Open the doors to the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA)’s Great Hall and you are enveloped in near-total darkness: a wide tunnel-like walkway with a pulsating color show glimmering on a screen at the opposite end. It’s a little daunting, this darkness, but then you notice the soft hum of ambient sound filling the space, a meditative force propelling you forward. So you walk to the end of the hall and round the corner.
In the next room lives “the creature” — a massive, bubbly cluster of inflated globes and cylinders, filling the darkened room with changing technicolor lights radiating into the sculpture’s extended nubs and limbs. It’s like a massive conglomeration of melted gumdrops; every color is visible at once and each hue slowly slips into the next, creating a pulsating rainbow that’s somehow both exhilarating and oh-so-calming.
This is “Nature’s Gift: Humans, Friends and the Unknown,” a 55-foot-long mass of blown-up nylon tubes, all illuminated from within by an LED light system, brought to you by Los Angeles–based artists Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval, who together make up the collaborative FriendsWithYou, known for their large-scale interactive soft-sculpture and public-art installations.