Alan Macy's "Reincarnation."
Paul Wellman

If you ventured into downtown Santa Barbara last week during the height of Old Spanish Days, you probably did the State Street shuffle past cascaronés-sellers, swayed to the music of a mariachi band, and the felt the hive-like buzz of El Mercado De la Guerra. But you might have missed a parallel party going down close to the heart of it all.

Luckily, it’s not too late. Standard Deviation runs through this Wednesday, August 8. Occupying the late Peace Store at 740 State Street, it too is a vibrant and short-lived celebration of local culture. Curators Ted Mills and Marco Pinter have made creative use of the empty storefront by drawing together a range of low- and hi-tech art, much of which welcomes interaction and deals with the theme of change over time.

Right inside the door, Pinter and Morgan De Lucia’s “Bisections” invites viewers to alter the movements of four wall-mounted aluminum boxes that rotate periodically. A few more steps inside the cavernous space, you can take a seat in a red velvet chair and experience “Reincarnation,” Alan Macy’s trippy blend of ECG monitors and amplification. Nearby, Macy’s “Vivisection” uses sensors to capture changes in the immediate environment and project them onto a television screen; passersby can star in their own psychedelic show.

Nebula Dance Lab
Paul Wellman

At Thursday night’s unveiling, the bar was open, the DJ was spinning, and dancers of Nebula Dance Lab performed a sweeping, surging excerpt from Emily Tatomer’s new work “Snapshots.” A few minutes later, I noticed one young man lying supine in a pool of light, an unidentifiable device resting on his chest. When the device let off a whirr and rose into the air above him, he rose too and began to dance with it — reaching for it, then drawing away, then tugging it through the air. This apparent solo was actually an improvised collaboration between performer Tim Wood and media artist Marcos Novak, who controlled the motion of the quadcopter.

At the back of the gallery, visitors will find a constant buzz of activity. Artists Jon Smith and Ethan Turpin recently stumbled across a giant beehive, which they saw as something to study rather than flee. Enduring smoke and stings, they captured close-up digital video footage of the bees busily crawling the hive’s exterior. Pairing image with sound, they’ve projected their film on to the frosted glass doors of the Peace Store changing rooms, which just happen to be hexagonal and yellow. Step into one of these cells, and it’s as if you’ve entered the hive yourself. Leave the door unlocked, and you might even get some company. To learn more, visit


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