Watching the Act of Watching

Artist Carrie Hott wants us to pay attention to the tools that help us pay attention. Which is to say, she wants us to observe the act of observing. She also wants us to see what’s being observed, which in the case of her latest installation is whales. “Understanding a Whale Fall/Whale Watch” is a multi-part exhibition at Adobe Bookshop. The first part, located in Adobe’s Backroom Gallery, centers on a “whale fall,” which is when a whale dies in deep water and its carcass sinks to the ocean floor. This part of the installation includes the desk of a person who has been studying a whale fall, which can result in food for certain ocean dwellers for as long as 100 years. It contains not only Hott’s artwork of whales but also a newspaper article, various documents, a lamp, a coffee mug, and the observer’s personal notes. Hott says she intended the desk to represent the actions of a layperson rather than a marine biologist or other professional. Adobe’s front windows contain the “Whale Watch” portion of the exhibit. This includes more of Hott’s artwork as well as the tools used to watch whales, such as binoculars and a telescope. The installation has a participatory component in log books that are located throughout the bookstore, Hott says. People can add their own personal knowledge or experience with the large sea mammals. Hott says it’s a way to complement her knowledge of whales and archive parts of San Francisco’s past that have otherwise eluded historians. The opening reception starts at 7 p.m. on Sept. 30; the exhibit continues through Nov. 6.
Sept. 30-Nov. 6, 7 p.m., 2010

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