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Newsletter Vol.5

  • Convergence and Realization at LACMA’s Art + Technology Lab
  • Space of Connectivity Redefined in the Zero Contact Environment
  • Transnational Research and Academic Interchange at Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational

  • Convergence and Realization at LACMA’s Art + Technology Lab
    Rashaad Newsome <Being> 2019
    image courtesy Rashaad Newsome Studio
      The convergence of art and technology is garnering much attention as the global battle against COVID-19 is demanding new ways of contact and communication. The Art + Technology Lab at LACMA, presented by the Hyundai Motor Company with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) as part of The Hyundai Project since 2015, aims to explore the convergence of art and technology.

      LACMA’s original Art & Technology program was a renowned arts research program in the 1960s–1970s that produced world-class artists, such as Andy Warhol and James Turrell. In 2014, the Lab was revived and in 2015 Hyundai Motor Company became lead sponsor. As the first initiative of the revitalized Art + Technology Lab, Hyundai Motor Company supported the acquisition of works by the program’s two early participants, Robert Irwin and James Turrell.

      The Art + Technology Lab program selects 4 to 6 artists every year as recipients of financial grants of up to $50,000 and consultation with expert partners from the fields of science, technology, and engineering. The projects must present new forms of contemporary artwork by exploring the creative convergence of art and technology. The artists or artist collectives may utilize state of the art technologies, such as drones, augmented reality, 3D printing, biomedical sensors, and wearable computers. They may also tap into various issues in the cultural-artistic and social realms of today, including the human sense and reason, the history of technological advancement, and the relationship between humans and art.

      A great example is The Roadable Synapse by the 2017 recipient Jonathon Keats. The sponsorship of Hyundai Motor Company propelled Keats’ project to manifest into the future of mobility with Hyundai Ioniq. Keats’ ongoing curiosity in neuroscience inspired the use of sensory technologies on the vehicle, where the sensors collected real-time data in motion and generated a novel audio experience for the driver. This innovative mobility solution presented an immersive driving experience. Over the course of two years for the project, Hyundai Motor Company offered technological support, consultative aid and the Hyundai Ioniq.

      In addition, the 2018 recipient Tavares Strachan announced his project ENOCH by launching a 3U satellite into space. ENOCH focused on the development and launch of the 3-unit satellite technology, while shedding light to America’s first African American astronaut, Robert Henry Lawrence Jr. The project was an homage to the forgotten astronaut’s story as the first African American to join the US space program while bringing together hidden histories, Ancient Egyptian traditions, religion and faith, and the history of exploration.

      These projects are an epitome of the vision of Art + Technology Lab at LACMA, which envisages the expansion of ingenuity through the collaboration between talented artists and technological development organizations. The convergence of next-generation technologies and creative artworks transcends into a future-oriented experience and new value generation. The Lab focuses on providing an environment to enable new trials and discourse to deliver these new experiences and values. Hyundai Motor Company spearheads the program in support of the artists’ creative activity by working with innovative patrons of the program across the globe, including Google, Accenture, Snap Inc., and SpaceX.

      Hyundai Motor Company continues to sponsor exhibitions that conjoin art and technology as part of the 10-year partnership with LACMA: The Hyundai Project. LACMA presented the exhibitions of the artist collective Random International and the media artist Diana Thater in 2015, and the first VR work by director Alejandro González Iñárritu in 2017.
    Space of Connectivity Redefined in the Zero Contact Environment
    Marina Abramović still from <Rising> © Acute Art
      The protracted COVID-19 pandemic has swept across the world, and the global arts and cultural scenes have not been spared. Museums and exhibition galleries continue to practice social distancing by closing doors to visitors while concerts and other events have been postponed indefinitely or cancelled entirely. However, this daily “zero contact” phenomenon should not be perceived as a mere disconnect. Many artists, curators, cultural organizations, and art institutions around the world are using digital media to test new ways of staying connected. In this article, we aim to predict what art activity will look like in the newly forming digital spaces of contact in the post-pandemic world.

