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"Dark Matters" at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts 

High-tech artists make a multimedia map of the world

Wednesday, Aug 1 2007
"Artists see the impossible," the subtitle for Yerba Buena's "Dark Matters" exhibition, seems a little banal. Of course artists see the impossible; isn't that part of their job description? A quick survey of the "hi-tech installations, photography, video and conceptual projects" that compose the show, however, is enough to excite even the most multimedia-jaded literalist. Bay Area artist Trevor Paglen is known for surveilling the surveillers, so to speak: He photographs military bases like Area 51 from long distances, using astronomy-grade lenses, and makes lists of the macho code names for classified military programs (Silent Assurance, Sly Boulder, and, uh, Sea Ferret?). The collaborative team BULL.MILETIC (Synne Bull and Dragan Miletic) presents "Heaven Can Wait," time-lapse videos of the views from 30 of the world's revolving restaurants, including the Hyatt's Equinox here in San Francisco and the Donaturm in Vienna, Austria. The result is a dizzying meta-panorama of cities from a touristic distance. "Listening Post," by Ben Rubin and Mark Hansen, connects the viewer to the Internet in a new way: Hundreds of small screens display text pulled in real-time from chat rooms, as a Radiohead-esque digital voice reads them, or as music plays, alternately. The scrolling text flickers in the dark room like flaring epiphanies of interconnectedness.

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Traci Vogel


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