Few books unmoor meaning from objects as craftily as David Macaulay's 1979 book, Motel of the Mysteries (Houghton Mifflin). Purportedly written in A.D. 4022, this illustrated account catalogs an archaeological discovery of a long-buried, late-20th-century motel. Wryly misreading the intention and function of everyday household items such as "Do Not Disturb" signs dangling from doorknobs and the "Sanitized for Your Protection" strips that gird toilet seats, Motel of the Mysteries reaffirms the fragility of interpretation: In a few sentences, overlooked, ordinary objects can become sacred totems, or something else entirely.

Randy Moss states that his sound and video installation, Dislocator, "operates like an ultrasound system used for prenatal imaging. It uses high-frequency sound waves to measure a visitor's position and then produces an image interpreting these measurements. This image functions as a lens through which the visitor views her presence in a shifting landscape evocative of a forming human embryo."

Alternately, Dislocator's oblong video screen and red dot bouncing within a large flickering white pupil suggest an altar (or a basic star chart) reconstructed from inscrutable interstellar transmissions partially decrypted here on Earth into thrumming sine tones, a scraping, almost scabby, whoosh-whoosh-whoosh sound, and the soft ticking of plastic beads. Or maybe the Bauhaus never left Dessau and made a music video plucked from an alternate future where jazz and the blues never happened. Intended to be experienced one person at a time, perhaps Dislocator presages a time when an all-seeing, computerized Divinity watches us, secretly calibrating our world, and responding perceptibly enough to make us think it loves us. Or maybe I just really liked it.

Dislocator runs through Fri May 28 (Jack Straw Productions, 4261 Roosevelt Way NE, 634-0919), Mon-Fri 9 am-6 pm, free.

chris@delaurenti.net

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