Science, technology and visual art: Artists in a hybrid world

A Taiwanese exhibition features art forged in the spaces where art and science converge.

“TEA/Super Connect–2013 International Techno Art Exhibition”, which showed at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (NTMoFA) from 10 August to 27 October 2013, brought together work by artists that explore the fields of biology, medicine, computer science and robotics.

Exhibition view, "TEA/Super Connect–2013 International Techno Art Exhibition. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Exhibition view (‘Dirk the Homeless Robot’ – documentation), “TEA/Super Connect–2013 International Techno Art Exhibition”. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

For the 2013 exhibition, Curator Shu-Min Lin selected art that reflects on identity, culture and interspecies relationships in today’s “super connected” global society. The 26 international and local artists in “TEA/Super Connect” make work using everything from organ transplant technology to computer algorithms, pig hearts to video games and homeless robots to cult movies. “A diversity of new relations are formed through the recombination of the three basic components: digit, gene and atom,” Lin says in his curatorial statement. “The backbone of the exhibition, digital media art, itself embodies a super connection between art and science, and a convergence of various expressive modes and specific demands to integrate knowledge and expertise.”

Stelarc, 'Ear On Arm', 2006-2013, Medpor scaffold, tissue in-growth, vascularisation, dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Stelarc, ‘Ear On Arm’, 2006-2013, Medpor scaffold, tissue in-growth, vascularisation, dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Sonia Cillari, 'As an Artist, I Need to Rest', 2009-2010, generative performance, dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Sonia Cillari, ‘As an Artist, I Need to Rest’, 2009-2010, generative performance, dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Lenka Klimesova, 'Future Kiss', 2008, special mask, monitor, poster, dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Lenka Klimesova, ‘Future Kiss’, 2008, special mask, monitor, poster, dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

In May the Horse Live in Me, French artist Marion Laval-Jeantet injects herself with horse blood plasma containing immunoglobulins in an effort to explore “hybrid man/animal existence.” In the video documentation shown in the NTMoFA exhibition, Laval-Jeantet is injected with the horse blood and walks around the performance space in stilts that look like horse legs. A few weeks after the performance, she reported “feeling hyperpowerful, hypersensitive and hypernervous.”

Marloes de Valk (Netherlands), Dave Griffiths (UK) and Aymeric Mansoux (France) collaborated to create Naked on Pluto, an interactive work that explores the benefits and limitations of social media. Players log in to the text based adventure game via Facebook and the programme manipulates their personal data to create a confusing online game world. Through the work, the artists hope to observe “how people expose themselves in social media and how personal data is transferred and utilised.”

Art Orient Objet, 'May the Horse Live in Me', 2011, single-channel video (documentation of performance), dimensions variable, Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Art Orienté Objet, ‘May the Horse Live in Me’, 2011, single-channel video (documentation of performance), dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Marloes de Valk, Dave Griffiths and Aymeric Mansoux, 'Naked on Pluto', 2010, online social media game, dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Marloes de Valk, Dave Griffiths and Aymeric Mansoux, ‘Naked on Pluto’, 2010, online social media game, dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Japanese artist Jun Fujiki gives audience members the opportunity to wind their way through decades of video and computer game development with his interactive work, Game Border. Using multiple controllers, a player can jump a character from one TV monitor to the next through the borders of each game.

In Bug, US artist Mark Bain allows his audiences to hear the sounds made by and in buildings and other architectural structures. In Heart Chamber Orchestra, created by Finnish artist Erich Berger and Peter Votava, an artist from Austria, twelve classical musicians play musical scores derived from their heartbeats using algorithms.

Jun Fujiki, 'Game Border', 2011, video game, dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Jun Fujiki, ‘Game Border’, 2011, video game, dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Mark Bain, 'Bug', 2010, sound installation, dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Mark Bain, ‘Bug’, 2010, sound installation, dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Erich Berger, Peter Votava and 12 classical musicians, 'Heart Chamber Orchestra', 2006-ongoing, single channel projection (documentation of performance), dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Erich Berger, Peter Votava and twelve classical musicians, ‘Heart Chamber Orchestra’, 2006-ongoing, single channel projection (documentation of performance), dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Dirk the Homeless Robot, a life sized, interactive puppet created by Dutch artist duo Electric Circus, toured Taiwan for four days, shuffling through museums, shopping malls and outside temples pushing a decrepit trolley. Dirk, controlled remotely by the artists, can interact with and respond to his audience and many people “see him as a companion to confide in,” say the artists.

