Ken Fandell & Leo Saul Berk

What if every moment of your life, no matter how boring or banal, had a soundtrack? In part, that's what Seattle artist Ken Fandell explores in his series of videos titled "The Planets," which stages moments of no importance to the strains of Gustav Holst's orchestral work of the same name. Holst's most famous piece from that suite, "Mars: The Bringer of War," is a bit of bombast that's become a cliché, thanks to thousands of movie previews; Fandell uses it to accompany five minutes of a woman's foot bobbing up and down. In another video, frantic hand gestures—pointing and waving—are made elegant and almost calm through accompaniment by legato strings. "The Planets" is an apt name for Fandell's work, since he treats the camera like a Mars Rover, exploring the contours of faces and everyday human activities with a strange dispassion. In A Conversation Past Noon in 2005, the camera twists and wanders with random fascination, turning the human face into a geologic landscape. There's plenty to explore on this strange planet, and Fandell's vision of it is both fresh and unsettling. Geology also takes center stage in Leo Saul Berk's fantastic show "New Worlds," a collection of drawings and topographic sculptures created with the aid of computer-controlled 3-D modeling tools. Berk takes existing photos (Edward Weston's sand dunes, images of clouds, etc.) and converts the gradations of light and dark into height and depth. The resulting pseudo-maps are both fascinating and enchantingly beautiful: wood cut with stripes and striations of contours; lovely little layer-cake islands; and topographic drawings with intricate loops of glitter and color. Apparently, these drawings required Berk to buy out the entire stock of Jelly pens at the University Book Store. To all the teenage note writers denied their favorite implement: Your sacrifice was worth it. Howard House, 604 Second Ave., 206-256-6399, www.howardhouse.net. 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues.-Sat. Exhibit runs through Oct. 1. ANDREW ENGELSON

 
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