ArtSEA: Seattle shows that make you feel the planet spin


Immersing yourself in art that reflects the greater forces of nature is a pretty solid way to unwind from choice anxiety. Luckily, there are several ways to do that this weekend.

The ebb and flow of bodies in Pite’s dance piece has a visual parallel a few blocks away, at MadArt Studio in South Lake Union. Already in August I wrote about the beginnings of Alison Stigora’s log-scale installation, salvage. It is now complete (until November 23rd) and will serve as a wonderful midday meditation. The huge pieces of driftwood plucked from the waters of Puget Sound are arranged in it a high wave that looks frozen in time. Step inside, sit on one of the lower logs and immerse yourself in the smell of wood and the subwoofer’s soundtrack of underwater globs and deep tones.

The magic of nature is also ushered in at the Bainbridge Island Art Museumwhich is currently showing a retrospective of the work of the longtime Seattle glass artist Ginny Ruffner. In addition to many artistically formed works, What happened if? (through February 15, 2023) features an eye-catching installation in the building’s two-story front windows inspired by the glow and flow of the Aurora Borealis. Called “Project Aurora‘, the 20-by-10-foot sculpture is made up of hanging poles with LED light bulbs.

Ruffner moved in Ed Fries, a former Microsoft programmer who led the team that built the first Xbox to achieve her vision. He wired 34,560 individually addressable one-millimeter LEDs and programmed the GANs (Generative Adversarial Networks) to create the changing display. I won’t pretend to understand the technical details, but apparently the “neural network” “learns” how to recreate the Aurora Borealis based on images fed it from reality. That means the display is always different, never repeating itself as it casts its mysterious glow off into the distance.


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