New Peephole Cinema Delights Travelers at San Francisco International Airport

San Francisco Arts Commission brings Laurie O’Brien’s celebrated Peephole Cinema to SFO’s Interim Boarding Area B

Laurie O'Brien's Peephole Cinema at SFO

SAN FRANCISCO – Travelers passing through San Francisco International Airport’s Interim Boarding Area B can view a series of silent film shorts inspired by travel and the writings of Danish author Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) through dime-sized peepholes. The installation, commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission, is the latest iteration of Laurie O’Brien’s Peephole Cinema, which includes satellite projects in Brooklyn and Los Angeles. SFO Peephole Cinema: To Travel is to Live includes six silent shorts by Signe Baumane, Kota Ezawa and Ms. O’Brien that will be on view for the next year and a half at which point a new iteration will be installed.

“We are thrilled to bring Laurie O’Brien’s Peephole Cinema to San Francisco International Airport,” said Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny, “This is the first temporary multi-media installation the Arts Commission has presented at SFO and we are confident that travelers will enjoy discovering these wonderfully creative short films as they pass through the terminal.”

“This is the first temporary multi-media installation the Arts Commission has presented at SFO and we are confident that travelers will enjoy discovering these wonderfully creative short films as they pass through the terminal.”

"The temporary Boarding Area B is an important step in our transformation of Terminal 1, and we are excited to feature this installation in the interim facility," said Airport Director Ivar C. Satero. "Public art is an integral part of our airport’s identity; it elevates the travel experience and provides a sense of place to our facilities. We thank the San Francisco Arts Commission for this inspiring work."

In 1891, Thomas Edison with the help of William Dickson created the kinetoscope, a large wooden box that when peered into through an eye-sized hole revealed a short motion picture. With the invention of the film projector, movie viewing evolved from a solitary activity into a social experience that gave rise to modern-day movie theaters. O’Brien’s playful SFO Peephole Cinema: To Travel is to Live explores how, with the advent of the personal digital device, our collective experience of technology and entertainment has reverted back to a solo experience.

According to O'Brien, "Peephole Cinema invites elements of both the old and the new, the shared and the solitary experience."


  • Signe Baumane: ABC of Travel (2016) and The Purpose of Travel (2016)
  • Kota Ezawa: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocous (2016) and Moonwalk (2016)
  • Laurie O’Brien: Emilia the Typist (2016) and Jack’s City (2016)


Oakland-based Kota Ezawa often reworks images from popular culture, film and art history, stripping them down to their core elements. His simplified versions remain easily recognizable and potent, the result of a process that illuminates the hold certain images have on their viewers. Working in a range of mediums such as digital animation, slide projections, light boxes, paper cut-outs, collage, print, and wood sculptures, Ezawa maintains a keen awareness of how images shape our experience and memory of events.

His work has been displayed in museum solo exhibitions including at Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA (2015), Albright Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York (2013), the Vancouver Art Gallery’s outdoor exhibition space Offsite (2012) and the Hayward Gallery Project Space in London (2007). His work has been included in group exhibitions such as, Out of the Ordinary at Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC (2013), After Photoshop at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY (2012), and The More Things Change at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA (2011 Ezawa’s work has earned a number of awards, including the SECA Art Award of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2006), a Eureka Fellowship from the Fleishhacker Foundation (2010) and a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Award (2003). His work is included in renowned collections such as: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; MOMA, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, among others.

Laurie O’Brien is an artist working in video, installation, animation, and performance. Her interdisciplinary media work is collaborative, interactive, sociopolitical, hand-made and digital. She is interested in hybrid forms of expression that combine and defy definitions and categories. Her animations, performances and video installations have been exhibited in numerous galleries nationally and internationally. Her work often focuses on the blurring of fact and fiction. A metaphor that continues to influence her work, the puppet, finds expression in unexpected forms with links to technology, identity, duplicity and deception. She is an Assistant Professor of Visual Media in the Photography Department at RIT. She lives in both Brooklyn and Rochester.

At the age of 14, Signe Baumane began publishing short stories in Latvia. She received a BA in Philosophy from Moscow State University, then started to work at Riga’s Animated Film Studio as a cel painter. With support of government grants, Signe made 3 animated shorts in Latvia, then moved to New York and spent four years working for independent animator Bill Plympton as an art director and production manager. In 1998, Signe received her US green card as ‘extraordinary ability alien’ and began making films at her own studio. In 2005 she became a NYFA Fellow in Film. She received two grants from the Jerome Foundation – one for her animated short “Birth”, the other for her animated feature “Rocks In My Pockets”. She also received 3 grants from NYSCA. Signe has written, directed and animated 15 shorts and one feature film, which collectively have been accepted in over 300 film festivals around the world and received many awards.

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