Some of us might have come across the term in a crash course on quantum mechanics, but for those of you unfamiliar with "tesseract," it's the four-dimensional analog to the cube. A more attractive description issues from Madeleine L'Engle's children's novel A Wrinkle in Time, in which the tesseract becomes a shortcut for simultaneous travel through time and space for a troupe of middle-school pariahs. The seven female artists in the esoterically titled exhibition "Tesseract" may not be taking their cue from college physics or science fiction, but their exploration of childhood fantasy's creepy uncharted terrain (with detours through mythology, bondage, and fashion) is a visual reading of otherworldly occurrences. Highlights include the eerie, diaphanous photography of Kimberly Verde and Summer-Jane Bell's whimsical mixed-media sculptures. "Tesseract" runs through Aug. 31 at the Madrone Lounge, 500 Divisadero (at Fell), S.F. Admission is free; call 241-0202 or visit www.madronelounge.com.
-- Nirmala Nataraj
A Date With Dater
The image of cronelike Imogen Cunningham, clutching a camera and squinting around a tree at young, nude model Twinka, has fascinated photographers, feminists, and other thoughtful art lovers for years. It poses some questions, makes a comment or two, and looks beautiful; these are the hallmarks of its creator, Judy Dater. Since Imogen and Twinka was published in 1975, Dater has been hard at work producing more award-winning photos. Hear the artist lecture at 7:30 p.m. at the San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut (at Jones), S.F. Admission is $4-8; call 781-8111.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
A Dynamite Legacy
It's an underappreciated irony that Europe's premier explosives expert -- an engineer who invented, patented, and made a killing off dynamite -- is also the man whose name is inextricably linked to the word "peace." Although Alfred Nobel opened factories in more than 20 countries and revolutionized construction, it was one page of his much-contested will, which detailed his wishes to reward those who "conferred the greatest benefit on mankind," that cemented his legacy. The multimedia exhibit "The Nobel Prize: 100 Years of Creativity" offers a historic overview of the prize and the personal stories of 50 laureates, including artifacts such as Alexander Fleming's penicillin petri dish, Ernest Hemingway's library ticket, and Linus Pauling's paper cutouts of molecules. The exhibition opens at 10 a.m. on Thursday (and continues through Oct. 2) at the Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon (at Marina), S.F. Admission is free-$12; call 397-5673 or visit www.exploratorium.edu.
-- Michael Leaverton