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  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 4, No. 2, 2005
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Robert J. Lewis
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by Steven Holt and Mara Skov

* * * * * *

SJMA is the leading institution dedicated to visual culture in Silicon Valley. It is a community anchor, ensuring artistic excellence and access for an extraordinarily diverse populace. It is a contemporary art center whose acclaimed exhibitions have ranged across modern masterworks to the newest frontiers of art. It is a cultural crossroads, more than doubling its attendance since instituting a free admission policy. It is the largest visual arts education provider in Santa Clara County. It is a source of inspiration, contemplation, and delight for a fast-moving community. It is a museum of the future.



Marcel Wanders of Marcel Wanders Studio, Amsterdam, Netherlands Airborne Snotty Vases (Influenza, Coryza, Pollinosis, Ozaena and Sinusitis) 2001. Manufactured by Wanders, Amsterdam, Netherlands Courtesy of Limn, San Francisco.

The San Jose Museum of Art's upcoming exhibition, Blobjects & Beyond: The New Fluidity in Design, which runs from March 6, 2005 through July 10, 2005, underscores the idea that contemporary art and design not only influence and inform each other, but often belong together in the same exhibition space. The exhibition presents a ground-breaking interdisciplinary look at the phenomenon of fluid forms, chosen from a rich range of products, furniture, graphics, media and architectural works from across the globe

Marc Newson, Lockheed Lounge, 1986-1988.
Riveted sheet aluminium over fiberglass, rubber; 25 x 35 x 60 in. Collection of Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh.

The story of blobjects (blobby objects) is the story of how change happens in the broadest sense, and how an idea or form reaches its natural tipping point. This idea of change is embodied by the blobjects of the exhibition, which represent a critical cultural phenomenon, a movement. They serve as the ideal visual representation of our increasingly fluid and changing culture. Ultimately, the blobject is a master metaphor for this generation - the first psychologically and visually compelling answer to the question, "How do biology, technology, culture, and emotion come together?"

Andreu Osika, Duane Smith of Vessel, Candeloo, 2003.
Polycarbonate exterior; 2½ x 6½ in. Courtesy of Vessel

The ubiquity of fluid forms in art and design is the surest sign yet that blobjects represent more than just a passing stylistic fancy. If we dismiss the blobject phenomenon as just another style, if we fail to revel in the delicious fecundity of contemporary blobjects, if we ignore the lessons of their infinite approachability and refuse to embrace the change they represent, then we do so out of a deep denial of the hope and optimism they offer, and we do so ultimately at out own collective peril.

Cory Ness,Curvaceousness (Motorcycle): 1999.
Hand-built aluminium body, custom machine billet parts, high-gloss, hand-rubbed parts; 2½ x 9½ x 2 ft; Collection of Arlen Ness.


The San Jose Museum of Art is located at 110 South Market Street, San Jose, CA 95133, 408-271-6881. For more information on the exhibition and lecture, visit

Excerpt from exhibition catalogue, Blobjects & Beyond: The New Fluidity in Design, published by Chronicle Books and co-authored by guest curators Steven Skov Holt and Mara Holt Skov. Available in SJMA museum store.

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