Past Exhibitions
Engineers of Illumination Artists
Engineers of Illumination artists (left to right) Scott Stark, Kerry Laitala, Kevin Cain, Elise Baldwin, and Ben Wood

PAST EXHIBITION

ENGINEERS OF ILLUMINATION

Engineers of Illumination: A Projected Light Project by Optic Flare

March 7, 2015 - January 3, 2016

Every night from dusk until midnight

For the duration of CHS's exhibition City Rising: San Francisco and the 1915 World's Fair (Febrary 22, 2015 – January 3, 2016), this series of artist-based, projected-light installations honors the stunning achievements of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE). Six light-based artists will show an after-dark artwork in the CHS gallery's front and side windows, each running for approximately six weeks. The installations can be viewed from Mission Street or Annie Alley.

Optic Flare is a collective of experimental media artists with significant experience in creating light-based installations and performances in public spaces.

Engineers of Illumination is supported by a grant from the Yerba Buena Community Benefit District.

Scott Stark, Shimmering Spectacles (video still), 2015
Engineers of Illumination: Shimmering Spectacles by Scott Stark

March 7, 2015 – April 16, 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.

Engineers of Illumination is supported by a grant from the Yerba Buena Community Benefit District.

Engineers of Illumination: A Projected Light Piece by Optic Flare
The City Luminous: Spectral Canopy Variation
A projected light piece by Kerry Laitala
The City Luminous: Spectral Canopy Variation
A projected light piece by Kerry Laitala

May 14, 2015 – June 28, 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.

The City Luminous is funded by a third Special Projects Grant from the Princess Grace Foundation, the California Historical Society, and Maurice Kanbar, with archival images provided by the California Historical Society, Donna Ewald Huggins, the Exploratorium, Craig Baldwin, and the Internet Archive. Access to an original Star Maiden was provided by the Oakland Museum of California.

The Illuminated Palace
Video still from Kevin Cain's The Illuminated Palace in the windows of the California Historical Society
The Illuminated Palace , by Kevin Cain

Thursday, July 2, 2015 - Sunday, August 16, 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.

Engineers of Illumination is supported by a grant from the Yerba Buena Community Benefit District.

Lopa Pikta (Rope Picture) - A projected light piece by Ben Wood
Lopa Pikta (Rope Picture) - A projected light piece by Ben Wood
Lopa Pikta (Rope Picture)
A projected light piece by Ben Wood

Engineers of Illumination: A Projected Light Project by Optic Flare

Lopa Pikta (Rope Picture) , by Ben Wood

Thursday, August 20, 2015 – Sunday, October 4, 2015

Every night after dark

Lopa Pikta is the latest installation in Engineers of Illumination by Optic Flare , a projected light series honoring the stunning achievements of the 1915 World’s Fair. Lopa Pikta introduces the public to a Native American man called Ishi, who was the last native speaker of the Yahi Indians of Northern California. Ishi emerged from the wilderness into Oroville, California in 1911, at about 50 years of age, and became the subject of an extraordinary study at the University of California, San Francisco, where he lived until his death in 1916. Through films, photographs, and voice recordings of Ishi, anthropologists Alfred Kroeber and Thomas Waterman attempted to preserve the language, culture, and legacy of the Yahi people. Lopa Pikta (Rope Picture), the term Ishi used to describe motion pictures, presents a selection of the material resulting from this unique encounter. At the core of the video installation are audio recordings of Ishi, which the audience may listen to via their mobile devices as they view the installation from outside the building.

Artist Ben Wood describes his street-level installation as “a unique glimpse at Ishi in the city where he once lived.” The video includes an account of Ishi's meeting with members of the Blackfeet Tribe who were featured at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. To complement the archival footage—drawn from the collections of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology and the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley—Wood incorporates contemporary video of San Francisco locations Ishi frequented.

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 show an after-dark artwork in the CHS gallery's front and side windows, each running for approximately six weeks. The installations can be viewed from Mission Street or Annie Alley.

Optic Flare is a collective of experimental media artists with significant experience in creating light-based installations and performances in public spaces.

Engineers of Illumination is supported by a grant from the Yerba Buena Community Benefit District.

Field of Vision: Landscapes from the Imagination

Field of Vision: Landscapes from the Imagination , by Elise Baldwin

Thursday, October 8, 2015 – Sunday, November 22, 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.

Engineers of Illumination Artists
Engineers of Illumination artists (left to right) Scott Stark, Kerry Laitala, Kevin Cain, Elise Baldwin, and Ben Wood

Reprise: Engineers of Illumination

Thursday, November 23, 2015 – January 3, 2016

In order of appearance:

Shimmering Spectacles, by Scott Stark
The City Luminous: Spectral Canopy Variation, by Kerry Laitala
The Illuminated Palace, by Kevin Cain
Field of Vision, by Elise Baldwin
Lopa Pikta (Rope Picture), by Ben Wood

Optic Flare is a collective of experimental media artists with significant experience in creating light-based installations and performances in public spaces.

Engineers of Illumination is supported by a grant from the Yerba Buena Community Benefit District.

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