After Dark: Seeing the Unseen

Thursday, August 12, 2021 • 6:00 p.m. PT

Not a member yet? Join us and get free admission all year long!

Adults Only (18+)

Note: Free for After Dark members and donors, only a membership card and ID required for entry. The Tactile Dome is currently closed.

How can tools and technologies help us “see” aspects of the environment, both natural and built, that are otherwise hidden to the human eye? And how are these new visions of landscapes—from cities to forests to oceans—supporting a new understanding of the world around us? Tonight at After Dark, learn more about cutting-edge technologies in use across science, industry, and the arts to help us better understand the world around us, protect our environment, and catch a glimpse of civilizations from the past. Then engage with projects taking a creative and sometimes speculative approach to mapping landscapes.

Food and drinks will be available to purchase in our Seaglass Restaurant and at the outdoor bar in Gallery 5 to enjoy in those designated spaces during After Dark. Please note that there is no drinking or eating allowed elsewhere inside the museum at this time.

Curious about what to expect during your visit? Check out our current safety protocols and guidelines.

Just for Tonight:

Speculative Architecture: Short Films
6:00 –10:00 p.m.
Osher Gallery 1, Microcinema

While LiDAR and Geographic Information System mapping (GIS) may first be thought of as tools of industry, in the hands of artists, they can be used to intriguing effect. Check out these short films that make use of these technologies:

Liam Young’s Where the City Can’t See (14 min.) is the first narrative fiction film shot entirely with laser scanners, and imagines a future city through the eyes of technological systems.

Josh Begley’s Best of Luck with the Wall (6 min.) is a voyage across the entire 1954 miles of the US-Mexico border crafted with 200,000 satellite images.

DJ Lady Ryan
From Hip Hop for Change

6:30–7:45, 8:15–9:30 p.m.
Bechtel Gallery 3

Get ready to dance your way through the night as DJs from Hip Hop for Change set the vibe and keep the party moving all night! Tonight, Lady Ryan brings her deep knowledge of multiple genres and a touch of nostalgia to After Dark. Lady Ryan has opened for artists such as George Clinton, Erykah Badu, and Anderson Paak. She has held long-standing residencies at some of East Bay's most popular clubs and breweries, and in 2016 was awarded the Readers’ Choice in the East Bay Express “Best of the Bay”. 

Hip Hop for Change is an Oakland-based nonprofit that uses grassroots activism to educate people about socioeconomic injustices and advocate solutions through hip-hop culture.

Journey to Equal Rights
With CyArk

6:30–9:30 p.m.
Osher Gallery 1

Take an up-close walk through historic sites that have been the scenes of transformative social change. CyArk’s Journey to Equal Rights collection facilitates engagement with the ongoing struggle for equal rights through place-based virtual experiences. The places where social movements began serve as powerful canvases for visualizing and learning about the history of diverse forms of activism. This collection highlights a variety of human rights issues by documenting and crafting walkthroughs of locations that were formative in advancing particular causes. Walk through sites including Angel Island, Martin Luther King Jr. Historical Park, Cesar E. Chavez National Monument, and Stonewall—and chat with members of the team who worked to create these immersive experiences.

CyArk is a nonprofit organization founded in 2003 to digitally record, archive, and share significant cultural heritage locations and ensure that these places inspire wonder and curiosity for decades to come. 

Fictional Cartography
With Sean Hewens

6:30–9:30 p.m.
Osher Gallery 1

Sean Hewens makes maps that could be real. And sometimes are. But often aren’t. View a selection of Sean’s maps—both real and fictional. Chat with him about his process, which draws from historical documents, crowdsourced survey responses, and open-source data to create maps that range from functional to whimsical to intentionally misleading. Then grab a postcard to participate directly in his next fictional cartography project.

Sean Hewens is a designer living in San Francisco. 

Using Computer Vision to Build Empathy for Nature
With Amanda Bullington

7:30 p.m.
Osher Gallery 1, Kanbar Forum

Even on the shortest stroll through the outdoors, you can expect to encounter a broad range of plants and animals—but how many can you identify? Developed by iNaturalist, Seek is an AR app that encourages you to get outside, observe, and cultivate empathy for nature. Hear from Amanda Bullington, Seek’s lead software engineer, about how the app uses computer vision to help people identify and learn about the plants and animals they observe and encounter in situ. Then learn how Seek, as part of the broader iNaturalist ecosystem, is helping scientists better understand local landscapes—and engaging community scientists in environmental awareness.

Amanda Bullington is a software engineer who enjoys balancing her desire to be outdoors with her passion for building consumer-first products. As lead software developer for Seek by iNaturalist, she encourages users to explore biodiversity and cultivate curiosity about the natural world. Outside of work, she is often found photographing marine birds.

Discussing Space, Lasers, and Wildfire Without the Conspiracy Theories
With Christopher Anderson

8:30 p.m.
Osher Gallery 1, Kanbar Forum

You can learn a lot about a tree by scanning it with a laser. You can learn a lot about many trees by bolting a laser scanner to an airplane and flying over a forest. Can we learn something about every tree by launching a big laser into space? Join us for a review of how airborne and satellite technologies are being used to map forests—including vegetation fuel loads—and stay for some future speculation as to how they might help reduce our exposure to catastrophic wildfires.

Christopher Anderson is a researcher at the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University and co-founder of Salo Sciences, a conservation technology company based in San Francisco. He previously spent five years shooting lasers at trees in tropical forests around the world from the back of an airplane. It was a good gig.

Exemplary Exhibits

Discover invisible processes unfolding across the Bay, the land, and the atmosphere with Visualizing the Bay Area—this large-scale relief map of the Bay Area becomes a projection surface where animated data about the region’s geology, weather, and other phenomena appear across its topography. 

Learn about the natural and social forces that have impacted the Bay’s landscape at  the Observatory Library and Prelinger Thematic Atlas.

After Dark: Seeing the Unseen at the Exploratorium is made possible with the generous support of Waymo.