With “Cao Fei: Staging the Era,” the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, opens a major retrospective of the trailblazing Chinese multimedia artist—the first in her home country. For over two decades, Fei has harnessed nascent formats (film, video, MMOs, VR, etc.) to surreally depict the dramatic social changes of a globalizing China. Years in the making, the show is realised as an IRL parkour of her many virtual worlds, where works bleed into one another to create “a sense of belonging to this particular here and now—a stage for our era.”
“Taskoch pipon kona kah nipa muskoseya, nepin pesim eti pimachihew | Like the winter snow kills the grass, the summer sun revives it” opens at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery (RMG) in Oshawa, Canada. Curated by Missy LeBlanc, the show features Joi Arcand (image: ekawiya nepewisi, 2017), Susan Blight, Tsēmā Igharas, and four other artists working in languages representing the seven major geographic regions of the land now known as Canada, ”celebrating and centering Indigenous language revitalization.”
The Fall, a site-specific installation by Susan Philipsz, opens at Amsterdam’s Oude Kerk. Building on the former church’s acoustics and legacy, the Scottish artist has derived a ‘sonic tribute’ to composer and organist Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, who was buried on site in the 17th century. Philipsz’ installation adds her voice to Sweelinck’s music, and suspends organ pipe forms in space, creating “descending scale sounds, which swell and evoke a sense of collapse, fragmentation, and absence.”
“CAMP After Media Promises,” the 7th Nam June Paik Art Center Prize Winner’s Exhibition opens in Gyeonggi-do, South Korea. To celebrate their recognition CAMP’s Shaina Anand, Ashok Sukumaran, and Sanjay Bhangar present Moving Panorama (2021, image), an urban megamix spanning eight screens and five acts. Drawing on CCTV footage from their native Mumbai, Manchester, Jerusalem, and Kabul, the installation ”redefines the categories of observer, subject, network, database, image, and sequence.”
NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) launches aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. An experiment in planetary self-defense, in fall 2022 the rocket will reach the Didymos asteroid system, impact its moonlet altering the asteroid’s motion—and the results will be observed from afar. ”This test will help prove out one viable way to protect our planet from a hazardous asteroid, should one be discovered that is headed toward Earth,” states NASA’s Bill Nelson.
“There’s much more self-reflection and embrace of doubt in this issue than I’m used to seeing in the art, science, and technology discourse space. Contributors reflect on what systems they are unwillingly contributing to, regardless of their criticality.”
Infiltrating Ender Gallery’s Minecraft server with his generative image systems, American artist Travess Smalley turns the in-game exhibition space into “a surreal reading experience” via a custom texture pack. Developed during his residency, “Change Language Resource Pack” replaces all images and textures with randomly generated language, resulting in “a concrete poem, that turns the familiar Minecraft world into an abstract, austere, and newly dangerous place (be careful identifying lava!).”
In an attempt to become the “Singapore of Latin America,” President Nayib Bukele announces El Salvador will bootstrap an entire city around Bitcoin’s economic prospects. Building on the country’s recent recognition of the leading cryptocurrency as legal tender, the so-called “Bitcoin city” will be located along the Gulf of Fonseca near the base of Conchagua volcano, the geothermal energy of which will be harnessed to power the city and an industrial-scale Bitcoin mining operation. Honouring the libertarian ethos that is common amongst Bitcoin-boosters “the city will have no income, property, capital gains, or payroll taxes.”
“Data Refraction_Digital Orchestra,” a solo show by Jung Seung opens at Seoul’s Alternative Space LOOP. Centring the media artist’s preoccupation with digital traces, it includes three new works: a sonification of plant growth, a robot animated by related data, and a performance of a dancer in a “wearable robot” beamed into a digital environment (image: Scattered Scream-harness, 2021). Collectively they “redefine life through the coevolution between human senses and machines,” notes curator Sun Mi Lee.
Bringing together works from Michel de Broin, Justine Emard (image: Soul Shift, 2018) Ryoichi Kurokawa, Lu Yang, and 11 other artists and collectives, the 5th International Digital Art Biennial (BIAN) opens at Arsenal Contemporary Art Montréal. Co-curated by Alain Thibault and DooEun Choi, this edition heavily emphasizes the complementary aesthetics (and visions of futurity) linking Quebec- and Asia-based artists, while ruminating on post-pandemic metamorphosis (inspired by the divination of the I-Ching).
