On its face, technology might not seem to have anything to do with Earth itself.

A new exhibit at Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art seeks to prove otherwise. “MediaLive: Subterranean,” a media arts festival, intends to open entry points into the conversation about technology and digital culture through installations, exhibits, performances, events and workshops.

It runs through May 27. A free closing reception with music by Matmos is May 22.

In its seventh year, the festival regularly changes themes. Subterranean was chosen for two reasons.

“It’s both in terms of how technologies are used in covert ways, to conceal and reveal things, particularly in today’s political climate, where we have things like WikiLeaks,” said Maya Livio, the exhibit’s curator. “Also in ways that happen under the Earth and the sort of earthly connections technology has. Technology has a connection to Earth that comes from the Earth, that’s exposed into Earth and made into e-waste.”

Works in the show reflect on the Earth, environmental concerns, and obscuring, hiding or revealing in some sense.

For one of those works, the sound-based “Urban Intonation,” artist Brian House used an ultrasound microphone to record rats living underground in New York City. Rats have sophisticated communication, though human beings would never know because it happens ultrasonically. In the recording, House shifted the rats’ pitch to mimic the pitch of a human voice that he plays through a series of loudspeakers.

“It’s like a public address made by rats,” Livio said. “It’s a very affecting, haunting sound and gives you insight into the lives of nonhuman animals. It’s using technology to make those typically inaudible sounds audible. That work isn’t so much a critique of technology, but a critique of our relationship to animals through technology, and using technology as a mechanism to expose something that is otherwise hidden.”

Another installation features an app created by Francis Marion Moseley Wilson that’s meant to encourage people to pay more homage to the dead animals we all encounter regularly, such as roadkill. The web app asks questions, such as how people felt when they saw the animal and how they think it was killed. Their answers are on display at the museum.

“People can use technology in a more positive way,” said Livio, “to pause our normal, day-to-day operations and reflect on something we try to ignore or try to not pay much attention to.”


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