Lightplay: Festival of Light

Saturday, June 16, 2018 • 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

Exploratorium, Pier 15, Embarcadero at Green St., San Francisco

Included with museum admission.

All Ages

Note: Some activities and experiences have limited show times and/or limited capacity.

Observe and play in the glow of light, both natural and human-made. In this day-long festival, the transformative power of light and the human power of observation will be investigated through immersive artworks and hands-on activities. From projects using the earliest camera— the camera obscura—to experiences that rely on cutting-edge projection, this event indulges in the marvel of physics at work, while demystifying the science behind the artists’ processes.

Featured Artworks

16mm Color Experiments: A Workship with Richard Tuohy and Dianna Barrie
10:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Bechtel Gallery 3 Classrooms
Workshop capacity is limited. Please email to reserve a spot.

In this workshop with filmmakers Richard Tuohy and Dianna Barrie, learn more about the physical properties of 16mm and a creative technique for layering color on black-and-white film. Participants will collaborate to record footage using a method called bipacking, which sees black-and-white 16mm film layered with a second piece of film with alternating red, green and blue frames. You’ll then experiment with the different color synthesis possibilities this new work presents when projected. In addition to creating footage, you will also have the opportunity to watch the film be hand processed and learn more about Tuohy and Barrie’s approach and expertise in hand-processed filmmaking. Each workshop session runs approximately 90 minutes.

Untitled Solar Array by Chris Fraser
10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Bulkhead Lobby

In this commissioned artwork from Oakland-based artist Chris Fraser, the museum’s historic Pier 15 Bulkhead will be the site of a large-scale light study. By directing the incoming light through a window treatment that Fraser likens to a computer punch card, the seemingly simple patterns on the windows transform into complex shapes that subtly trace the movement of the Sun. Deeply inspired by one of the Exploratorium’s essential staff artists, Bob Miller, the work considers light as pictures, as it surrounds you in a thousand small Suns.

Infinity Room by Refik Anadol
10:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Osher Gallery 1, Black Box

This experience requires a free ticket, which will be distributed at the Black Box at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

Step into an otherworldly portal and envelop yourself in distorted light and perpetually morphing visuals. Watch the walls melt away as the barrier between the material and virtual realms blur into infinity. Infinity Room runs through Sunday, July 15, 2018.

Please Note: Strobe effects are used in this artwork.

Liminal Camera by Optics Division
11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
The Plaza

Step inside a traveling shipping container that is both a pinhole camera and darkroom. The Liminal Camera travels the country taking large-format photographs, which are processed on the flatbed truck, often using unusual processing chemistry. Join the Optics Division—Lauren Bon, Richard Nielson, and current Exploratorium Artist-in-Residence Tristan Duke—on board and learn more about their very special photography process and practice.

Light Catch Choreographed by Rachael Cleveland
Kanbar Forum

In this performance, the camera obscura is the point of departure for exploring inversion and orientation. Three dancers will enliven Obscurus Projectum, an artwork by Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder, from inside the Kanbar Forum as well as within the image projected by the obscura on the Forum's big screen. Through symmetrical movements, light-directing mirrors, and streamers that extend the dancers figures, the performance will playfully highlight the optical magic of the camera obscura.

Light Music by Lis Rhodes
1:30 p.m.
Kanbar Forum

Move throughout the space and see your shadow emerge as a player in British filmmaker Lis Rhodes’ essential, expanded cinema work. Using two 16mm projectors facing off in a hazy room, Light Music reveals intersecting patterns meant to be viewed and interacted with from various points in the screening space.

Dot Matrix by Richard Tuohy and Dianna Barrie
3:30 p.m.
Kanbar Forum

In this single-screen dual 16mm projection, each film contains a flicker printing of variously sized dots. The dots were produced by “rayogramming” dot screens directly onto raw film stock in a dark room. The sound you'll hear is that produced by the dots themselves.


National Endowment for the Arts

Lightplay: Festival of Light is part of the project Lightplay organized by Cinema Arts at the Exploratorium. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.