Find Your Buddy! (18 going on 4 at the Exploratorium)


It’s wet, it’s glistening, it’s whimsical, it’s Zea!

The Exploratorium is home to some of the most mind-bending allusions, objects and interactive games. It is where some of us spent hours as young children running around, laughing, and sticking our hands where they don’t belong. But recently the students of the University of San Francisco’s Independent Cinema class had a chance to explore these amazing gadgets themselves. Even as 18-year-olds surrounded by screaming 4-year-olds, the Exploratorium was still an eye-opening trip.

Here we are, Jordan Beall and Caroline Kangas, drinking out a toilet…yes…a real toilet. This was just one of the many mind games that the Exploratorium plays on its audience.


Our class was lucky enough to use the Exploratorium’s private screening room, courtesy of Liz Keim, the museums curator. We saw a variety of short, independent films done by local filmmakers, most of which were filmed with a 16mm camera.

The firs film we saw was ‘Zea’ (1981) The beginning of corns scientific name is Zea, so I suppose if you had known that you would have been able to guess what the movie was about. Consequently, this short film was in fact a close up on a corn kernel, before and after it was popped. The filmmakers had to use direct sunlight in order for it to be bright enough when they macro zoomed.

Another interesting film was Vespucciland: the Great and Free (1982) by Rock Ross. This film played with speed. It involved people dancing around a backyard, cover in toilet paper but shown in hyper-speed.

The film Panorama (1982) by Michael Rudnick plays with light, reflection and shadow. Over a period of a year, Rudnick filmed from his fourth floor apartment on Russian Hill in time-lapse.  The soundtrack accompanying this film was “wry and minimal”(The ISLE Reader) and done by Rock Ross who also filmed Vespucciland. Rudnick was inspired to make the film after his wife commented that San Francisco was dreary – he was determined to redeem his favorite city and his final product was truly successful.

All the films were very creative and not something you see every day. The Exploratorium offered a wide variety of films and a great hands-on learning experience. Everyone stayed much longer than expected because of how awesome it was. The Exploratorium free our inner child and truly made learning fun.


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