As Gray Area enters our 15th year, we are excited to announce three groundbreaking events in a special season of programming focused on ACCESS.

As technological advancements bring opportunities with unprecedented access to tools, information, and participation, they simultaneously foreground the need for critical engagement with these society-changing ramifications. Decentralized technologies enable new modalities of organization and governance that can either reify or dismantle existing systems of oppression. Generative artificial intelligence tools have the potential to unlock new heights for human expression, but also necessitate new cultural understandings of creativity, the role of the artist, and the future of work. To ensure that access is meaningfully inclusive and equitable, we must not only focus on expanding access to existing tools, but also on the participation of diverse perspectives in the creation and design of new ones.

Experience these major exhibitions, talks, and performances by becoming a Gray Area Member today

Gray Area Members offer critical sustaining support for our programs and get free admission to all of our events, exclusive member content, and much more.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer


March 16 - May 31, 2023

Admission to TECHS-MECHS will be free for residents of San Francisco’s Mission District, a historic center of the city’s Latinx and Mexican-American communities.

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TECHS-MECHS is a unique survey of ten works by media artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. Spanning immersive installations, kinetic sculptures, generative animations, and massive shadow theaters, the exhibition is rooted in a rich chronology of technological cultural history in the artist’s native Mexico.

Known for his large-scale critical, poetic, and participatory installations, Lozano-Hemmer incorporates a wide range of technologies—biometric sensors, surveillance cameras, artificial intelligence, custom software—often while subverting their intended use as military-derived tools of surveillance and control.

The exhibition marks the West Coast premiere of “Pulse Topology” (2021), the culmination of Lozano-Hemmer’s most celebrated series of works activated by the human pulse. Composed of three thousand suspended light bulbs, each glimmering to the heartbeat of a different participant, the installation creates an immersive chorus of light and sound.

Difference Machines

Technology and Identity in Contemporary Art

July 7–August 31, 2023

Exhibiting Artists
Morehshin Allahyari, Zach Blas, Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley, A.M. Darke, Stephanie Dinkins, Hasan Elahi, Sean Fader, Rian Ciela Hammond, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Joiri Minaya, Mongrel, Mendi + Keith Obadike, Sondra Perry, Keith Piper, Skawennati, Saya Woolfalk, Lior Zalmanson

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Difference Machines: Technology and Identity in Contemporary Art addresses the complex relationship between the technologies we use and the identities we inhabit. The exhibition presents the work of seventeen contemporary artists who ask some of the most urgent questions we face today: How is technology changing the way we see ourselves and each other? In what ways does it contribute to—or allow us to resist—prejudice and systemic forms of oppression?

Dynamic and interactive, the works range from software-based and internet art to animated videos, bioart experiments, online games, and 3-D printed sculptures. Together these projects examine how digital systems contribute to the erasure and exploitation of marginalized people, as well as emphasize how digital tools can be repurposed to tell more inclusive stories and imagine new ways of being.

Gray Area’s presentation of this exhibition has been made possible by Buffalo AKG Art Museum. This exhibition was curated by Tina Rivers Ryan, Ph.D., Curator at the Buffalo AKG Museum, and Paul Vanouse, Professor at University at Buffalo.

Gray Area Festival + CripTech Metaverse Lab

CripTech Lab convenings

Ongoing through October 2023

Gray Area Festival

September 2023

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VR, AR and spatial audio present significant access frictions and barriers for disabled users and creators. The CripTech Metaverse Lab, a collaboration between Leonardo CripTech Incubator and Gray Area, will gather ten disabled creatives to collectively experience immersive artworks, generate participatory aesthetic access, and create new speculative artworks culminating in Gray Area Festival 2023.

The lab will imagine new creative pathways for experiencing metaverse artworks amongst participants and future audiences. The findings from this research lab will be shared via the publication of a white paper in Leonardo journal, an online research archive, and culminate in a series of talks, performances, and an exhibition for the 2023 Gray Area Festival this Fall.

The CripTech Lab was conceived by Vanessa Chang and Lindsey D. Felt. Convenings will be facilitated by Frank Mondelli and Jennifer Justice, access doula Claudia Alick, as well as our teams at Leonardo/ISAST and Gray Area.

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