The summer slowdown is real.
Oh, August. A sultry pot of slow orange sunsets mixed with sharp and bright early sunrises that pierce through the cracks along the edges bedroom curtains. Your mind begging, with all of its might, for just 2 more minutes. 120 seconds of silence before the noise of the world drowns you in its commotion. The buzzing of the electric toothbrush, and the pollution of human tendencies like traffic and social media. Tendencies that echo mindlessly and reverberate endlessly. 16 more hours of static—white noise—nothingness, until it’s time to rest and start over once again.
I read something last month about how Instagram's facade of the perfect life has made us lose our empathy and it really struck a chord with me. In all honesty, it probably has a large part to do with the intentional slowdown I've taken in the social media landscape. On the blog forefront, however, it wasn't as intentional — this was perhaps more due to a desire to live in the moment and to utilize our time for the present, rather than to reflect. Sorry. I chose to procrastinate. I chose to step away for want of a more real, validated interaction rather than one superficially dissociated and only loosely intermingled with strangers or acquaintances.
I'd found myself wrapped up in the expectation of creating something daily... but for what? And more importantly, for who? It was no longer for myself—and that's what needed to change. So I stopped. And now it's time to refresh and start over again. No more noise, no more nothingness. Only meaningful and intentional. Not just creating to create, but doing so only if there is true motivation, and doing so only for myself.
As we pushed fast forward through the month of July, I realized the hot muggy summer months were never my favorite, really. I find myself yearning for the crisp fall leaves, especially with these heat waves rolling in one after another. Long, stuffy days no longer appeal to me, and to be frank, we haven't really ventured too far outside of work and our home since our last blog post... until we wandered into Wonderspaces. So as I pull the pages off my Stendig and internally rejoice as Halloween and Christmas creep closer, here's a peek into this awesome space that's arrived annually to bless our eyes (and feeds) with neon lights and interactive art displays.
It was the last day of Comic-Con. We were anticipating a busy and bustling Sunday afternoon downtown—filled with tourists from both near and far. I inadvertently booked our tickets without realizing we had scheduled it on the same weekend as this internationally renowned event, but luckily I chose the earliest time slot available so that we could also beat the afternoon crowds that would slowly awaken from their Saturday night slumber. Just as I had hoped, parking was still ample along the Embarcadero early in the morning and after hopping around between a few parking lots, we were able to score a spot right up front on the pier for just $2.50 per hour.
Even though we booked our tickets for the first time slot of the day, the entrance was super crowded by the time we stepped up after paying our meter already. There were SOLD OUT signs posted everywhere, and after we each checked in on their iPads, we were emailed digital programs which I thought was genius. Paper programs tend to waste paper and end up in the trash anyway, and since everyone's already on their phones I thought this was a great step to reduce waste.
The first exhibit we stepped into was one with live electric wires that buzzed to a beat. We were the only people in that exhibit the entire time and really got to take a few solid minutes to just enjoy the darkness and the buzz of the electricity to ourselves.
Our second (and most favorite) exhibit was Squidsoup. It featured a huge array of round light strings, suspended from the ceiling to resemble a 3-dimensional cube. I read that each ball of light had it's own IP address, and because they were each programmed to change color with the music, the patterns they displayed in the 3D space was pretty spectacular when you were able to stand and walk through the feature. Imagine this thing installed at a music festival (?!)
We went back to this art installation twice, and unfortunately it got more crowded as time went on. It was still amazing, though, and were just thankful enough to experience the whole display from start to finish to see the whole light sequence as it was intended.
There were, however, were some small children sprinting through and running into people part of the time, and unfortunately their parents did little to control their kids until staff had to step in to say something. Their running caused some disturbance between the hanging light wires and messed up the visual display at certain points, so if anyone plans on bringing their kids (which is totally welcome!), just be mindful of others trying to enjoy a genuine experience as the artist intended it as well.
Click here to see our short video if you want to see the lights in action — pictures just don't do them justice!
Next up were a few random exhibits. One was a room with magnetic walls that "breathed" stainless steel wool. We didn't dabble much in it though since we couldn't see it move much.
