Casondra Sobieralski, SF State
When you go to a show or event at CELLspace in San Francisco's Mission District, there are a few things you can expect. The art will be hip, the art will be funky, and it will not be trying to appease downtown collectors (though those with spare change sans bourgeois taste should know where to go.) That is the beauty of artist run community spaces. In general, the flavor of CELLspace runs towards the Neo-dada and Postindustrial. Art That Moves, the first show in a series that will comprise the San Francisco International Mechanical, Kinetic and Electronic Arts Festival, is no exception.

Pieces here run the gamut from robots to pre-digital animation, computer programs as art to intimate videos of human gesture. The title of the show allowed for a wide range of interpretation. Yet the show overall maintains a strong sense of cohesion because the representation of these interpretations is well balanced around a theme.

Perhaps one of the most intellectual pieces in this show is a collaborative work by Shirley Shor, Aviv Eyal and Piers Haken. Shor did the conceptualizing and her partners did much of the programming for Transparency of Evil. This piece is set up as an installation. Randomly generated computer patterns, some of which are quite delicate and beautiful, cast their glow onto a flat wall that marked the end of an angular black tunnel, created from hand-fixing squares of plastic drop cloth to the walls and floor. The images, are, however, interrupted by a vertical picture frame hung about three feet in front of the projection wall. This interruption and resulting shadow create a weird sense of spatial distortion. If I focused on the far wall, I felt like I was flying, looking down at a passing digital landscape. If I focused on the frame, the ceiling started to move down and compress me because the images were scrolling up. This piece is not just about being "trippy," though. Some high-power art and science theory stand behind it. Because the program allows for random generation, the ever-changing nature of the piece becomes very organic, hinting towards artificial intelligence. The algorithms creating the patterns were inspired by the research of Dr. Stephen Wolfram, author of the controversial A New Kind of Science. They represent "discrete mathematical entities known as Cellular Automata." Besides being visually engaging, this piece calls into question the whole notion of the way we look at systems in the natural world, and challenges our assumptions of what is "natural" and what is "artificial"

Another very successful piece challenges this shrinking dichotomy in a more traditional way. "Steel Flowers" by Charles Gadeken was a tangled, rusting steel, larger than life, man-made rendition of, well, great big flowers. And it is interactive. An old-fashioned box of brine pump buttons links to air pumps that are integrated into the sculptural form, which is based on line and the tactility of materials. Pressing the buttons creates blasts of air from corresponding pumps. Each pump makes a different sound, presumably form a different level of air compression, and because of the varying distance of the pumps form the participantıs ears. I enjoyed making "music" from this piece, using the buttons for the five brine pumps as a "keyboard." This bit of mad scientist pop art is somehow both dark and playful. On one hand, the scale and the rusting metal feel impending, dark and dangerous. Is this the result of genetic engineering gone awry in some post-apocalyptic future? On the other hand, it is fun to play, and empowering to have a sense of control over something so large in relation to the body. Apparently the pumps were designed to spew fire, not air, but this crowded indoor space does not allow for that safely. Fire obviously would change the piece, but I think either of the same messages would merely come across louder.

A third noteworthy set of pieces was by Ronia Ho. She created very low-budget flip books depicting scenes of social interaction, political unrest, and emotional states. In contrast to the spewing flower, they are very small, each about 2" x 3". The images within the books appear to be created from photocopies on colored paper. The low-budget approach works perfectly for the messages they convey, in which human relationships/actions and the ease of disseminating information at a populist level are inherent to the content. Viewers are invited to buy these original works of art for $3 each. Hoıs work evokes the conceptual strategies of a long line of political and pop artists of the 20th Century, from anti-war socialists of the Wiemer and World War II Eras, to Warhol and Haring, all of whom made art accessible to the masses and challenged the split between "high" and "low" art.

Tying neatly with this theme of the human element is Kimberly Koymıs video piece As if the Body Acts Alone. This piece looks at the body as kinetic object. It focuses on the hands of a storyteller, and how the gestures of the hands tell as much or more of a story as the voice. The choice of medium sets up an interesting dialectic. The shots are constructed in a softly lit, intimate interior. The artist uses close ups and gentle cross dissolves, which all strive to create a sense of warmth and sensuality that echoes touch. It is quite classically beautiful. Yet this is video, and it is not warm, and you cannot touch anything more than a glass screen. There is a wall separating the living from the technological. Ironically, even though this piece is focused on a theme that strives to reclaim our humanity, Shorıs digital piece and its representation of pure mathematics is actually more "alive" and closer to nature.

I would encourage anyone with an open mind to see this show. It offers so many levels of engagement that everyone is sure to leave feeling something different or thinking differently than when he/she arrived. On the surface it is accessible, fun and anti-establishment, and if a viewer stops there it is still a worthwhile show to see. However, if you scratch the surface, layers upon layers of content emerge. If this exhibit were at the Whitney instead of at a hidden raw space, people would be flocking and talking.

Do you find the scent of motor oil conforting? Feel at home in an debris-strewn wasteland? Did you create the debris-strewn wasteland? Are you friends with the guys down at Praxair?

Goody Gumdrops.

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