The Siren by Whitney Lynn (2019)

In The Siren, a mermaid-costumed protagonist anxiously scales the crumbling remains of a graffiti-covered bunker, perched precariously on a coastal cliff known as Devil's Slide. As a low frequency audio score rumbles, the "siren" struggles to gain footing, bound by a garment that combines an image of kitsch seduction with an unsettling vulnerability. The Sirens—before popular culture imagination transformed them into seductresses—offered the lure of knowledge and specifically the lure of knowing all that had happened on both sides of the war in the Ancient Greek epic poem the Odyssey. For the last seven years Whitney Lynn’s conceptual practice has focused on the idea of traps. Beginning with devices designed to deceive in order to apprehend, such as fishing lures and hunting decoys, the work eventually morphed to deal with historical and mythological femme fatales. In her newest project this interest has manifested in investigations of Sirens, both the creatures from Classical antiquity and the modern apparatus for signaling impending danger.


Whitney Lynn employs expanded forms of sculpture, performance, photography, video, and drawing in her project-based work. Mining cultural and political histories, she reframes familiar narratives to question dynamics of power. Recent investigations examine the archetype of the femme fatale, perceptual traps, and the subversive potential of floral art. Lynn's work has been exhibited internationally and she has created site-responsive public art for the San Diego International Airport, the San Francisco War Memorial Building, and the Reno City Hall Lobby. She is currently working on a project that will be installed alongside the Burke-Gilman Trail in Seattle. She received her BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Lynn started teaching at the University of Washington in 2018. She previously taught at Stanford University, the San Francisco Art Institute, and the University of California, Berkeley.


Spells I (Power Cord, Candle, Ball, Mirror, Hand of Glory, Salt) by Jennifer Locke (2020)


Six technologically manipulated actions intended to:

1. Trap electricity
2. Loop time
3. Levitate
4. Reverse looking
5. Temporarily immobilize the viewer
6. Dematerialize/rematerialize


Working primarily in performance and video, Jennifer Locke composes physically intense actions in relation to the camera, audience, and specific architecture. Within this framework, she explores viewing structures—redistributing hierarchies between artist, model, camera, and audience—in order to explore spectatorship and the construction of meaning. Her actions focus on cycles of duration and draw from her experiences as a dominatrix, wrestler, and artists’ model. Locke has exhibited extensively, both locally and internationally. She received her BFA (1991) and her MFA (2006) from the San Francisco Art Institute and is currently the chair of SFAI’s New Genres Department.


Scene I Am Cuba by Felipe Dulzaides (2006)


I Am Cuba—“Soy Cuba” in Spanish; “Ya Kuba” in Russian—is a Soviet/Cuban film produced in 1964 by director Mikhail Kalatozov at Mosfilm. The movie was not well received by the Russian or Cuban public and was almost completely forgotten until its rediscovery thirty years later by American filmmakers. The movie’s acrobatic tracking shots and idiosyncratic mise-en-scène prompted Hollywood directors like Martin Scorsese to campaign to restore the movie in the early 1990s. In 2006, Dulzaides traveled to Cuba to remake a small part of the film which became Scene I Am Cuba, a two-fold narrative in which one storyline is based on a real event, and the other is the process of turning evidence into the theatrical.


Felipe Dulzaides studied drama at the Instituto Superior de Arte of Havana and received an MFA in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute. A poetic and metaphoric sensibility underlies his practice, which ranges from single-channel videos to video installations and documentaries. Some of his works begin with actions executed for the camera; others use autobiographical experiences to illustrate the emotional stress of cultural displacement or to reveal memory as an unstable process of endless revision. Dulzaides oscillates between his American and Cuban identities, and he views his bicultural background as a bridge. He has received prestigious awards from the Cintas Fellowship, Creative Work Fund, Art Matters, and the Rome Prize among others and his work has been included in biennials, museums, contemporary galleries and art centers around the world.

This screening is curated from the KADIST collection.


Bull in the Ring by Shaun Leonardo (2008)


In Leonardo's 2008 installation and performance piece, Bull in the Ring, the artist and 10 semi-pro football players perform a banned training routine that was commonly practiced in high school and college level American football teams. In the routine, the team forms a revolving circle around one player (the matador) who waits in the center of the ring. The coach selects other players (the bulls) to charge at the player in the center, often catching him off-guard and delivering a strong blow. Leonardo had been practicing this training routine since he was 12 years old and through the Bull in the Ring performance Leonardo explores the pressures young men have to face and conform to in order to prove their toughness.


Shaun Leonardo’s multidisciplinary work negotiates societal expectations of manhood, namely definitions surrounding black and brown masculinities, along with notions of achievement, collective identity, and experience of failure. His performance practice, anchored by his work in Assembly–a diversion program for court-involved youth at the Brooklyn-based, non-profit Recess, is participatory and invested in a process of embodiment. Leonardo is a Brooklyn-based artist from Queens, New York, and received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. From 2018 to 2020, Leonardo enacted socially engaged projects at Pratt Institute’s School of Art as a Visiting Fellow.

This screening is curated from the KADIST collection.


Storm and Stress by Doug Hall (1986)


Displays of violent weather conditions, electrical storms, tornados, floods, fires and other eruptions are contrasted and equated with equally awe-inspiring images of technology that harnesses or mimics nature. Pitting the specter of nature against technology in time-lapsed images, this thoughtful and stirring work paints a portrait of the encounter between the human-made and the natural—between that which is within our power to control and that which is not.


