Karaoke is a social phenomenon. You get together with a bunch of co-workers, drink way too many gin-and-tonics, and have a riot mangling Journey tunes. In this new exhibit at the Henry, however, Korean avant-garde artist Lee has created solitary, self-contained karaoke pods: sleek little soundproof fiberglass "cars" that resemble 1960s-era Jaguars without the wheels. Judging from the opening-night crowd, the pods are a big hit, and for good reason: Each sealed environment gives you permission to sing as horribly and loudly as you want. But there's a dark, critical side to what Lee is doing here. He takes what was once a warm, social melding of pop culture and technology, then reduces it to the lonely individual. So much of contemporary technology has eliminated the need for any actual human contact, and these pods are just an extension of the trend. For some, these pods might provide a kind of flimsy refuge (like sitting in traffic and picking your nose, believing you're invisible to the outside world). But for me, Lee shows something sad about these cool vehicles going nowhere: They're emblems of technology's failure to connect us. It's no coincidence the faux-leather interiors resemble coffins. We live and die alone, to the tune of "Hotel California." Sounds like hell to me. Henry Art Gallery, U.W. campus, 206-543-2280. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues.-Sun; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Thurs. 206-728-1980. 2 p.m.-8 p.m. Tues.-Thurs., noon-5 p.m. Fri.-Sun. Ends Jan. 11. ANDREW ENGELSON


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