Editorial: Are We There Yet?


Over at boingboing.net David Pescovitz had a post about a new art installation, Are We There Yet?, at the San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum. The installation is a complex, technically savvy, provocative, and beautifully simple.

The installation’s press release provides a basic overview:

As they enter, visitors encounter a voice asking a question such as: “Can we talk?” After a pause, other questions emerge: “Do you love me?” or “Is that all there is?” As visitors move farther into the space, the questions become increasingly contemplative. “How big is the step between believing and knowing?” or “If not now, when?” The questions begin to take on new contexts and meanings. Visitors realize that they create their own experiences as they move through space.

“Each visitor discovers his or her own path—how you experience the questions is up to you—the process of exploration is what defines identity for Jews and non-Jews,” says Gershoni.
The ability of the installation to generate a unique auditory experience for each visitor is an exciting first, using new robotic algorithms and software that allow cameras to instantly adapt and spatialize audio to the movements of each visitor. Goldberg and Gershoni are working with a high-tech team that includes Perrin Meyer of Meyer Sound, the renowned Emeryville-based company that designed the sound for the Beijing Olympics and Cirque du Soleil.


“The experience is like the title,” says Goldberg. “It can be funny or philosophical. Gil and I want visitors to consider their own questions about what is and what is not being questioned.”

By now, I’m sure you are wondering, “What does this have to do with M.U.S.C.L.E. toys?”

In my opinion, it has everything to do with M.U.S.C.L.E. toys. M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors have always expressed their love and appreciate of M.U.S.C.L.E. figures through various artistic endeavors. However, over the last few months, there seems to be a dramatic increase in the number of artists creating incredibly high quality M.U.S.C.L.E.-inspired figures.

There are many ways to critique art. One of the most simple, and purely intrinsic ways, is whether the art “speaks to you.” It is as if the piece of art understands you, shares your feelings, or maybe it forces you to feel a specific emotion. The most recent M.U.S.C.L.E.-inspired art seems to be speaking to a lot of collectors.

But the art is one piece of why the “Are We There Yet?” installation is M.U.S.C.L.E. related. Throughout the evolution of the M.U.S.C.L.E. community the greatest advancements and developments have happened through questioning – not accumulation. Collectors have asked:

“What is the X-1?”
“What is the X-2?”
“Is it rare?”
“How were they made?”
“How can we use this information?”
“What is the future of M.U.S.C.L.E.?”

The list could go on and on. But just like the community has evolved, so have collectors. It is not uncommon to hear collectors question why they are collecting. The University of M.U.S.C.L.E. has also posted several links and articles related to collecting behaviors.

It is this combination of art and questioning that speaks to me. It is this combination that links the installation to M.U.S.C.L.E. toys.

I found the installation’s progression of questions incredibly similar to the progression of M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors’ questions. Collectors start with something basic, “Do you have a Flesh #230?”

“Does anyone have a sealed 10-pack?”

“What should I collect next?”

“What do I do when my collection is complete?”

“Is it ok to do that?”

“Why do I collect?”

And keep working towards something like, “Why is it fun?”

Perhaps like the installation, there each reader will take away a different message from this write-up. I know that I wish that I was going to be in San Francisco sometime between March 31, 2011 and July 31, 2011. I also believe that if M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors asked more questions and approached the hobby in a more synergistic fashion, then the hobby would grow, thrive, and probably solve even more M.U.S.C.L.E. mysteries.

Is that all there is?

  1. #1 by halfbad on March 28, 2011 - 5:18 pm

    Well done. Something to really chew on, and it can apply to collecting in general.

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