Invisible Choirs is an exhibition of new kinetic sculptures and new media work by Bay Area artist, Nolan Lem.  The works in the exhibition question the relationship between technological modes of production and physical labor, visibility and identity, autonomy and monotony.  

Several of the works incorporate or emulate Artificial Intelligence, commenting on its less-than-utopian function in our lives. Engine Errors / Self Portrait applies a specific type of visual neural network (sparse autoencoder) to a dataset of faces of Chinese engineers to teach the computer how to reproduce portraits. By treating the applied process as a medium in itself, these digital renderings illustrate how an AI can be used as a self-fulfilling form of erasure.

__lights__/saved by the bells is composed of several panels of light switches affixed to small triggers/bells. In this piece, the gestural movement of the switches suggests a strange communicative language that subverts the traditional utility of the switch as a responsive object for human action.  

rock and roll periodically sets in motion an array of large river rocks that literally rock and roll atop a reciprocating platform to create a dense composition of sonic mass. The rocks symbolize the weights in the network that are tuned and adjusted throughout the course of the network learning process.


Nolan Lem is an artist and researcher whose work reflects a broad range of influences and mediums. His sound-based work examines issues related to emergent dynamics, psychophysics, and the synchronization of auditory phenomena.

Lem has premiered work at the Hayden Planetarium at the Natural History Museum, Pioneer Works Center for Art and Innovation, Pro Arts Gallery, The Wallach Gallery, Spencer Art Museum, and the NIME (New Interfaces for Musical Expression) Conference among others. He has held residencies at MassMoCA, Pioneer Works, and Signal Culture. He has received commissions from the West Harlem Art Fund, the Hall Center for the Humanities, and the National Science Foundation (NSF). He holds degrees in saxophone performance, Electrical Engineering, and received his MFA at Columbia University where he studied at the Computer Music Center.

Lem is currently a PhD candidate at Stanford University where he studies at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) .


Opening Reception: Friday, November 3, 2017, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Nolan Lem: New Work exhibition is funded in part by generous grants from The Zellerbach Family Foundation and The Fleishhacker Foundation.