The next exhibit was a huge inflatable structure made entirely of what looked like plastic bags from Asia. The thought of breathing in plastic bag air instantly brought flashbacks of yellow and tan grocery bags from Lucky Seafood and 79 Supermarket (my fellow Asian supermarket-frequenters may empathize) and the nasty headache-inducing smell that wafts from just waving one through the air in an attempt to open one of those suckers up while your other hand is full holding some kind of vegetable or fruit.
I wasn't down for a headache, and we didn't feel like leaving all of our shoes and belongings in the open cubbies outside of the balloon since we had our cameras and gear with us. We were able to capture a decent view from the outside, however. So here's the giant plastic Asian bag dragon:
Next up - plants you can touch! And every time we touched them, they made a magical sound. Bells, whistles, chirps. The plants were hanging from planters suspended from the ceiling, and somehow they knew when you would poke or prod their leaves or stems. They looked a bit tattered and some had spider webs, but this exhibit was still pretty nifty.
There were also some balloons, some filled with helium and others filled with air, tied together and strung at length against each other. In some ways I feel like these balloons somehow symbolized the dynamic between Jason and I. Me—my head and hopes in the air—and him—his feet always planted sturdily on the ground and in reality. But maybe thats's why we "work" so well together, always in an intricate balance... just like these balloons.
Maybe my other favorite exhibit (and one I wish we could've spent more time in, but didn't to give others some alone time in the space) was Hoshi by Nonotak. Ever wanted to feel like you were in a music video? This is your chance. Mirrors and long flashing LED's surround you as whooshing sound effects buzz around you.
I looked up this artist's other works and I honestly wish we could see them all. Our time in this piece was too short-lived, and getting the space to yourself was just too difficult. If only! Get your video time in quickly, since pictures proved more troublesome to grab with other people surrounding you in every single reflection.
Other exhibits that included paper was a giant TO DO list made of post-it notes. While we didn't contribute any of our own (the germophobe in me just didn't want to think about commingling with the giant bucket of pens and the idea of all the hands thats been on them seemed outright frightening)... it was great skimming through them. The most notable one was an edit I found where someone crossed out some words to make them about dogs 😂
There was also a funky construction paper tropical land that literally made me feel nothing but guilt for not utilizing my Cricut machine to this extent. It was somewhat reminiscent of something you'd find in a Dr. Seuss book, but interesting and intricate nonetheless.
In the main hallway, you'll also find a levigating display that features the use of balls that balance themselves through a delicate release of air pressure.. and when people block that passage of air by standing in front of the pipes (and not touching the display, as the sign reads), the balls "magically" levigate up their tubes. It was pretty easy to figure out how the balls worked just by noticing small details in the structures and thinking about how the presence of something could possibly cause something to move upwards, but it was neat anyways.
There were a few more electronic exhibits. One of the trippiest exhibits featured a huge room made entirely of continuous projections—each one just slightly different from the other but somehow also linked. It took viewers down a never-ending hallway and was a little creepy to say the least.
There was a also stage setup that reminded us of EDC's in years past... and another that projected colors onto a big screen that allowed us to paint with our body. Super cool.
And just before departing, we spent a little more time in Squidsoup to stare at the light display a little more. Loved that thing.
Our appetites were definitely worked up after wandering around Wonderspaces, and since we still had plenty of time left on our meter, we thought we'd make the best of our time down on the Embarcadero (since we're never down there) and had lunch at Carnitas Snack Shack outdoors that day. The weather was pretty perfect - it was sunny and warm, but the breeze thankfully cooled us down and it was great. The wind made it a little difficult to stuff our faces in our greasy sandwiches, but there really is nothing like a cold beer to wash down a BLT on a warm sunny day along the marina. We were playing tourist and it was great!
After finishing our meal, we walked around the Broadway Pier and sat along the end of the pier to watch the boats go by and to soak up a little vitamin D. The breeze, as I mentioned, was a lifesaver. Without it, I'm pretty sure we would've been burnt toast.
Overall, we really enjoyed Wonderspaces this year. We never made it out to the show last year when it was in Mission Valley, but are actually really happy they decided to hold the show on the pier in Embarcadero this year. Despite going on the busiest weekend of the summer, we still managed to sneak in at probably some of the least crowded times so it wasn't bad. If you're thinking about going, just do it. It was time well spent, and was a lot more interesting than some of the other museums we'd been to recently - the interaction is pretty neat and because you're already downtown near the waterfront, you're bound to have something to do afterwards as well. Definitely recommend!