Gray Area Gallery 2.0

It’s hard to believe that San Francisco, the very birthplace of Web 2.0, has lacked a gallery space dedicated to new interactive media arts – until now.

Tomorrow, Gray Area Gallery, whose space closed last year, celebrates the launch of what is, in effect, its 2.0 rebirth – Gray Area Beacon (GAB) – which claims to be the first San Francisco gallery space to focus exclusively on the intersection of art and technology.

“This is the moment in time for the Bay Area to celebrate and appreciate technology-based art,” said GAB co-founder Josette Melchor. “[GAB] is trying to provide a home for exhibits, ideas, and interaction.”

GAB’s launch party on Tuesday, 4/22, coincides with the first day of the Web 2.0 Expo and features four pieces by local artist Aaron Koblin in his first ever San Francisco show.

Aaron Koblin’s New York Talk Exchange

Recently featured in Wired Magazine and the New York MoMA, Koblin’s work creates visualizations of large datasets and human systems that explore some very Web 2.0 themes:digital labor marketplaces, online collaborations, and global communications.

“I thought [Koblin] was perfect because of [his] Sheep Market and Ten Thousand Cents pieces,” Melchor told the Guardian. “He’s used online means to get people to collaborate to create a large scale installation.”

Koblin’s Sheep Market features 10,000 sheep drawn by online “workers” from around world, each of whom were paid two cents to draw “a sheep facing left” using the Amazon Mechanical Turk marketplace.

Similarly, Ten Thousand Cents, Koblin’s collaboration with artist Takashi Kawashima, is a digital representation of a one-hundred dollar bill made up of one thousand tiny squares reproduced by anonymous online laborers who worked without knowledge of the overall picture. Each worker was paid one penny for his or her work, which amounted to $100 in total.

Also featured in the show are Koblin’s Flight Patterns and his New York Talk Exchange visualization.

Flight Patterns @ Yahoo! Video

Aaron Koblin’s Flight Patterns
Melchor’s vision for future GAB events is to promote participant interaction and dialogue as well as exhibit work. She plans to host a series of dinners, panels, and round tables that facilitate discussion among people in both tech and the arts. Under Melchor’s direction, Gray Area Gallery will be opening another space this summer in the Tenderloin.

The GAB launch party is appropriately sponsored by Blogtropol.us, the “blogger’s lounge and conversation center” at the Web 2.0 Expo created by the Conversation Group, as well as by Technorati.

Music will be provided by local DJ Qzen.


by Vanessa Carr