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The DAM's Blink! exhibit is a great way to get the kids out of your face on Spring Break

Walking into the Denver Art Museum's current Blink! exhibit is kind of like walking into Willie Wonka's chocolate factory (except far less dangerous to children with slack morals): There's just a whole lot going on, and you really have no idea what most of it is or what you're supposed to make of it, but it's pretty wondrous to look at all the same. Set up around works of art that involve electronics and technology (animation is a pretty big component of it), the exhibit is by turns surprising, confusing and occasionally disturbing, but if there's one constant, it's that it will not fail at every turn to make you go, "coooool."

It's also -- although it opened last week -- pretty much tailor-made for spring break; I took my 8-year-old son Avry (who observed that the exterior of the Hamilton Building "looks kind of like kryptonite. You know," he clarified, "superman's weakness") today to look around, and before either of us knew it, we'd killed a few hours there -- not that that would be unintentional on the DAM's part. The museum seems well aware that you want to see some stuff that's nice to look at this week, sure, but possibly even more than that, you want your otherwise unoccupied kids to not be directly in your face for just a little while.

Kids, of course, love cartoons, and there are a lot of cartoons here -- some of them kind of disturbing, yes (and Avry's kind of a weird kid, but he loved Phillipe Grammiticiopoulas's 16-minute short "Les Ventres," featuring giant identical fat men graphically eating tiny identical fat men, for example), and certainly none of them Tom & Jerry, but cartoons nonetheless - along with plenty of activities to keep them busy, and the art itself, which is uniformly, uh, well, there's just no other word for it really than "neat-o."

Charles Sandison's "Chamber," a ten-channel video production installation that enveloped the whole large room it occupied in 8-bit pixels and nonsense streams of random words.
Charles Sandison's "Chamber," a ten-channel video production installation that enveloped the whole large room it occupied in 8-bit pixels and nonsense streams of random words.
Nam Jun Paik's "Lady Secretary, Blingual, Will Travel" looks like something out of Max Headroom.
Nam Jun Paik's "Lady Secretary, Blingual, Will Travel" looks like something out of Max Headroom.
A particularly unsettling one, Tony Oursler's "Zero" projected a video face -- yelling vaguely schizophrenic remarks -- onto what looked like a voodoo doll.
A particularly unsettling one, Tony Oursler's "Zero" projected a video face -- yelling vaguely schizophrenic remarks -- onto what looked like a voodoo doll.

 

Local artist Mark Amerika on war: 18 televisions, face up, projecting solid colors and intervals with a soundrack of iconic clips and music from war movies. Immersive, and pretty eerie.
Local artist Mark Amerika on war: 18 televisions, face up, projecting solid colors and intervals with a soundrack of iconic clips and music from war movies. Immersive, and pretty eerie.
The iconic Alan Rath, ladies and gentlemen. The DAM has a couple of these, and they kind of reminded me of that Onion article recently about Apple releasing a hideous, living iBook.
The iconic Alan Rath, ladies and gentlemen. The DAM has a couple of these, and they kind of reminded me of that Onion article recently about Apple releasing a hideous, living iBook.
Avry checks out the submersible-looking DJ booth.
Avry checks out the submersible-looking DJ booth.
What he's looking at.
What he's looking at.

As for Avry, his favorite part -- besides the Animation Station where he got to draw a flip-book of "a UFO landing," -- was probably Golan Levin's "Insterstatial Fragment Processor," which is a lot less boring than it sounds: it's a video projection on a wall that turns the negative space of your shadow into solid shards and then lets them fall with casino sound-effect; it's hard to explain, but it's kind of like an 8-bit video game that you play with your body. And like all great interactive art, it's truly fun to mess around with. "How does it work?" I heard one kid ask Avry -- but Avry knew that kid was missing the point.

"I don't know," he answered. "It just does."

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