Tom Vanderbilt is the author of “Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What it Says About Us,” an entertaining and insightful look about the psychology of what happens when we get behind the wheel.
His latest book is “You May Also Like: Taste In an Age of Endless Choice” (Knopf) an assaying of why we like what we like.
The topics he covers range from what we wear to work to what we name out pets and what beers we seek out. He’s particularly adept at discussing how these decisions work amid the constant digital barrage of “stars,” “thumbs-up,” and “likes,” that unwittingly dictate our choices.
In a section on “the ecstasies and anxieties of art,” he suggests one of the functions of a museum an one of the reasons we visit them is not just to look at things that have been recognized as art, but to really see what they are.
For the average viewer, the amount of time spent in front of any given work of art in a museum is a mere seventeen seconds. Then, there is the fact that you are in a crowd looking at what you’re looking at, most of whom are busily pre-occupied listening to the canned audio text on their acoustic-guides.
Do these crowds pull us into works of art or drive us away and why does the museum experience seem to exhaust so many of us, a phenomenon that has been called “museum legs.”
Put these thoughts together with considerations of why winning a book award makes its Amazon ratings decrease, why we tend to eat the same breakfast everyday, why folks tend to prefer music from a certain earlier period of their lives and why so many people prefer the color blue, and you end up merrily swimming through a sea of factoids illuminating what shapes and determines our opinions.
The Churchill Arts Council’s Lariat Nights will continue with a performance by American Crossroads at the Art Center on Thursday from 5-8 p.m.
These events present a Nevada evening of conversations and the opportunity to peruse creations from local artisans. Beverages including a different “crafty cocktail” will be available for purchase in the newly renovated Lariat Café. Other evenings will feature music with Mark & Friends on Aug. 11 and Money Back Guarantee on Aug. 25. For more information, call CAC at 775-423-1440.
Kirk Robertson covers the arts and may be reached at email@example.com.