Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

The Ice Caps Are Melting 

Wednesday, May 14 2008
Famed artist William T. Wiley has transformed an old pinball machine into high art, doing something we're stunned hasn't been done before. And thanks to the efforts of Jim Dietrick of Novato's Pinball Revival, he made sure it could be played as well as gawked at. The original 1964 machine, which we glimpsed on the Internet Pinball Database (there is one!), offers one of those charmingly backward goodtime takes on mid-20th-century American might. Dealing with the first trip under the North Pole by a Nautilus submarine, North Star features an Elvis-in-the-Arctic joie de vivre with ice bunnies, singing Eskimos, and a polar bear on a leash. For his exhibit "Only One Earth — PunBall," Wiley reformatted this tableau into a dizzying comment on climate change and art, with a wild cartoony style awash in color and hinged together with mysterious text. Some of those words are daunting ("Only art can save us now"), others are wry puns ("The eye scabs are melting"), while a few are soberly utilitarian ("10 points when lit"). Although Wiley masterminded the project, Dietrick and Joe Sweeney and Richard Lang of the gallery helped transform the game, which is set on free play for the duration of the exhibit — right next to the original. Assorted works by the artist accompany the machine.
May 16-July 3, 2008

About The Author

Michael Leaverton


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"