TRaNsMOGRifiCATiON underway at Granoff


If you have walked past or wandered through Granoff this week, you may have heard some strange noises and buzzing coming from the Cohen Gallery during the day, or have seen people tinkering inside late at night through the gallery’s large front windows. This is the TRaNsMOGRifiER, running in Granoff until Tuesday, March 3rd. Information on the project’s website and on the monitor outside the gallery are terse, with a few simple instructions:




I was granted special access to witness a transmogrification session this past week, and was able to talk with one of the TRaNsMOGRifiER’s installers, P—-, about the project’s concept and the transmogrification process. P—- describes the TRaNsMOGRifiER as a “system for altering things in surprising ways, with sonic, light, and visual components.” People bring in objects during the day and leave them in the Intake boxes. When the gallery closes at sundown, transmogrification goes into work. By the next morning, objects are back on the pedestals in their transmogrified form. P—- describes the cardboard box, a repeated motif in the space, as a “space for creative reconsideration” – objects are left at Intake and revealed the next day, but what goes on in between is not entirely certain.

My childhood

A Transmogrifier strip from Calvin and Hobbes.

When I first heard of the exhibit title, I was curious what influence Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes had on the project. In the comic strip, Calvin invents a transmogrifier from an upside down cardboard box, with a dial on the side that he uses to create duplicate Calvins (equally rowdy and disinterested in doing the original Calvin’s chores) as well as to transform himself into a tiger for a day. P—- cites Calvin and Hobbes as having one version of the TRaNsMOGRifiER, perhaps the most well-known, and this version in Granoff is another iteration of the system, installed by its original plans.


The exhibition is installed between two facing walls on both sides of the large windowed front – one is the Intake wall, with an array of stacked cardboard boxes with objects people have left, including a bed spread, a folding chair, an Altoids tin, and some Lego figurines. The other is another towering wall of boxes, with transmogrified things to be picked up.


In the center of the room, monumental pedestals rise up featuring some of the objects in their transmogrified states, such as a motorized, spinning, heart-shaped candy box with a button labeled “DO NOT PRESS :)”. These objects have been deconstructed and rebuilt, with added sound, light, and digital components. A glittery tricycle now has LED headlights. A cactus with a microphone and a plastic fork is labeled with the instructions “Play my spines!” Glow sticks are motorized, frantically slapping a pedestal’s surface.

From the TRaNsMOGRifiER at the Granoff, up through Tuesday, March 3rd

A video posted by BlogDailyHerald (@blogdailyherald) on

Polaroids on the wall document some of the transmogrified objects, and each of the displayed creations is labeled with a number that corresponds with the TRaNsMOGRifiER’s index: “TR0014,” “TR0015,” “TR0016,” and so on.


The overall atmosphere of the gallery makes the visitor sense the presence of a mad scientist, or perhaps a curious, imaginative kid like Calvin. Incandescent light bulbs dangle from the ceiling to illuminate the space. A network of wires and speakers hang from the back wall, all running from a slowly twirling machine that lights up and buzzes as an exposed dangling wire brushes by LEDs and batteries on spinning wheels. In the back of the room, in front of the wall of Output boxes, are two tables which function as the station for a messy workshop with vices, wires, welders, loose screws, LEDs, hot glue guns, and odds and ends. Wandering around the room, I felt like a kid, pushing buttons and flicking switches and not knowing what they would do. As an exhibit in which you are encouraged to touch objects, push buttons, and make noise, the TRaNsMOGRifiER breaks down the usual formality of the Cohen Gallery.

The sounds of the TRaNsMOGRifiER’s creations fill Granoff and spills out beyond the building. The space is charged with the crackling of electricity, motors, and twirling wires. The sounds grow, shrink, and rise in the space, and visitors can add to the intentional and almost melodious cacophony as they interact with the transmogrified objects.


TRaNsMOGRifiER will run in Granoff’s Cohen Gallery through March 3rd. The gallery will be open Saturday and Sunday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The closing reception and final performance, “an open transmogrification,” will happen on Tuesday at 7pm. 


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