A cylindrical mirror turns a curved bench into something quite different, taking a Renaissance-era illusion into the third dimension. The installation encourages playful interactions among users, bringing people together both visually and socially as they explore the unexpected effects.
Here’s an exhibit where watching is at least half the fun. You can create any number of gravity-defying illusions that will amaze you and your friends: Levitate, fly, swim though the air, grow limbs (and dissolve them), crawl straight up the wall like a lizard—the sky’s the limit.
Archimedes is comprised of two 8-foot diameter dish-like chairs placed 80 feet apart. Each dish’s parabolic curve collects and focuses sound waves and reflects them to participants seated within them. Even whispers uttered from one dish can be clearly heard by the surprised listener seated in the opposite dish.
Thousands of distinct species live and breathe (or not) in this colorful bacterial terrarium. Look for green cyanobacteria, orange iron oxidizers, and gray cellulose eaters. What you see today will be gone tomorrow in this living artwork in a perpetual state of change.
Bay Lexicon is a visual dictionary made up of illustrated flash cards, exploring the landscape visible from the Bay Observatory’s windows as well as places and phenomena along the shoreline between Fort Point and Hunters Point.
Five clear, rotating disks provide beautiful windows onto the motion of sediments in the Bay. Spin them to compare the behavior of gravel, sand, and fine silt—how the currents carry them and how they settle out of the swirling waters.
Tilt a spinning bicycle wheel while you’re sitting in a swivel chair and—surprise—you’ll start spinning in circles, too. You can also witness the same phenomenon here by hanging a spinning wheel from its axle.
Developed by artist Michael Brown in collaboration with reclaimed wood specialist Evan Shively, a several-hundred-year-old Douglas fir was split down the center to reveal its rings, immersing visitors in a fascinating study of dendrochronology.
These upside down, bike-powered machines are built to throw ropes twenty feet into the air. Acting a bit like water and a bit like rope, the loops dance along the ground as visitors play an Exploratorium-style game of jump rope.
This artwork features air bubbling up through a fine powder constrained between two glass plates tilted at a 45 degree angle. The tilting creates a continually changing landscape evocative of aerial photographs of river drainage networks on Earth and on Mars.
Comprised of 4,500 LED nodes arranged along a series of pentagons and hexagons, Leo Villareal's Buckyball is animated by custom software programmed by the artist to display over 16 million distinct colors.
The visitor gives an initial twist to the pendulums with a protruding knob. Intuition says that the resulting motion of this system should be, if not simple, at least predictable. Intuition, however, does not work with this device since its motion is chaotic, extremely complicated and long-lived.
Sand scattered on a large metal square vibrates and jumps in response to the sound of your voice. When you hit just the right note(s), the sand spontaneously migrates into elegant geometrical patterns.