The creature in Taiwanese artist Zan-Lun Huang’s Evolve exists somewhere between reality and fantasy. In the NTMoFA version of the work, a larger than life-sized half goat, half human creature stood upright in a glass walled room. It looked out at the audience with moving eyes and sporadically banged its head against the wall. As explained in the exhibition catalogue, “a sense of psychological fear quietly infiltrates […] during the process of viewing and spurs questions [about] the relationship between the object and the self.”

Electric Circus, 'Dirk the Homeless Robot', 2004, dimensions variable, mixed media. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Electric Circus, ‘Dirk the Homeless Robot’, 2004, mixed media, dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Zan-Lun Huang, 'Evolve', 2013, fibre reinforced plastic, acrylic, paint, faux fur, goat horn, mechanical part, 200 x 200 x 80 cm. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Zan-Lun Huang, ‘Evolve’, 2013, fibre reinforced plastic, acrylic, paint, faux fur, goat horn, mechanical part, 200 x 200 x 80 cm. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

The other artworks that were included in the exhibition are:

Julius von Bismarck, 'Image Fulgurator', 2008, mixed media, 44 x 47 x 25 cm. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Julius von Bismarck, ‘Image Fulgurator’, 2008, mixed media, 44 x 47 x 25 cm. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Jitsuro Mase and Tom Nagae, 'Palm Top Theater', 2010, iPhone, installation, dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Jitsuro Mase and Tom Nagae, ‘Palm Top Theater’, 2010, iPhone, installation, dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Julian Oliver, 'PsWorld', 2010, customised software, video camera, dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Julian Oliver, ‘PsWorld’, 2010, customised software, video camera, dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

In a review of the exhibition for Hong Kong-based art publication a.m. post, Ting-Yu Chen writes,

Perhaps ‘TEA’ could not answer all [of the] problems that occur between man and technology, nevertheless it provides a platform which allows the audience to experience unprecedented and specific desires for supernatural connection and to feel hope as well as despair in a three-dimensional way, and at the same time inspires reflections and debates with warmth and poetic qualities.

This 2013 exhibition is the second in the “TEA” (“Technology + Entertainment + Art”) series recently started by NTMoFA. From 13 October to 23 December 2012, the museum hosted “TEA/Collective Wisdom–2012 International Techno Art Exhibition” that featured technology and new media art works created by seventeen international artists and artist groups.

Ivan Abreu, 'Cross Coordinates', 2010, mixed media, dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Ivan Abreu, ‘Cross Coordinates’, 2010, mixed media, dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Jeff Desom, 'Rear Window Loop', 2010, three-channel projection, dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Jeff Desom, ‘Rear Window Loop’, 2010, three-channel projection, dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Peta Clancy and Helen Pynor, 'The Body is a Big Place', 2011, mixed media, dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Peta Clancy and Helen Pynor, ‘The Body is a Big Place’, 2011, mixed media, dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Nico Ferrando, 'Mr & Ms Ferrando' in "My Husband and Me, Me and My Wife", 2010, digital print, 200 x 150 cm. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Nico Ferrando, ‘Mr & Ms Ferrando’ in “My Husband and Me, Me and My Wife”, 2010, digital print, 200 x 150 cm. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Pei-Ying Lin, 'Unspeakableness', 2012, interactive software, sound and video, dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Pei-Ying Lin, ‘Unspeakableness’, 2012, interactive software, sound and video, dimensions variable. Image courtesy NTMoFA.

Kate Nicholson 

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Related Topics: biological art, human body in art, video game art, robots in art, art and science collaboration, new media art, art and technology, museum shows, events in Taiwan

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