      First, we must draw our attention to new online platforms that are bridging artists and the audience in new ways. “CLOUD9” (https://cloud9.support/) and “Well Now WTF?” (http://wellnow.wtf/) are particularly noteworthy, as they do more than just transferring the physical exhibition space to the virtual, cyber space. Experimental curation and the founding of new web-based communities facilitated by these platforms revitalize our gloomy, pandemic-stricken lives.

      CLOUD9 is an acronym for “Collective Love On Ur Desktop” and it is run by the artist collective BUFU (By Us For Us) and China Residencies. This platform seeks to share care using all sorts of intangible resources on the web. Anyone can share their talent, technique, or work on CLOUD9 in Zoom meetings. Those who wish to participate can submit session ideas and availability online. A CLOUD9 administrator will then coordinate all the submissions to organize a class calendar for the month. CLOUD9 sessions cover a wide scope of topics: from dance and self-portraits drawing class to computer programming and tax filing guidelines. No specific experience, degree or certificate is required to propose ideas for the sessions. Regardless of age or occupation, anyone can become a teacher on CLOUD9 in their own one-hour session as long as there is content for discussion. The platform does not have a set requirement for participation—users can freely join the public Zoom meeting of their interest. Global Club, which marked the beginning and end of CLOUD9’s first season, presented a jubilant scene of its participants dancing in their own bedroom, living room or kitchen in comfortable clothes.

      Well Now WTF identifies more strongly as a platform designed to be an exhibition space. Anthropologist Wade Wallerstein and artists Faith Holland and Lorna Mills co-curated this virtual gallery to present works by more than 90 digital artists in collections of GIF images. Upon entering the website, visitors confront a grid of “rooms” that fully occupy the screen. This organization reminds viewers of museum exhibition galleries sectioned by walls according to themes. Clicking on the room’s preview image opens a new page with works by a dozen or so artists who have been grouped under the same theme. Given the nature of GIFs, each work is shown for a split second, just enough to capture and tease out the message. As the user moves across different rooms and view the waves of low-resolution images and memefied humor, images of the 1990s’ golden age of Net Art and Instagram’s GIF sticker selection seem to overlap in sync.

      Acute Art utilizes AR technology in its collaborations with visual artists. In collaboration with Olafur Eliasson for Wunderkammer (2020) and KAWS for Expanded Holiday (2020), Acute Art created digital sculptures that are easily accessible via smartphones. Game designer Pippin Barr and Marina Abramović’s 2020 game The Artist is Present 2 (AIP2) also encourages us to think about spaces of contact that are newly discovered by creative talents in a time of no contact. In this game, the player takes on Marina Abramović’s identity and performs as the artist. This game was created through the game designer-artist collaboration following the launch of the first version of the game in 2011. In the first version of AIP, the player became an audience member waiting in line for 5 hours to sit across the table with Marina Abramović for a period of silence, but in AIP2, the player becomes the artist and gets to meet the teary-eyed fans.

      As do examples discussed above demonstrate, new ways of artist-curator-audience interaction in the online space offer a variety of richer experiences of non-physical communication and art viewing. The line drawn between artists and the audience by museums is also fading. CLOUD9 allows anyone to be the “presenter (artist)” and share their thoughts and art techniques, while Well Now WTF helps us to easily enjoy art at a time when investing and hosting physical exhibitions can be burdensome. Art museums and cultural institutions have closed doors due to the pandemic; yet the silver lining is that there are now more opportunities in the digital world, where art can be enjoyed more closely, interactively, and conveniently.

    Transnational Research and Academic Interchange at Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational
     Due to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, many art exhibitions and performances have been postponed or cancelled. The role of cultural institutions is more vital today than ever before, and publications and research programs hosted by art institutions at home and abroad are contributing tremendously to the art scene in this time of crisis.

