Cultural Transcendence

A quintet of artists mount separate installations in “Cultural Transcendence,” a curator’s conceit that doesn’t really unify the five galleries. In one, a video montage addressing the illegal internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. In another, CG-created (false) memories of a childhood day spent near Mt. Fuji. Local Brent Watanabe hooks up an animated bird to a hand-cranked Victrola (very kawaii), while Portland’s Horatio Law projects the faces of Chinese infants adopted by white Oregonians on a screen sewn from fabric petals. Lovely, but meaningless unless you read the explanatory placard. The biggest, most impressive gallery houses an interactive audio-visual vest of lights by South Korean artist Eunsu Kang, a PhD candidate at the UW. In the dark room, as she recently demonstrated, LEDs in the palms of a long-sleeved jacket—cabled to the ceiling and driven by computer algorithms—trigger responsive pink bubbles projected on the floor and ceiling. By waving the arms or flapping the sleeves, a burbling, watery soundtrack shifts in sync to the scattering, careening bubbles. (It’s a little like surround-sound in a movie theater.) Stand still, and they whirl and eddy like a pond gradually calming. AV feedback is also created when the LEDs are directed at each other, or at the body wearing the high-tech vest. Kids accustomed to Wii will love the installation, called Shin’m, while adults may be too shy to try. Where is the culture being transcended here? Kang’s work is cool enough that you won’t care there’s no answer. BRIAN MILLER

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Starts: Dec. 17. Continues through Sept. 29, 2009

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