Out of Touch

The invite for the launch of the design journal Untapped’s inaugural print issue mentioned a theremin performance, which was reason enough to be intrigued. When I arrived, I found copies of the journal perched on a library cart at the center of Marta, a gallery near the Los Angeles River. They unfolded like flowers, revealing, among other things, a profile of the gallerists. Marta was also playing host that evening to an exhibition of stark, beige furniture pieces called No Life. The chairs and bed, softer than they looked, were convincing enough as “furniture” that they attracted the attentions of bored children; one of the tables became a repository for discarded paper and empty wineglasses.

Those who’d brought dogs were asked to remove them: It was theremin time. The performer, Armen Ra, looked as otherworldly as his device—chrome eyelids, a sculptural neckline, excellent posture. He descended the staircase with the precise and measured timing of someone accustomed to being the center of attention and played Puccini’s O mio babbino caro. One hand mimed a vibrato, …

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