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Art for Not-Dummies

Every couple of years San Jose hosts one of the world’s largest and smartest arts festivals, shot through with a distinctively Silicon Valley sensibility. This fall’s ZERO1 Biennial expands to 46 venues, with two dozen works—including the three shown here—on exhibit at the Garage, the festival’s new headquarters.


At first glance, stock charts may resemble mountain ranges. Yet even Mount Aconcagua in Argentina isn’t nearly as vertiginous as the NASDAQ has been over the past few decades. Photographer Michael Najjar has tweaked his pictures of the southern Andes to show how they would look if their geology were as rough and tumble as the stock market, evoking just how disconnected economics is from nature.


How hard can it be to make a $6 toaster? Thomas Thwaites’s quest to build one from scratch included digging ore from a defunct mine and trying to refine his own plastic. The results aren’t pretty.


Eduardo Kac has synthesized dozens of odorants and arranged them on the pages of a book under ultrathin sheets of porous glass. Read with the nose, his “poems” are as pungent as emotions.