- - Thursday, April 5, 2012

Pick of the pack

Exhibit: Elevator to the Moon: Retro-Future Visions of Space

Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969 with technology that was less sophisticated than what you’ll find in a modern-day consumer pickup truck. Is it any wonder, then, that midcentury Americans imagined we’d have jet packs and meals in a pill by the year 2000? Until now, the predictions from imaginative mid-20th-century writers and scientists have provided a wealth of fodder for retro-futurist historians. But visual artists are now getting in on the game, as you can see in Artisphere’s “Elevator to the Moon: Retro-Future Visions of Space,” in which 15 artists have taken the predictions of the past — schematics, drawings and literary descriptions of a year 2000 in which humans can take an elevator to the moon — and renewed them for the future. After all, our predecessors weren’t necessarily wrong about what we’d have — today’s communications technology surpasses that on “Star Trek” — they were just wrong about when we’d have it.

To June 9 at Artisphere, 1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va.

Phone: 703/875-1100

Web: http://artisphere.com

Exhibit: The Art of Video Games

In April 2010, film critic Roger Ebert claimed on his blog, “No one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a video game worthy of comparison with the great poets, filmmakers, novelists and poets.” His post garnered almost 5,000 comments — roughly 300 of them supportive, the rest rebukes. A few months later, Mr. Ebert conceded his position. “I had to be prepared to agree that gamers can have an experience that, for them, is art.” The Smithsonian American Art Museum has taken a far more progressive stance in “The Art of Video Games,” which the museum is promoting as “one of the first exhibitions to explore the 40-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium.” It tapped Chris Melissinos, a game designer and collector, to curate the exhibit, and invited gamers to vote on what games to showcase. The museum even went so far as to pre-emptively respond to philistines like Mr. Ebert. “All video games include classic components of art — striking visuals, a powerful narrative and a strong point of view,” the Smithsonian wrote for a FAQ. “What’s new is the role of the player.”

To Sept. 30 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 1661 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

Phone: 202/633-1000

Web: americanart.si.edu/renwick

Concert: Nada Surf

In 1995, Nada Surf released a down-tempo minor-key anthem called “Popular.” The song begins with a few rules for breaking up and concludes with the repetition of the words, “I’m popular.” A few years later, the band ended up living their own song by breaking up with their major labor and then riding the wave of popularity as independent rockers. Nada Surf hasn’t released anything quite as popular as “Popular” in the past decade and a half, but it has proven wrong Elektra Records, which doubted the band’s ability to create another hit and instead asked them to record covers. Nada Surf may not be a radio darling anymore, but that says more about the increasingly crummy tastes of the FM spectrum than it does about the quality of the band’s recent output: moody, thoughtful pop-rock that inspires equal amounts of pining and movement.

April 10 at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW

Phone: 202/265-0930

Web: http://www.930.com

Outdoors: Yoga on the Mall

Don’t let the New York Times’ expose on yoga injuries scare you away from the practice, especially not with the annual Cherry Blossom Festival Yoga extravaganza approaching. The event sees thousands of yoga practitioners flock to the Mall for a mass relaxation. This year’s gathering will be extra special, owing to the organizers having commissioned Bluebrain to design a soundtrack. The group attached a heart-rate monitor to instructor Alison Adams and had her go through the routine she’ll lead on Saturday. According to the band’s blog, the “data is then used as a tempo map for the hourlong session that, ideally, will rise and fall generally in connection with what Alison is doing on stage, even integrating the sound of the heartbeat at various different speeds at different points.” That’s worth watching, even if you don’t go in for yoga.

April 7 at the Sylvan Theater stage, the National Mall

Web: http://bluebrainmusic.blogspot.com

For kids: Paper Airplane Day

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven,” go the ancient words of wisdom. Take paper airplanes, for example. The classroom is probably not the best place, nor time for them. But Paper Airplane Day at the College Park Aviation Museum? Definitely. The paper airplane derby is open to all ages and experience levels. Prizes will be awarded for most successful flight.

April 6 at the College Park Aviation Museum, 1985 Cpl. Frank Scott Drive, College Park, Md.

Phone: 301/864-6029

Web: http://www.collegeparkaviationmuseum.com