What is the Difference Between Choosing and Being Chosen?

Image courtesy Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco.

In the classic joke, a man asks a rabbi: “Why do Jews always answer a question with a question?” The rabbi answers: “Do we?”

Bay Area artists Ken Goldberg and Gil Gershoni present a contemporary take on the inquisitive impulse with a new media installation at the San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum now through July 31, 2011.

Are We There Yet? combines the latest in intelligent cameras and acoustics to create a reactive sound environment that encourages visitors to reconsider the history and future of curiosity. The ability of the installation to generate a unique auditory experience for each visitor is an exciting first, using new robotic algorithms and software that allow cameras to instantly adapt and spatialize audio to the movements of each visitor.

Hundreds of questions have been gleaned from sources including the Torah, literature and popular culture. Visitors to the gallery will also be able to propose new questions and see questions displayed via custom iPad-based kiosks with video animation.

The Are We There Yet? exhibit is located in the Museum’s soaring Yud Gallery. The Yud acknowledges the 2nd Commandment, which forbids the creation of idols and representational images. The space emphasizes the auditory over the visual and is linked with Kabalistic symbolism. This unorthodox environment led artists Goldberg and Gershoni to think about interactions between embodied movement, auditory perception and the process of questioning.

Taking full advantage of social media tools, the exhibit is not only on Facebook, but a fun, interactive iPad/iPod/iPhone app is available.

More exhibit information is available at are-we-there-yet.org.