Boundary-pushing exhibitions and initiatives to fill the gap between these two universes.
Discussing the legitimacy of the use of technology is not the main point of this article. Showcasing stunning exhibitions, programmes, initiatives, artists that have made art thanks to/through technology is the aim here.
Starting from the 2016 IK Prize winner Recognition, an AI programme comparing up-to-the-minute photojournalism with British art from the Tate collection. Its algorithms were able to browse through the Tate vast collection searching for visual similarities between the artworks and online news images. This is how a Turner was matched with a recent shot of migrants sitting by a fire in Calais.
The beauty of these pairings lies in the subtle creation of a new meaning that our minds naturally tag to the visuals due to their juxtaposition or coherence. The connection that now seems so normal is actually brand new. The most fortunate matches are those that combine themes and subjects with the least in common.
Passing onto something ongoing, SPACE’s Art + Technology is a test ground and a critical exchange platform for tech engaged artists and thinkers. Shared residency studio, workshops, projects investigate the frictions (as they call them) among art, technology and sustainability.
Mostly organised in yearly themes, the about-to-end thematic is HereAfter. By exploring how the virtual world now affects our perception of reality, it focuses on how technology mediates our access to space and to living experiences.
Over the pond, the Art + Technology Lab at LACMA aims to support artists in experiments with emerging technology. From live cinema projects, to audio visual fieldworks, to media documentations, the artists there dissect, assemble, breath and touch technology to make art.
The Lab is inspired by the original LACMA Art & Technology Program, which ran from 1967 to 1971. For the first time in art history, the program curators matched leading artists (such as Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, and Channa Horowitz) with innovative and forward thinking corporations (e.g. IBM, General Electric, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory). That first project still deeply affects the way LACMA understands its role as a steward of art and technology.
Hopefully, all these projects and initiatives will prompt further reflection on contemporary digital technologies through art. Because without a critical, rigorous, and ever-reflexive aesthetic acknowledgement, latest tech forces and development will just be mere gizmos.