What’s Happening in East Bay Art

Our critics weigh in on local exhibits.

For complete, up-to-date East Bay art listings, look under Billboard on the home page for the “Select Category” pulldown, then select “Art Galleries” or “Museums.”

No Place Like Home — Pop psychology says we are destined to reenact formative traumas, but Alex Munn’s take on eternal return seems a little Unreal. The former video-game designer created a first-person-shooter-style 3-D model of his childhood home and placed it inside a stand-up arcade game, where viewers can use a joystick and trackball to wander around inside his past. The point of view is only a few feet off the ground, as he was but seven when he lived in this quaint, three-story suburban home in rural Illinois. Relying on memory, photographs, and a site visit, Munn spent three months this year coding birthday cakes in the dining room and presents under the Christmas tree. You can jump on his bed, and play in the backyard. But something remains off. Munn sets the scene around midnight, and there are distinctly no people or sounds. A Resident Evil-esque foreboding emanates from these gray and green hallways, especially up the stairs to the sick room, full of IV drips and pain meds. Turns out, Munn was seven the year his mother succumbed to cancer. It was the last year home was truly Home. Though his family intends to sell the property, it will obviously continue to haunt him, and that nightmare is now rendered in Mayan graphics and running on the Unreal 2 game engine. Incredibly novel and immensely sad. Come play the pain game for the first time, over and over again. (Through October 9 at 33 Grand Gallery, Oakland; 33Grand.com)

Viscera Sera — Explore the interface between man and machine this month at 21 Grand with new works by Tara Daly and Laura Splan. Splan’s family has a background in the medical-supply and body-modification industry, which might explain the super-gross, yet always infatuating “Underneath” series. Large color photo close-ups of human skin appear tattooed with what looks like henna crossed with engineering blueprints — maps with arrows and dotted lines like a crafts project. Cut here. Attach here. Awesome. Splan complements the autopsy guides with a pile of fresh cosmetic facial peels and some video of plastic surgeries, while artist Daly goes nuts with the sculpture of hundreds of sperm and insects swirling toward drains, and crawling out of holes. The antiseptic white walls of the gallery are alive this month with filthy things mid-metamorphosis. If only Nine Inch Nails videos were still this good. (Through September 30 at 416 25th St., Oakland; 21Grand.org)

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