The M.F.A. program in art practice at UC Berkeley provides a unique context for students to employ unconventional yet rigorous research methods. Drawing on their studies in diverse fields-literature, folk culture, engineering, history, web design-the six artists graduating in 2009 have created works that challenge our desire to identify with predetermined visual models and redefine the Bay Area legacies of Abstract Expressionism, conceptual art, and social practice. Sara Bright's paintings convey the Kafkaesque confusion of a waking dream. Darkness permeates precognitive blurs of mountains, rocks, and animals, creating a terrifying dichotomy between tangible and intangible forces. Drawing upon her Appalachian upbringing and her literary interests, Bright's large-scale canvases mirror the stillness of landscape and its deafening dialogue with the unknown. Lydia Greer's spare retellings of her family stories belie their own complexity. Using the imperceptible twenty-four-frames-per-second rhythm of live-action film rather than the ten to twelve frames per second of typical animation, Greer assigns characters to simple objects and allows them to enact oblique narratives about consumption, youth, and political upheaval. This minimalist animation is preceded by segments of live video, allowing the artist to transfer the responsibility of storytelling from the narrator to the viewer, exploring the form of the “play” as an active exchange. Laura Britt Greig's robots often exhibit surprising behavior while performing routine tasks. Constructed as bodies with technological organs rather than tissue, Greig's works ask that we acknowledge their presence in the same way that we might confront a stranger. Particularly since her robots are media-makers, actively producing images with the same subtle variations as those produced by human arms, the onus is on us to determine their role in our rapidly growing technocracy. In an age of increasing visual and textual information, Farley Gwazda's graphic strategies distill visual data down to reveal a primary signifying impulse: personal choice. Engaging two purportedly democratic agencies, voting and the Internet, Gwazda tries to locate the collective unconscious hidden within our desire to codify. The artist describes his practice, a mixture of cryptology and modern-day alchemy, as closer to shamanism than design. Investigating the interstices between natural and artificial organization, Aaron Maietta documents elusive tensions within overlooked landscapes. Critical to his projects are works in absentia: Maietta asked other artists and writers to help disseminate the myth of the on-site installation based on nothing more than explanatory accounts and photographs. By limiting these resources, Maietta emphasizes the problematic of the project rather than its material authority in the exhibition space. Ginger Wolfe-Suárez's critical exercise requires intensive research and formal renegotiation. Often working with forgotten histories, she mines records of nonviolent activism to create objects that help activate historical memory. Her sites of activation are not limited to the formal space of the gallery-Wolfe-Suárez also creates rural installations and publishes artistic collaborations in the independent press.