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Friday, June 24, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Coca Show Explores World Of Modem Art

Art exhibit

"Random Access: An Exhibition of High Tech Art," Center On Contemporary Art, 1309 First Ave. Saturday through Aug. 13. Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Admission $3; $5 opening night at 8. COCA members free. 682-4568. -----------------------------------------------------------------

Artists from Paris, Los Angeles, New York, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma and Richland have assembled a wild panoply of sculptural electronic equipment in "Random Access," a new exhibition opening tomorrow night at Center On Contemporary Art.

Curators Janet and Edward Galore have sought out and commissioned works by 16 artists who bring humor and mystery to such arcane gadgets as light-seeking sensors, contact microphones, magnetic resonance imagers, surveillance cameras, and ultrasonic proximity detectors.

Mix those with stainless steel, chromium, alabaster, wood, glass, fluorescent tubes, paint and some wacky 1970s recycled track lighting and you get a picture of the innovative and interactive sculptures, videotapes and installations on view.

Janet Galore majored in mathematics at the University of Washington, where her husband is a computer systems administrator.

Curatorial debut

Both make their official curatorial debut with "Random Access," and one hopes they will make many more contributions to the Seattle art scene. The results so far are fascinating, perplexing and indicative of a very real trend in contemporary art: dealing with the latest technologies in creative ways.

Give it time. If you are attentive and patient, some marvelously disconcerting things may happen to you. Electric outlets are actually spy microphones in David Galbraith's and Teresa Seaman's "infrastructures." You can play music without touching a single instrument in Einar Ask's "Speaking Orbs." You can watch and participate with interactive pornographic videotapes in Clair Colquitt's "SimSex Arcade."

`Slugs' and other things

And that's only the beginning. Bruce Cannon has mimicked the "eyestalk of slugs" with his three BMW antennae connected to sensors and motors. Dan Senn created the most beautiful sculpture on view, "Plate Tech Tonics," a kind of electronic lyre that, again, is activated and performs simply by viewer proximity.

And French-born Patrice Caire displays the strangest self-portrait ever executed, manipulated videotapes of an MRI film of her brain. Composer Pierre Vasseur contributed a musical accompaniment. She also got help from Andy Kopra, who did special effects for "Terminator 2." Look out!

Other works by the Bain twins of L.A., the ubiquitous nuclear-power artist James L. Acord, and UW tekkies Joel Kollin and Holly Bine round out the show.

Warning: I'd be real careful if I had a pacemaker. Also, don't expect or ask about a real virtual-reality setup. Too expensive. Besides, "Random Access" does something much better; it anchors technological fantasies in real objects called art. Copyright, 1994, by Matthew Kangas

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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