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Art Meets Technology

A digital wave of change has finally rolled into the heart of the Tenderloin. On October 2nd, Gray Area Foundation for the Arts (GAFFTA) hosted its inaugural, show titled "Open". The non-profit organization's gallery's allure comes not only from its blend of cubism and minimalism but also from its strong emphasis on expansive forms of technology.

GAFFTA is at the forefront of a movement absorbing accelerated information with the ability to harness and paint digital landscapes. In collaboration with San Francisco-based artists and financial contributors, GAFFTA’s after-hours event went off until 1am to a packed house. Many curious visitors had the chance to play with an interactive map projected on the wall that highlighted different statistics about The Tenderloin and also San Francisco. Sure there was free alcohol, but the overall buzz came from everyone’s curiosity surrounding the breakthrough artwork.

The creative mission behind GAFFTA is “technology, community and openness.” Peeling back the layers of The Tenderloin, from its intense crime rate to a blend of working class cultures, Stamen Design, a technology studio, featured several maps of touching on the various demographics of the TL, complete with newspaper clippings worked in.

At GAFFTA the plans for urban renewal are unfolding. Through art and our omnipresent, exponential technology, the push to reclaim and revive financially and socially troubled areas is the mission that lies ahead.

During the gallery opening one room contained a projected piece by C.E.B. Reas, in a small cubby. Through digital projection aimed at the floor from above sprayed a diamond pattern of what appeared to be stain-glass windows, each swirling, morphing and filtering into a new sequence.

On a far grander scale this concept could be applied to first floor storefront windows and a series of projectors could be mounted high up in trees or on lampposts. Through these efforts neighborhoods (and even whole cities) that have fallen on harder times can be transformed.

Giving light, literally, to generally ignored areas would be the first step in helping build an appreciation and respect for a place or community. By starting at the very appearance and usage of city space these projects and instillations may create a whole movement of revival within the minds of the people where artwork is present. Part of GAFFTA’s vision includes, “a means to decode and humanize the evolving global database.”

This mission is being led by an underground movement of artists who work in a digital medium. Coding and programming designs in a virtually infinite workspace takes the world of possibilities to the far reaches of space. These artists take visual technology to another level, seamlessly bending around the rules. Paintings don’t usually react to the people around them, but Camille Utterback’s "Liquid Time", projected in the front facing windows of the gallery did. Anyone passing by gave off a motion effect to the looping videos of the area, rippling the projected footage. Whereas traditional museums may charge visitors, Utterback’s piece can be viewed anytime of the day, interacting with anyone who stops in its path.

GAFFTA cannot be dismissed as just another gallery opening. From the start they transformed a porn theater and various filth-ridden facilities into a fully functioning gallery where artists exploring a new frontier of art can brainstorm and showcase these manifestations. Its message and drive to use technology as art to bring communities together seemed well taken and by the end of the night people were still chatting about the space and dancing at what is clearly the new launch pad of social unity downtown.

Open runs through Nov 18th at GAFFTA. Exhibit hours: Tues - Fri, 1pm - 6pm. Admission is free.