In January, artists Ellen Sebastian Chang and Maya Gurantz covertly installed a video-chat portal between Cole Hardware on College Avenue in Berkeley and Youth Employment Partnership on International Boulevard in East Oakland for a project called A Hole in Space (Oakland Redux). They set up cameras, speakers, and projectors so that the storefront windows of each location functioned as a platform for real-time conversations. Their intention was to collapse the space between the two neighborhoods in order to bring pedestrians face-to-face with fellow East Bay residents that they likely would never talk to. Chang and Gurantz told no one, hoping that pedestrians would simply stumble upon the installation — and that's what happened. The project was a reinterpretation of a previous piece done in 1980 that used the same premise to connect pedestrians in New York City with their Los Angeles counterparts, but it has still been one of the most innovative and relevant art pieces of the year, touching on race and class dynamics, gentrification, technology, and the increasing rarity of people's willingness to step out of their comfort zones.
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