Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Gray Area Beacon

Here to report on the opening gala for Gray Area Beacon, a new multimedia gallery and the brainchild of my brilliant friend Josette (of Gray Area Gallery/Hear Gallery fame).  It was a fabulous show, and not just because of the strong showing of high-tech works by featured artist Aaron Koblin in his first San Francisco show.  Looking around and taking in the gallery, a freshly-converted SOMA garage still smelling of paint and sweat, there was a palpable feeling of collaborative accomplishment and (well-earned) pride shared by the bash's hosts as well as the intimate gathering of attendees.  Here is a perfect example of a small group of motivated people, dedicated to creating a forum to showcase something they believe in, and building it from scratch.  I was dazzled and inspired.  

Some standout works included The Sheep Market, a collaborative drawing project where Koblin collected digital drawings from countless participants after giving them only these terse instructions: Please draw a sheep facing to the left.  The result is a large scale, ever-changing projection of line drawings which is simple, yet totally hypnotic.  It was like counting sheep for the laziest insomniac.
Koblin also showed his reconstructed $100 bill, a project in which he broke down the C-note into thousands of pieces so small as to be unrecognizable as part of the original.  He sent these units out to participants who were to draw a likeness of what they saw and send it back.  An image of the bill, reconstructed from its new constituents, was on exhibition as part of the show.

Also showing was a breathtaking light show of a map, exploring Koblin's interest in technology and human systems.  The display simply tracked flight patterns across America throughout a day.  But the more I looked at it, the less it seemed like what it was.  The flashing lights and dynamic, organic rhythm could easily have been neurons firing in a baby's brain, or a fluorescent spiderweb being spun at hyper-speed.

As far as I know, Koblin's main focus with this piece was on the human level, but it's one more experience that reminds me that the same forces that operate on a micro level govern the macro as well. 

(While I'm on this tangent, check out the short film The Powers of Ten  made by Charles and Ray Eames.  I just watched it again and I still enjoy it as much as I did in the 4th grade when I first saw it!)

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