Few technological advances of the last millennium have affected art and culture as much as Johann Gutenberg's invention of a printing press with movable type. Still, in the past century, technology has given rise to a similar advance in the arts. Video freed the photographer and the painter from still images; the record liberated the singer from the stage; the word processor emancipated the writer from the typewriter. As each full-tech-ahead advance supplants the last, artists find themselves at a crossroads where options increasingly outnumber limitations.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Kala Art Institute assembles four gallery exhibitions and an all-day symposium on the future of art in "High Touch/High Tech: Making Art in the 21st Century." As new categories of artists sprout as soon as a technology makes them possible, Kala inquires into the artistic climate of today, even as it probes the questions that have plagued artists and others since the time of the first cave painting. Saturday's all-day symposium brings together cutting-edge new media mavericks, museum and gallery directors, and traditional artists trying out new techniques in a series of presentations. The symposium runs from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with a reception to follow, at the Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak (at 10th Street), Oakland. The program wraps up with a discussion and art demonstrations Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at the Kala Art Institute, 1060 Heinz (at San Pablo), Berkeley. Tickets are $50-60; call (510) 549-2977.
"High Touch/High Tech" artists' works will be shown in the Kala Art Institute Gallery through May 26 and at the adjoining JFK University Art Annex (2956 San Pablo; 510/649-0499) over the weekend only, with a reception held at Kala Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. In San Francisco, Space 743 (743 Harrison; 777-9080) shows works through April 22, while Refusalon (20 Hawthorne; 546-0158) displays future-looking artists' works through April 29; "First Thursday" receptions will be held at both S.F. galleries from 5 to 8 p.m.