A Look Back at 2018 at Gray Area

Happy New Year all! Before we announce 2019 plans, we wanted to take a moment to share Gray Area’s impact highlights of 2018. We are proud of the accomplishments we achieved with an incredibly small team. Last year, we introduced cutting edge multimedia art to more people than ever, with an unprecedented number of sold out performances, incredible showcases, and our 10th year of Gray Area combining art and technology. We do all of this work for the benefit of society, we are passionate and believe in the importance of applying art and technology for culture.

Here’s a look at some highlights of what we accomplished together in 2018. All of this wouldn’t be possible without your continued support.

Stephen Standridges’s ‘Inferno’ presented in Gray Area Showcase.

Gray Area Festival

Since its inaugural edition in 2015, the Gray Area Festival has grown to become the world’s premier event focused on art and technology for social, civic, and cultural impact. In its fourth year, the festival hosted over 50 artists with more than 2,000 people in attendance, and brought together groundbreaking speakers, educators, artists, and performers from around the world.

The festival featured a special spotlight on Blockchain and Distributed Systems, presenting the largest collection of blockchain based artworks ever assembled on the West Coast. Our Creative Development program hosted 8 workshops with teachers from all over the world, featuring topics including 3D body scanning, bio art and music visualization. A curated lineup of electronic musicians and digital artists further inspired audiences throughout the festival.

See more highlights here, and stay tuned for the announcement of Gray Area Festival 2019.

Creative Development

Electricks at Gray Area Showcase.

Last year in Creative Development, we continued to foster artistic development through creative coding, with 30 incubator members and two cohorts of students graduating from the Immersive Program. We exhibited our first combined incubator and immersive Gray Area Showcase, with over 800 people celebrating artworks that featured augmented reality walking tours, projection mapped installations, and interactive facial recognition artworks. We also launched our Incubator Artist Salon, featuring artists presenting their work to audiences of over 100 attendees. We also started an online alumni group with over 200 members, continuing to build our community.

To learn with us at Gray Area, apply for our upcoming Creative Code Workshops and Immersive Program here.

Immersive Media Grant

Interactive installation by Shihan Zhang & Qinqin Yang.

Last fall, Gray Area was awarded $155,000 from the Knight Foundation to develop a playbook for creating immersive digital art installations. In 2019, Gray Area will research this increasingly popular exhibition format, and develop case studies and lessons to be learned from this fresh model. Artists will be invited to create installations to explore the potential of immersive digital art experiences, culminating in the production of interactive, immersive art installations in the Grand Theater this December.

Read more about the Knight Foundation and the full press release here.

Recombinant Festival

For the third year, Gray Area showcased a week of cross-sensory performances with Recombinant Media Labs. The festival illustrated the artistic potential of spatial cinema and sound, through multimedia performances to over 1200 attendees by 25 local and internationally renowned musicians and multimedia artists including Herman Kolgen, Gas, Aïsha Devi, Demdike Stare, and Drew McDowall. The festival also illustrated the thriving scene of experimental art spaces in San Francisco, through partnerships with institutions such as The Lab and an inaugural show at the brand new Ohio Space.

Immersive Audiovisual Performances

Ryoji Ikeda ‘supercodex [live set] at the Grand Theater.

In 2018, Gray Area produced over 80 curated live, audiovisual events inviting international renowned, multimedia artists and performers to the San Francisco Bay Area. We kicked off the year with a sold-out performance to composer and artist Ryoji Ikeda’s computer-generated audiovisual diptych ‘supercodex [live set]’ in the Grand Theater.

Celebrating Gray Area’s 10 year anniversary, we were proud to produce the United States premiere of ‘discrete figures’ a dance technology performance by artist Daito Manabe’s Rhizomatiks Research and Choreographer MIKIKO’s ELEVENPLAY, in collaboration with artist Kyle McDonald. Inspired by Alan Turing, the performance married choreography for five dancers with machine learning technology and a stage designed for interactivity between performers, drones, virtual dancers and other objects.

Stay tuned for the announcement of Rhizomatik’s encore performance at Gray Area Spring 2019.

Daito Manabe’s Rhizomatiks x ELEVENPLAY at the Grand Theater.

Local Community Events

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at the Grand Theater.

In 2018, Gray Area supported our local community through donating $100,000 of in-kind value of the historic Grand Theater, and hosted dozens of local nonprofit fundraisers and events including El Tecolote, La Cocina, and many more. Last summer, Gray Area hosted a sold-out event welcoming Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, inviting conversation around how to create a more forward-looking approach to civic engagement and social responsibility. We also presented a sold-out screening of Human Flow, a film journey led by internationally renowned artist Ai Weiwei. We also supported a Grants for the Arts Community meeting, successfully supporting Proposition E Hotel Tax for Arts and Culture for art spaces in San Francisco.


In 2018, we supported community initiatives including Safer DIY Spaces, Zachary Watson Grant, and Living Room Light Exchange. Since Ghostship, Safer DIY Spaces has provided direct assistance to over 100 buildings and low-income arts communities threatened with displacement and unsafe conditions, primarily in Oakland. We continue to fund Zachary Watson Grant, a $5,000 education grant for artists. We are currently accepting applications through March 1, 2019.

Celebrating 10 Years

Celebrating Gray Area’s 10 year anniversary, our Executive Director Josette Melchor gave a presentation that shares much of our work from 2008–2018.

Looking Forward

We look forward to this upcoming year and the work that we’ll continue to do in bringing art and technology for culture.

We are excited to bring new digital artists and performers to the Grand Theater. Attend upcoming events at Gray Area.

We hope to inspire a new audience of digital artists by teaching artists to code for artistic expression and creative development. Learn at Gray Area.

We are excited to support artists and creative teams to develop and showcase their projects in our Incubator and Immersive programs. Create with us this year.

We hope to continue to be a space that is responsive and supported by community, and we hope to collaborate with you in the Grand Theater. Book the Grand Theater.



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Gray Area Foundation

Gray Area is a 501(c)3 nonprofit in San Francisco, CA applying art & technology to create positive social impact. #grayareaorg #creativecode