“Out of Hand: Materialising the Digital” at Powerhouse Museum as part of Sydney Design

Featuring nearly 60 artists, designers and architects, the exhibition explores the multiple facets of digital manufacturing.

A common theme through “Out of Hand” is how the digital and the material worlds are becoming increasingly blurred and integrated.

Installation image of "Out of Hand". Image courtesy Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences.

“Out of Hand”, 3 September 2016 – 25 June 2017, installation view at Powerhouse Museum. Image courtesy Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences.

From 3 September 2016 to 25 June 2017, Powerhouse Museum shows “Out of Hand: Materialising the Digital” as part of Sydney Design. The exhibition, originally developed and shown in 2013 at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York, explores the role of digital manufacture in contemporary art, science, design, fashion and architecture. With additional material from Australia and the Asia-Pacific, there are nearly 60 artists, designers and architects from around the world.

“Out of Hand” looks at the techniques and new possibilities of technology, examining digital manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing in its various forms, CNC machining, laser cutting, and digital knitting and weaving. The exhibition investigates the place and impact of digital technology in the design and production of objects.

Louis Pratt, 'Future events', 2016. Image courtesy of Louis Pratt.

Louis Pratt, ‘Future Events’, 2016. Image courtesy Louis Pratt.

The exhibition is co-curated by the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) and the MAD. MAAS Director Dolla Merrillees explains the importance of such an exhibition:

As the first generation of digital natives enter adulthood, this exhibition offers a look into technologies and techniques which once appeared futuristic and are now becoming available for you to employ yourself at home.

The show explores seven overall themes. Analog to Postdigital looks into how new technologies are blurring the boundaries between the virtual and material worlds, paying attention to the analogue technologies that came before the more recent innovations. Modelling Nature investigates biological and ecological phenomena and how these designs in nature have influenced art and design, while New Geometries looks at our capacity to understand and visualise mathematical forms.

Installation image of "Out of Hand". Photo: Marinco Kojdanovski. Image courtesy Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences.

“Out of Hand”, 3 September 2016 – 25 June 2017, installation view at Powerhouse Museum. Photo: Marinco Kojdanovski. Image courtesy Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences.

Rebooting Revivals unravels the older ideas and designs that have influenced current innovations, the theme Pattern as Structure looks at the importance of search out patterns in design, craft and art, while Remixing the Figure investigates the role of the human form. Finally, Process investigates a range of processes and participation, from artworks controlled by computer programme to those requiring interaction in order to be complete.

Art Radar takes a look at some of the highlights from “Out of Hand: Materialising the Digital”.

"Out of Hand", 3 September 2016 - 25 June 2017, installation view at Powerhouse Museum. Photo: Marinco Kojdanovski. Image courtesy Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences.

“Out of Hand”, 3 September 2016 – 25 June 2017, installation view at Powerhouse Museum. Photo: Marinco Kojdanovski. Image courtesy Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences.

1. Zhoujie Zhang

Chinese digital artist and designer Zhoujie Zhang is a pioneer in digital creativity and is known for being independent, experimental and futuristic. He started off in the traditional creative arts, and from an early age his father taught him the art of calligraphy. However he felt that there were other art expressions he wanted to explore. He graduated in industrial design from Central Saint Martins Art and Design College in London and in 2010 he established Zhoujie Zhang Digital Lab.

Zhoujie Zhang, 'Object #SQN3-A-Brass', 2014. Image courtesy Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences.

Zhoujie Zhang, ‘Object #SQN3-A-Brass’, 2014. Image courtesy the artist and Endless Forum.

When he returned to Shanghai many workshops refused to give him work, claiming that his innovative designs were impossible. Zhang believes that digital objects can grow and morph in a similar way to things in nature. His work explores these transformations, focusing on logic, variety and unpredictability and how this reflects similar processes in the natural world. His innovations stem from a deep understanding of the material he is working with. He explains that “It was really useful to do production myself and has seriously influenced my design process – the two have for too long been seen as separate in China.”

“Out of Hand” is showing Digital Chair (2011) as part of the New Geometries section that looks at ways to visualise mathematical forms.

Matthew Gardiner, 'Oribotics', 2010. Image courtesy Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. Photo by Jayne Ion.

Matthew Gardiner, ‘Oribotics’, 2010. Photo: Jayne Ion. Image courtesy Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences.

2. Bolor Amgalan

Bolor Amgalan is a Sydney-based, Mongolian-born fashion designer whose work focuses on textiles, form and sustainability. Bolor is particularly influenced by architecture, as well as the small details in her daily life. She often incorporates aspects of traditional and contemporary influences, to create layered and refined designs.

Bolor Amgalan, 'Meabolism', 2014. Photo: Marinco Kojdanosvski. Image courtesy the artist.

Bolor Amgalan, ‘Metabolism’, 2014. Photo: Marinco Kojdanosvski. Image courtesy the artist.

Her collection Metabolism, on display at “Out of Hand”, is based on a zero waste philosophy in which she ensures that the pieces are created with sustainability at the heart of their design. The collection also draws inspiration from 1960s Japanese architecture, specifically the interchangeable and re-configurable nature of pieces. The idea of this type of architecture was to create cities that could grow and change like living organisms. In this concept, individuals are connected within a lager system.

In her designs Bolor incorporated a zero-waste tab-interlocking seam system, which makes it easier to customise the garments for wearer’s preference, or allow for disassembly and reassembly of complete garments. The concept behind this strategy is to encourage slower consumption. Bolor used laser-cut technology to create multi-layer bonded fabric, allowing for the material to lock together like LEGO.

Barry X Ball, 'Envy'. Image courtesy Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. Photo by Jayne Ion. Photo by Jayne Ion.

Barry X Ball, ‘Envy’, 2008 – 2010. Photo: Jayne Ion. Image courtesy Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences.

3. Aki Inomata

Japanese artist Aki Inomata examines interactions between humans and the natural world through the point of view of living creatures. Through endeavouring to see the world from a non-human perspective, Inomata’s work aims to, in her words, “view human beings from new perspectives to rediscover ourselves”.

In an essay, Minoru Hatanaka, Senior Curator of NTT Intercommunication Center in Tokyo explains of Inomata’s practice:

A characteristic of her work lies in its focus not on the world as seen by those creatures, but on human beings or the artist herself as well as Japan particularly or the world as a whole, as seen through those creatures. That is to say, it is about the human world illuminated by behaviors of other living creatures.

Aki Inomata, 'Why Not Hand Over a ‘Shelter’ to Hermit Crab?', 2010-13. Image courtesy the artist and Kubota Gallery.

Aki Inomata, ‘Why Not Hand Over a ‘Shelter’ to Hermit Crab?’, 2010-13. Image courtesy the artist and Kubota Gallery.

A particular focus of her work, including the pieces on display at “Out of Hand”, is hermit crabs. Normally these crabs are found in coastlines, but in Inomata’s work the crabs move from city to city, reflecting on the implications of migration in contemporary society. In explaining her use of hermit crabs, Inomata says:

The hermit crabs in my piece, who exchange shelters representing cities of the world, seem to be crossing over national borders…It also brings to mind migrants and refugees changing their nationalities and the places where they live.

The hermit crabs are a poetic reference to the idea of living in a temporary dwelling, something that is a reality for many today.

Claire Wilson

1679

Related topics: new media, installation, video, museum shows, events in Sydney

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