Art and Tech: An Exhibition Statement From Curator Kirsten Bengtson-Lykoudis
As artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual (VR) or augmented realities (AR) filter into every aspect of our lives, the art world—and its artists—have adapted. In response to the blur of advances, contemporary artists are severing ties with tradition, and asking us to consider the implications of this brave new world. With a deluge of tools at their disposal, opportunities for experimentation, cross-pollination, and resistance abound. The work in this month’s Art and Tech exhibition, selected from a trove of tech-inspired submissions to NOT REAL ART’s annual grant, focuses on the interplay between these two richly connected realms.
Through multimedia installations, experimental animations, and new media projects involving surveillance cameras, facial recognition, and alternate realities, the artists in Art and Tech use emerging technology to explore a range of themes. From diaristic Instagram performances and interactive websites to iPhone videos and role-playing apps, they present a world hovering between the virtual and the real. Treading a delicate path between diving into the future and getting lost in the matrix, they examine their place in a shifting universe and stake their claim on a glimmering plot of cyberspace.
Artificial Intelligence and Alternative Realities
Richard Hoagland’s haiku-generating machine, "Tilly," is uncannily prescient during the current writers’ strikes. Animal rights advocate Sophie Gamand’s "The Invisible Dog" illustrates the plight of a chained dog through AR. Avital Meshi investigates the seamy world of facial recognition in her identity-based project “Techno Schizo,” while Kaitlyn Smith uses deep fake images of factory workers to address the replacement of humans by machines. Eric Millikin’s "Somnambulistic Autonomous Land-roving Enlightenment Machine" combines AI with a robotic sweeper and laser projections to analyze documents from the Salem witch trials. Ceramic artist Tristyn Bustamante’s “Post Biological Mutations” series links AI to animals’ heightened sensory awareness.
Social Media, Websites, and Apps
Michael Menchaca explores the murky underpinnings of social media platforms in their animated video installation "A Cage Without Borders." Camila Galaz’s diaristic Instagram performance "Dead End. Brilliant." blends events from her move to Los Angeles with scenes from a Crocodile Dundee film. Nicholas Moore’s adventure role-playing app "Pieces" and Alice Yuan Zhang’s “Anti-Racist Pop Quiz” offer virtual experiences and socio-political discourse from the comfort of your phone. JLS Gangwisch’s surveillance-based internet installation “#imhere” probes the connections between human figures and their environments. Jody Zellen’s interactive website, "Ghost City Avenue S," captures the desolation of urban streets during the pandemic.
Performance, Video, Games, and Animation
Feixue Mei’s wry animation "Distorted Boundary" imagines ancient civilizations with access to laptops, sports cars, and other modern comforts. Allison Tanenhaus’ glitch iPhone video "Screaky" transforms music into vibrant audiovisual experiences. Manuel Alejandro Rodriguez-Delgado’s apocalyptic respirator demonstration examines the emotional and psychological impact of technological objects. Derrick Sanskrit’s 3D-printed video game controllers have a Pop-Art resonance, while Sevan Mujukian’s game "Frayed" pays homage to the poetry of Armenian carpets. Minoosh Zomorodinia’s multimedia performance "Virtual Land" critiques the concept of borders and land ownership by transforming the artist’s daily walking routes into 3D objects.
Mixed Media, Electronics, and Immersive Experiences
Erwin Redl weaves the aesthetic language of VR and 3D modeling into his transportive light installation "Matrix XII Krems." Michelle L. Herman’s luminous sculpture “Untitled (Technology/Transformation)” mourns the diminishing role of the artist’s hand. Chris Combs’ “Orchestration (Beeswax)” combines beeswax-dipped LEDs, circuit boards, and wires to embrace and confront technology. Kirk Miller’s “My Magnificent Spectacular Virtual Virtual” investigates the self through the use of “prosthetic memories.” Ani Liu’s “Mind in the Machine” monitors the fluctuating emotions of a factory worker at a knitting machine during a typical work day, while Sherry Karver welcomes accidents in her pixelated photographs from television screens. Juan Jimenez’s futuristic painting “Autorretrato” ponders the long-term effects of technological progress on spiritual and cosmic interactions.