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California's Codeworkers

By Rhizome


The San Francisco Bay Area has long been home to new media artists. Some of the most pioneering and respected names in the field have made a home in this West Coast hotbed. Close proximity to Silicon Valley, NASA, Berkeley, Stanford, the Cadre Institute, and thriving conceptual art and avant garde film communities, among other creative and technological resources has generated what SF's Rx Gallery calls 'Fertile Ground' for new media. In an exhibition by that name, open through April 29, this catalyst in the local community pays homage to the area's roots while presenting the work of mostly emerging and mid-career artists. The show includes Jim Campbell, Jim Haynes, Jeff Hoefs & Peter Chester, Kristin Lucas, Hendrik Leper & Stijn Schiffeleers, Sean Talley, and Mary Elizabeth Yarbrough. Curator Virgil Polit cites the region's 'half-century of activism and counterculture' as an organizing influence and seeks to situate the work in relationship to the art historical tradition of merging art and science. Though the Bay Area is frequently branded by non-locals as a 'digital playground,' the artists in this show use new media to take on serious issues ranging from the philosophy of perception to the dangers of media overload. This isn't to say that the work isn't fun or beautiful; it's just equally smart, California-style. - Marisa Olson

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