on the wall next to the box; the gently moving water rippled across the wall, and you could see the disturbance when a new pebble entered the water. Occasionally, a pebble would strike the piano string or brass bar, creating a plunky sound that reverberated throughout the darkened room. (There was an unspoken understanding among everyone who entered the room that it should remain quiet.) The installation was a relatively simple, low-tech setup, and yet I cannot think of another piece of art that has ever created such a distinct sense of space for me. It seemed as though even the rules of time were being bent as I sat on a wooden bench next to the installation.

Remembering Plato

Remembering Plato

Below is a video taken of Grimmer’s installation The Dialogue.