Steambot

The first thing you see at the group show Steambot is a log perched atop a metal pole. This is the Log Camera, a chunk of timber hollowed out and fitted at one end with a lens. Whimsical, yes, and functional: Visitors can peer through the log for a hazy, inverted view of Market Street. That feeling—of looking through antiquated machinery to the present—is the essence of this engaging exhibit by Rebecca Cummins, Pat Gallagher, Rusty Oliver, Randy Moss, and Simon Winder. Not exactly steampunk, the predominantly sculptural works in Steambot fuse an early 1900s aesthetic with modern tech. You can feel Tesla in some of these clever objects. Nearly every piece has an interactive component—buttons to push, pedals to crank, new angles for the viewer to assume. For me, the standout work is Ember, a crown-like chandelier suspended midair in a darkened room, softly thrumming and pulsing with a hypnotic orange incandescence. You listen to it hum, while also hearing the noise of internal-combustion vehicles passing outside, and have one foot in the now, the other in an indeterminate, unrealized past. Steambot is like a time machine in miniature. JOHN WOOD

Mondays-Fridays, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Starts: Oct. 15. Continues through Dec. 3, 2010

 
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