Doug Hall is an internationally known artist who has worked for over 40 years in a wide range of media, including performance, installation, video, and large format photography. In the 1970s he became known for his collaborative work with the media art collective, T. R. Uthco, which, among many other works, created the video and installation, The Eternal Frame, 1976 (in collaboration with the art collective Ant Farm), a reenactment of the Kennedy assassination, filmed in Dealey Plaza, Dallas. Following the dissolution of the group in 1979, Hall continued to work in video, performance, and installation. He is Professor Emeritus at San Francisco Art Institute where he taught from 1980 until 2008. From 2008 through 2015 he was a Visiting Artist in Graduate Fine Arts at the California College of the Arts, San Francisco.


Ice Makes Fire by Paul Kos (1974)


Ice is fashioned into a magnifying lens and used to start a fire. This short but fascinating ode to human inventiveness was created in 1974 and restaged in 2004. Paul Kos translates a well-known instruction from a survival manual into video: If there is no magnifying glass around to light kindling, try making fire with ice.


Born in 1942 in Rock Springs, Wyoming, Paul Kos attended San Francisco Art Institute, receiving his BFA (1965) and MFA (1967). Kos was central to the Bay Area Conceptual Art Movement, working in a materials-based practice, bringing together imagery of landscape with precepts of socialist ideals and the “Everyman.” Since the early 1970s Kos’s work has challenged conventions of art media and subject matter. For a global audience, he staged new possibilities for artistic treatments of time, space and cultural systems. Kos was influential to many students at SFAI where he taught and was a key figure in the development of its New Genres program.


Fuck You Purdue by Howard Fried (1971)


Fuck You Perdue is a dialogue between two confined people whose life spaces overlap, and refers to Fried’s brother Billy, whose drill instructors in the Marines were called Purdue and Ward. In this work their sole verbal exchanges when off-duty were restricted to the words in the title.


A major figure in Conceptual Art in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1970, Howard Fried became known for his performance, video, film, and sculptural installations. Exploratory in nature, Fried's work reflects an interest in decision making and how information is perceived and read. His highly composed and edited videos are characterized by his attention to the role of time sequences, camera perspectives, and spatial and semiotic relationships. Based in the Bay Area since 1967, Fried received his B.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1968 and his M.F.A. from the University of California at Davis in 1970. He founded the Performance/Video department (now New Genres) at the San Francisco Art Institute.

Special thanks to Christine Varney from The Box in Los Angeles, CA.



From The Tower: Transmission can be seen live every Friday night starting at 9pm PST, from sites throughout North Beach or here via a special live stream feed.

Check out this map of vantage points around North Beach and Russian Hill if you plan to see the show in person. Before each screening, tune into the radio channel projected on the Tower to experience the live FM audio stream.

About Tony Labat

Tony Labat was born in Havana Cuba and came to the United States at the age of fifteen in 1966. He received both a B.F.A. and an M.F.A. from San Francisco Art Institute. He has exhibited internationally over the last thirty years. Labat has received numerous awards and grants and his work is held by many private and public collections. Labat works in performance, video, sculpture, and installation, investigating the body, popular culture, identity, urban relations, politics, and the media.


From the Tower is an exhibition series that explores artworks, images, objects, and stories living within the archives of the San Francisco Art Institute. Housed in the historic Tower of the 800 Chestnut Street campus and unique in its scope, the archive contains a vast store of primary source materials and objects whose creators range from bygone students to contemporary art superstars. Explorers of the archive—those willing to climb the levels of the tower in search of buried histories—will find unusual treasures from art worlds past and present, and visions of potential futures. Past exhibitions have brought SFAI’s archive into view and conversation with contemporary inquiries and include From the Tower: Andy Warhol and From the Tower: Queer Histories.

About the San Francisco Art Institute

Founded in 1871 by artists and community leaders with a cultural vision for the West, the SanFrancisco Art Institute—first as a cultural center and then a fine arts college—has producedgenerations of creative leaders who have challenged convention and shaped the cultural life of the Bay Area, the United States, and the world. Artists at SFAI have spearheaded art movements including fine art photography, the Beat movement, Abstract Expressionism, Bay Area Figuration, Funk art, avant-garde film, Conceptualism, and video and performance art, and they continue to help define contemporary art and the role of artists in today’s global society. Notable faculty and alumni—both art world-celebrated and less widely known—include Ansel Adams, Aziz + Cucher, Bill Berkson, Kathryn Bigelow, Elmer Bischoff, Stan Brakhage, Iona Rozeal Brown, Joan Brown, Nao Bustamante, Enrique Chagoya, Dewey Crumpler, Imogen Cunningham, Angela Davis, Jay DeFeo, Richard Diebenkorn, Kota Ezawa, Karen Finley, Maria Elena Gonzalez, Doug Hall, Mike Henderson, Harlan Jackson, David Johnson, Toba Khedoori, Margaret Kilgallen, Paul Kos, George Kuchar, Tony Labat, Annie Leibovitz, Shaun Leonardo, Sharon Lockhart, Cristobal Martinez, Una McCann, Alicia McCarthy, Barry McGee, Manuel Neri, Ruby Neri, Richard Olsen, Catherine Opie, David Park, Man Ray, Rigo 23, Mark Rothko, Katrín Sigurdardóttir, Clyfford Still, Carlos Villa, Kehinde Wiley and Pamela Z.

Today, approaching its 150th anniversary, SFAI engages a local, national and internationalcommunity through its public galleries; lectures and symposia; library and archives; publiceducation classes; youth programs in underserved communities; and space-sharing andpartnerships with other institutions, in addition to degree-granting programs.