Absolute Tension


I recently spent a rainy Saturday at the New Museum on the Bowery in lower Manhattan. The New Museum is just a train ride across the Williamsburg bridge from me. Had it been a sunny day, I would have walked.


The New Museum is a Contemporary Art Museum showcasing global contemporary works.  Each floor features a different exhibit, peaking with city-spanning views from the Sky Room. The building, designed by Tokyo-based architects, stands-out quite dramatically on the Bowery, positioned as a fresh geometric force against the traditional brick buildings of New York.


Inside the floors feel clean, airy and spacious.  It may be one of the few museums in the city that feels comfortable mid-day on a Saturday.  You won’t find excited groups of tourists snapping photos at every piece in the room.  But, if you go soon, you will be able to contribute to the massive Whose Terms exhibit, which I found to be a fantastic rainy-day activity.


I was intrigued by the exhibit on the first floor, where I came across the phase, “absolute tension (perfect equilibrium)”.  It sounded like something I had learned in University, but I couldn’t remember what.  In Laure Prouvost’s, “For Forgetting” she explores memories and possessions.  I had to look up the meaning behind absolute tension, and it appears to be related to Buckminster Fuller’s theory on Vector Equilibrium, or synergetics.  Synergetics studies systems in transformation. I suppose the parallel Laure is trying to draw is between the constant motion of the body and the mind, and the constant transformation that we as humans endure. We somehow manage to achieve a steady-state equilibrium  that is the act of “living”, born of the absolute tension that is the essence of existence & life itself.