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Playing God

Commissioned by the Contemporary Jewish Museum San Francisco
June 8, 2008 to January 4, 2009

The exhibition pairs seven new artist commissions with a range of historically important works by Marc Chagall, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and others in order to explore our changing understanding of the story of creation as depicted in Genesis Chapter 1. 736 Mission Street (between Third and Fourth streets) San Francisco, CA 94103 Open daily (except Wednesday): 11 AM- 5:30 PM, Thursday: 1 PM - 8:30 PM.

Alan Berliner creates films and installations that are witty while also providing opportunities for deep thought and consciousness raising. For this project, you are invited to stand at the console and play Berliner’s seven-screen slot-machine-like game. Each of the seven monitors contains a rapid-fire montage of all 837 words contained in the story of creation in Genesis.

Press the green button to start the flow of words.
Press the red button to freeze the words.

Unique haiku-like phrases from the scrambled text of Genesis appear across the seven monitors. There are different ways to win the game, and you will be rewarded:

When the word God appears on the screen
When there are direct quotations from Genesis
When the numbered days of creation (first day, second day…)
show up on their corresponding monitors.

"Part game of chance, part cinematic toy, part biblical commentary, Playing God," says Berliner, "mines the opening chapters of Genesis (the story of the seven days of creation) to reveal a universe of significance, meaning, and contemporary relevance hidden inside the text." Reassembling the language of Genesis into a wide range of poetically evocative phrases juxtaposed with an eclectic landscape of video imagery—from the beauty of nature to historical and contemporary political and social environments—Playing God is a reflection on the role that human beings have played as God’s proxy, with better and worse consequences.