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Art, biology, tech converge at The Lab (photos)

San Francisco art gallery, called The Lab, explores interactive art with a special emphasis on biotechnology.

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James Martin

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SonicSENSE

SAN FRANCISCO--Exploring the similarities in the mechanic and natural worlds, art:tech, an exhibit at The Lab in San Francisco's Mission District, contrasts technology with its natural origins.
Multimedia installations infused with elements of the natural world take cues from biotechnology, blurring the boundaries of what we see as natural and artificial worlds.
Step up to this kinetic sculpture and digital camera, which blends pictures with patterns of water. The "SonicSense BlowTank" senses the subject's presence, shoots a photograph, and enacts a robotic kinetic sculpture that then shoots a random pattern of air into a tank of water.
The pattern of disruption in the water bubbles then morphs with the photograph, creating a distorted image projected on the walls of the gallery.
The result is a photo that is blended with natural patterns, an overlay of the natural world blended with the robotic movements of the digital image and the machine.
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Virobots

"Virobots," a series of mechanic creatures by Tracy Jacobs and Canner Mefe, use computer viruses as navigational message carriers, transforming the source code of dangerous digital diseases into the kinetic movements of a bug-like machine.
The manifestation of the programs into creepy creatures brings the notion of digital malice into the physical world.
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Fly Blimps

Silently hovering through the gallery is "Fly Blimps," a living, breathing machine that uses the movements of fruit flies to control tiny fans, steering the blimps through the air.
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Fly Blimps

Made from off-the-shelf blimp kits, the hacked electronics are home to tiny flies; only instead of buzzing around the room, the flies' movements inside the control pod are translated into on-off switching of the fans.
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Fly Blimps

Light sensors detect the flies' movement. Buzzing inside the machine, the flies disrupt a beam of light, controlling the fans.
The flies are unconsciously and collectively driving the blimps, their activity turning the fans on either side of the blimps off and on, giving the flies a new kind of flight based on their movements.
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Can't hear the music

A video camera mounted on the monitor of "Can't Hear the Music," by Chris Basmajian "watches" a light bulb on a pendulum.
Start the bulb swinging, and the custom software loops excepts from the film "Alphaville," mimicking the swinging bulb, transforming the light into digital display.
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Everything Changes

A biofeedback installation called "Everything Changes," by artist Andrew Kleindolph, claims to predict the future.
After a viewer inserts her hands into the demonic device, the machine reads its subject, predicting the coming cause of death.
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Largo

"Largo," by Kit Rosenberg, is a series of slides driven by a ticking metronome; it cycles through a series of artworks depicting the rising and setting of the sun.
The cycles of time, shown in the phases of the sun, translate the mechanic ticking of the time-keeping machine into a representation of the natural world. Viewers can watch the sun cycle by with each click of the metronome and turn of the slide projector.

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