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“Engineers of Illumination” After-Dark Light Art Installation | California Historical Society

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Monday, November 30, 2015 - 5:00 pm | Cost: FREE
California Historical Society | 678 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA


“Engineers of Illumination” After-Dark Light Art Installation | California Historical Society

lopa_pikta

Engineers of Illumination is a series of artist-based, projected-light installations honoring the stunning achievements of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE).

During CHS’s exhibition City Rising: San Francisco and the 1915 World’s Fair (Feb. 22, 2015 – Jan. 3, 2016), six light-based artists from the Optic Flare collective show an after-dark artwork in the CHS gallery’s front and side windows, each running for approximately six weeks. Optic Flare is a collective of experimental media artists with significant experience in creating light-based installations and performances in public spaces.

The installations can be viewed after dark from Mission Street or Annie Alley.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 4.55.10 PM“Engineers of Illumination” Projection Schedule

Shimmering Spectacles by Scott Stark
November 23–29, 2015

Kicking off the series is Scott Stark’s Shimmering Spectacles. In his installation, Stark animates a unique collection of original stereoview photographs from the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition and intermixes them with contemporary imagery, bringing to life the multiple spectacles that comprised the legendary San Francisco world’s fair. In the process, he turns each window into a “spectacle”—a lens that pulls into sharp focus these defining, magical moments of San Francisco history.

illuminated_palaceThe Illuminated Palace, by Kevin Cain
December 7–13, 2015

The Illuminated Palace combines lensless camera techniques from the dawn of photography with contemporary digital views to capture architect Bernard Maybeck’s vision of the Palace of Fine Arts as a fleeting ruin. “Maybeck spoke of his desire to free the Palace from the obligatory physical limitations he understood all built objects in the world must have,” Cain explains. “If the Palace is a chrysalis, the butterfly Maybeck sought is something his contemporary Rose Macaulay sums up in her lovely phrase: ‘the pleasure of ruins.'” Through the use of light, Cain explores Maybeck’s fantasy of dematerializing the Palace, weaving into his projections a likely future in which a rising Pacific may claim the Palace and its lagoon once and for all.

zumwaltLopa Pikta (Rope Picture), by Ben Wood
Thursday, August 20, 2015 – Sunday, October 4, 2015
November 30–December 6, 2015

The 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) celebrated the winning of the West: “manifest destiny” had prevailed, the country had spread from sea to sea. At the center of the fair stood a huge statue called the End of the Trail, whose plaque read: “the drooping storm beaten figure of the Indian on the spent pony symbolizes the end of the race which was once a mighty people.” Native Americans were no longer seen as obstacles to expansion. Their image had changed from savage heathens to romanticized tragic figures. Ishi, the last surviving member of the Yahi Indian tribe, attended the fair. Ben Wood’s projection Lopa Pikta (meaning Rope Picture) refers to the term that Ishi used to describe motion pictures. It utilizes images of Ishi and highlights linguistic preservation efforts by ethnographers such as Alfred Kroeber, Thomas Waterman, and linguist Edward Sapir during a period when others, including those at the PPIE, marked the demise of Native Americans.

Field of Vision, by Elise Baldwin
Thursday, October 8, 2015 – Sunday, November 22, 1915
December 14–20, 2015

Much as the completion of the Panama Canal in 1915 was a twentieth-century engineering triumph over geographical obstacles, the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) was a demonstration of human and cultural resilience in response to the devastation of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fires. The fantastical city of the PPIE was born from the shadow of this disaster, a message to the world celebrating the combined powers of technology, industrialization, cultural determinism, and globalization. In her installation, Elise Baldwin juxtaposes panoramic landscape photographs of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake with panoramics of the PPIE. Overlaying photographic panoramas from different years, maps, and other documents from the era, she underscores the surreal phoenix-like rebuilding of the city and construction of the fairgrounds.

city_luminousThe City Luminous: Spectral Canopy Variation, by Kerry Laitala
December 21–January 3, 2015

In her installation, Laitala pays tribute to the innovative lighting design of the PPIE. A pastiche of archival material from the fair intercut with expressionistic images that expand upon the fair’s stunning lighting effects, The City Luminous provides an imaginative view into the past inspired by Walter D’Arcy Ryan, the fair’s illumination engineer, and the avant-garde dancer Loie Fuller, who raised funds to preserve the Palace of Fine Arts when the fair ended.


Event Details


Cost: FREE
Categories: *Top Pick*, Art & Museums, History, San Francisco
Address: 678 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA

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