In late April, my buddy Kate and I were going through a nighttime walk through the Arboretum. We ended up at the Manetti Shrem Museum to visit the iconic gong. If you’ve never been to the gong, aptly named Gong, that is a shame, because it is now gone. That’s right—when we pulled up to the museum, we were greeted with a sign that informed us that Gong will be leaving (and by now has already left) as of May 1st, and moving from the Manetti Shrem Museum to the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art. I am heartbroken, and don’t know how I will recover.
Gong was an interactive art installation created by William T. Wiley. As the name implies, it is a beautiful, dark brown gong with gold detailing. Part of the art was a large wooden log that you could pull back and use to strike the gong, which resulted in a comically loud GONG sound. There was something that felt almost wrong about making such a loud sound outside of a museum. Whenever I would strike the gong, I would question whether it was even allowed. I felt like I was experiencing the art on such a personal level, like I was creating art by striking it. The interaction with it made it feel like the observer was also a part of the art.
Gong was an integral part of my time at UC Davis. I remember when I was a first year, my R.A. had a social for our dorm’s floor where we went to Gong. That’s how cool it was—you could base a whole excursion on it. Throughout my time in Davis, I’ve taken myself on outings to Gong, and have taken friends who visited from home to see it and strike it. It was a part of campus that I was proud of. I felt honored to be able to call a campus with a gong my campus. Not only could I tease my friends at other schools with “Oh, wait, so your school doesn’t have cows?” but I could also say the same about gongs. Gong was one of the many things on campus that make our campus so special. I appreciate the way that the Manetti Shrem Museum rotates its installations, and am excited to see what new art arrives next. However, with the departure of Gong also departs a piece of my heart. I will have to find a new way to cope with the stressors in life, as I no longer have the option of striking a 4,000 pound gong with a giant log for all of the city of Davis to hear. Although Gong was my only campus fave that you can physically strike, there is still a plethora of cool things on campus that I can now turn to. I will now probably be focusing my affection on the water tower (the one you can see from the freeway, NOT the one near Dairy Field).