      In 2014, Hyundai Motor Company and Tate entered a long-term partnership of 11 years to support the annual Hyundai Commission at Tate Modern as well as to provide support of the acquisition of works by Nam June Paik. In 2019, Hyundai Motor and Tate announced the launch of the Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational, creating a global research platform to transform Tate’s research and curatorial work and make an essential contribution to the reframing of art histories for the 21st century. Hyundai Motor will support the Centre from January 2019 to December 2024.

      Over the past two decades Tate’s collection, displays and programs have expanded to be more open, inclusive and reflective of its audiences. Tate strives to consider global and multidisciplinary practices in Europe, North America, Asia, Africa, and other parts of the world through its projects. As a result, the museum has shared its research through exhibitions, publications, and acquisitions of artworks. Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational builds on Tate’s strong foundation and expertise in international art research, facilitating collective research and intellectual exchange between art institutions around the world. The Centre will transform how Tate grows and shares knowledge about multiple art histories with individuals and organizations around the world.

      Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational’s program is not limited to the four galleries in the Tate family—Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool, and Tate St Ives, rather, it invites curators and experts from around the world for academic exchanges and collaborative projects. These gatherings bring experts’ voices together on global exhibition curation, collections acquisition, and art research, and advances relevant discourse. A case in point is the first international symposium hosted by the Centre, which took place at Tate Modern in February last year under the theme “Axis of Solidarity: Landmarks, Platforms, Futures.” Along with Cornell University’s Institute for Comparative Modernities and Africa Institute, Sharjah, the Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational gave presentations and led discussions on various art phenomena and the International Solidarity Movement that emerged in the decolonization processes of the Global South from the 1950s to the 1980s. In 2019, the Centre also invited Indian-born contemporary artist Nikhil Chopra for a special performance and talk at the Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge. The Centre also hosted numerous other special talks, performances, and conferences, one of which was the lecture performance of the Nigerian-born contemporary artist Otobong Nkanga at Tate Modern’s Starr Cinema. The Centre plans to extend its various research endeavors until 2024 and share its studies through various channels, including online platforms and publications.

      Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational is also investing efforts in redefining canonical art history and contributing to exhibitions and public programs that support comprehensive research and examination of museum collections. A prime example of such endeavor is the recent exhibition of the work of artist Nam June Paik, curated by Sook-Kyung Lee, Senior Curator, International Art, Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational, Tate Modern, and Rudolf Frieling, Curator of Media Arts, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, with Valentina Ravaglia, Curator, and Michael Raymond, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern. This retrospective took place from October 2019 to February 2020 at Tate Modern and showcased over 200 works by Nam June Paik, from his musical compositions and performances to videos and large-scale TV installations. The exhibition covered a manifold of 20th century modernisms and demonstrated how today’s transnational interpretation of art history can deepen our understanding of art, history, and self-identity. This traveling retrospective at Tate Modern and SFMOMA has been praised as an influential survey of the radical aesthetics and experiments of Nam June Paik, who was a critical figure in Fluxus, an international community of avant-garde artists, composers, designers, and poets.

      Hyundai Tate Research Centre is a meaningful initiative for multiple reasons: it innovates exhibitions and programs at Tate; strengthens the mission of the museum to research, collect, and exhibit through exchange and collaboration with other museums and research institutions around the world; and offers a new perspective for art history. Director of Tate Modern Frances Morris said, “It will enrich our program of exhibitions, acquisitions and collection displays, and help us to share and connect more deeply with the work of many institutions around the world. We want to deepen our commitment to exploring multiple art histories beyond western Europe and North America by showing that art, art movements and their histories are interconnected well beyond their country of origin.” Hyundai Motor is proud to support this major new initiative to transform Tate’s research and curatorial work and make an essential contribution to the reframing of art histories for the 21st century.

      In addition to the Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational, Hyundai Motor supports the Hyundai Commission, part of the 11-year partnership with Tate. The Hyundai Commission presents new works each year for the iconic Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. Hyundai Motor also supports programs and exhibition series at MMCA Korea and Los Angeles County Museum of Art through a 10-year partnership with each institution.