July 10, 2002

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'Seeing'
Through Jan. 31, 2003, Exploratorium

MORE THAN 70 installations, some brand-new and some updated favorites, populate this long-awaited Exploratorium extravaganza. Making heavy use of touch screens and other kinds of new computer technology, it's much more multimedia-intensive than the Exploratorium's usual fare and sophisticated enough to engage adults and kids alike. The title of the show may be "Seeing," but you'll probably be most surprised at what you don't see in some of the installations. Change Blindness is a huge computer screen showing a quiet storefront-sidewalk scene. Every few seconds the screen goes black for a moment, then flashes back at what appears to be the same picture. It's actually changing significantly each time, but the intervening black screens prevent your eyes from perceiving the differences. Similarly uncanny is the basketball movie Count the Bounces. If you follow the instructions and keep your eyes on the white-shirted team, you'll never see a big black gorilla wander onto the court. (Gorilla blindness ... who knew?) Dozens of other installations explore the social aspects of seeing. Paul Kaiser's Inkblot Perceptions analyzes the ways in which interpretations of Rorschach-like blots vary with age and cultural background, and the Eye Curiosity Shop showcases all kinds of eye-related art, including a collection of 19th-century hand-blown glass eyes. There's also an entire gallery full of sculptures by Judith Scott, a resident artist at the Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland whose work has appeared in major museums all over the world. Numerous seeing-related films, lectures, and special events will take place during July and August; go to www.exploratorium.edu for complete information. Thurs.-Tues., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Wed., 10 a.m.-9 p.m., 3601 Lyon, S.F. $10, $7.50 students and seniors, $6 youths. (415) EXP-LORE. (Lindsey Westbrook)