Technology and Art in Silicon Valley

Computers, space exploration, airships, Google, iGadgets, transhumanism, 3D printers, TechShop… all the technologies of science fiction becoming reality converge in Silicon Valley. It’s pretty amazing, and you wonder what’s coming next. But narrative fiction isn’t the only way to explore and inspire possible futures: there are also art and music.

If you have time this weekend , check out the ZERO1 Biennial in San Jose for performances and artist lectures at the (e)MERGE Street Festival, as well as gallery shows and public art. (I’m sure there will be food trucks, too.) The show started Wednesday, September 12, 2012, but I was preoccupied with my own art and didn’t check the schedule until today.

There’s even a brunch with author and commentator Bruce Sterling on Saturday morning, September 15, 2012. There are also associated events all around the SF Bay Area from August until November, but the headquarters is in San Jose’s South First Arts district, only a couple of blocks from my own headquarters at TechShop San Jose.

Of course I can’t skip TechShop’s contribution to the festival; they’re the site for Ars Virtua’s V2V Project, a sister-city type of art exchange between Silicon Valley in California and Titanium Valley in Russia. San Jose locals may recall their previous exhibit in the City Hall spaces on Fourth Street, featuring photography by California artists visiting Yekaterinburg, Russia and Russian artists visiting California. The current exhibit portrays our region’s transition from the agricultural Valley of the Heart’s Delight to Silicon Valley. This is one of the few installations associated with ZERO1 that won’t be sticking around for at least a month; it’s in the classroom/conference room, and I’m sure TechShop needs it back.

Another exhibit you may want to catch while it’s still around is more literally historical in nature: City Beneath the City by Rene Yung features artifacts from San Jose’s Chinatown that was razed to build areas of the current downtown. It’s at the San Jose Museum of Contemporary Art and closes Sunday, September 16, 2012.

I don’t want to give the impression this is all retrospective–those two exhibitions are not a representative sample! Most of the art I saw at the main venue was more about technology and society in the present and future than it was about history. That show continues to December 8, 2012, so if you don’t have time this weekend, it’s worth a trip some other time. Most of the works are thought-provoking and/or interactive–and there’s a reading room–so it’s probably good to visit some time when it’s less crowded than it will be this weekend. I enjoyed some reflective time there in the early evening while most patrons were still stuck on the freeway after work.

If you’re in the Bay Area but San Jose is too far for you, check the schedule anyhow. There are quite a few events and exhibits in San Francisco, Berkeley, and even Marin.

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