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Originally published November 20, 2009 at 12:02 AM | Page modified January 8, 2010 at 5:37 PM

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'Gelatine Lux' at EMP/SFM shows wonders of the sea and imagination made of glass

Maria Grazia Rosin's art installation "Gelatine Lux" — a little piece of underwater Venice, rendered in glass and sound and light — makes its way to Seattle's Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum.

Seattle Times arts writer

Exhibit review

'Gelatine Lux'

Glass-video-sound installation by Maria Grazia Rosin, opens noon Saturday, runs 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. First Thursdays, through April 11, 2010, Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum, 325 Fifth Ave. N., Seattle; $12-$15, free on First Thursdays between 5 and 8 p.m. (206-770-2702 or www.empsfm.org).

If you want to submerge yourself in a Venetian lagoon, you need go no farther than Lower Queen Anne.

"Gelatine Lux," an installation dreamed up by Italian artist Maria Grazia Rosin, opens Saturday at Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum. It's a subaquatic experience in glass, light and sound — and you don't need scuba gear to explore it.

Rosin, based in the glassmaking center of Murano, began working with glass in the early 1990s. The 20 pieces on display in "Gelatine Lux" — one in a series of installations by that title — are the fruit of her collaboration with Murano master glassblowers Pino Signoretto, Silvano Signoretto, Sergio Tiozzo and Andrea Zilio. They range from recognizable creatures — an octopus, a Portuguese man-of-war — to more hybrid creations composed of pseudopods, crustacean claws and other bits and pieces. Rosin seems to have a special fondness for glowing eyes at the end of inquiring tentacles.

Her underwater menagerie hangs from the ceiling of a dim grottolike room, where building ventilation makes each piece sway slightly. The colors range from red to green to blue to translucent silver. Each speckled fluid form is lit from both without and within, with LED and fiber-optic lighting making the "critters" glow in the dark.

Rosin isn't content to rely on visuals alone. There's a soundtrack for "Gelatine Lux," created by an outfit called Visnadi & Camomatic (Gianni Visnadi and David Mora), and it adds considerably to the atmosphere. Ambient background drone is punctuated by computer-generated underwater sounds, some of them mimicking nature — whale song, dolphin chatter, a sea lion's phlegmy snort and snuffle — while others, such as sonar beeps, are clearly electro-synthetic.

The best way to take in "Gelatine Lux" ("gelatinous light") is simply to sit on one of the three benches at the center of it and feel the sound come at you from all directions, as you let yourself be fooled by the way that brittle glass forms can seem to ripple at the slightest breath of air.

There's a video component, too: "Black Water Hole," a whirlpool/black-hole projection, created by Rosin and Andrew Quinn, "swallowing up" a section of floor as you enter the grotto.

But it's Rosin's murky creatures, with their mix of close natural observation and artistic whimsy, that have the strongest presence here.

Michael Upchurch: mupchurch@seattletimes.com

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