Using Google Daydream to Travel to Baku
Last week, I used my Google Daydream virtual reality headset for the first time. I had forgotten to visit the Amon Carter Museum of American Art and so I decided to fly back to Fort Worth (for free) using Daydream. This week, I decided to venture further afield and went to Baku, Azerbaijan to stop by the Heydar Aliyev Center designed by the late Zaha Hadid.
Zaha Hadid, the CAC, and a 21st Century Museum Hotel
Zaha’s work has been on my radar for a while. She was the winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004, an award that is considered the equivalent of a Nobel Prize for Architects. This year, thirteen years after winning the Pritzker, Zaha’s building in Baku was the subject of a Google doodle. I was first introduced to Zaha in Cincinnati, as one of the earliest buildings she designed was the Contemporary Art Center (CAC). This museum also happens to be one of my favorite places to purchase last minute Christmas presents when visiting my parents for the holidays. And right next door to the CAC is the 21st Century Museum Hotel with whimsical yellow penguins peering out the hotel’s front windows.
My Introduction to the Cracking Art Group (c/o Zaha Hadid in Baku)
Until yesterday, I had know idea that there was a group behind an art movement (with its own Wikipedia page even) that involves installing giant colored plastic animals in urban settings. Unbeknownst to me last December, the Cracking Art Group was the force behind my colorful penguin dinner date. And somehow I also missed an installation twelve years ago when I was living in Venice and got to attend my first Biennale.
But back to Baku. As I adjusted the headset and peered around, I noticed brightly colored snails and rabbits dotting the sloping fields surrounding the Heydar Aliyev Center. After a bit of tweeting, googling, and decoding Instagram hashtags, I became acquainted with the colorful work of the Cracking Art Group.
So I must say thank you Daydream for helping me connect the dots between Venice, Cincinnati, and Baku, and for formally introducing me to the Cracking Art Group via Zaha Hadid.