Assembling a ‘who’s who’ of artists that pioneered the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in their practice, the group exhibition “Code of Arms” opens at London’s Gazelli Art House. The show follows the evolution of the genre through a mix of early plotter drawings by Vera Molnar, Manfred Mohr, Frieder Nake, and Georg Nees, and later, more contemporary computational works by Harold Cohen, Mario Klingemann, and Lynn Hershman Leeson.
“SHE KEEPS ME DAMN ALIVE,” an exhibition by Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley opens at London’s arebyte. Subverting the language of the first-person shooter, the game asks players—armed with a hot pink firearm—to NOT shoot Black Trans people, and then witness the results of their (in)action. Inverting the standard logic of the shooter genre where violence and mayhem are a means to an end, the installation creates a space to “capture, preserve and archive Black Trans existence” and reflect on personal responsibility.
The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Michigan, announces the acquisition of the Lillian F. Schwartz collection. Comprising films and videos, 2D artwork and sculptures, personal papers, and computer hardware, the material documents the “expansive and inquisitive mindset” of the Bell Labs veteran. Born in 1927, Schwartz was “present at the birth of digital art” and pioneered “computer-based work at a time when artists had to defend it as a viable medium.”
Mary Bauermeister (*1934), whose experimental practice helped shape the Fluxus movement, is announced the first recipient of a new art prize issued by the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The award honours Bauermeister’s legacy of drawings, paintings, and mixed-media installations that explore entanglements in science, music, and mathematics. “She has always worked transdisciplinary long before this became a category,” said Hendrik Wüst, the state’s Minister President.
Part of the London-based collective’s ongoing eco-fiction project Untertage where salt emerges as an agent of cultural evolution, Troika’s No Sound of Water opens at Arte Abierto, Mexico City. Taking the form of a towering salt waterfall that is juxtapozed with Troika’s Terminal Beach (2020), the installation channels “the extractive technologies that have contributed to the planet’s transformation.” Over time, salt crystals spill across the exhibition space, and into people’s pants, lungs, and lunches.
A new installation conceived for (and inspired by) the Tadas Ivanauskas Zoological Museum in Kaunas, Lithuania, artist duo Pakui Hardware’s Skewed Taxonomy opens as part of this year’s Kaunas Biennial. The sculptures, hybrid creatures made of wasp nests, stainless steel skeletons, glass body parts, and textiles, are integrated into the museum’s insect section and invite viewers to speculate on life “born from human activities merging with the evolution of the natural world.”
“The ‘discontinuation’ of a major marketplace today pushed all my buttons. The URLs for a half-million artworks were destroyed; livelihoods of ~10,000 artists were damaged; the energy and optimism of a creative community was diminished; and the guy who did it left town with $1M.”
Hic et Nunc (HEN) founder Rafael Lima pulls the plug on the popular ‘indie’ NFT marketplace, following what some allege were heated discussions on the community’s Discord channel. First, the website disappeared, then the market’s smart contract was posted to the official Twitter page. Launched in March on the low-cost, low-carbon Tezos chain, HEN became an instant artist favourite (esp. in the Global South) and just recently celebrated 500,000 minted NFTs.
With Pink Cell Tower, artist and critical engineer Julian Oliver erects “Germany’s first cell tower for the Commons” at Skulpturenpark Berlin. The solar-powered and autonomous piece of ‘extroverted infrastructure’—it’s designed to be seen—is framed by Oliver as an act of reclamation in an otherwise completely privatised EM space. “Calls and texts across the network are free and pro-public,” the former Berlin resident writes on Twitter. In short: “No plans, no tracking, no monitoring.”
Translating Spectroscopy data of young stars into generative LED animations, British artist duo Semiconductor premieres a series of Spectral Constellations at Mills Observatory in Dundee, Scotland, as part of NEoN Festival. In using the European Southern Observatory’s spectral data archive “as a physical material,” Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt imagine distant clusters of dust and gas as “rings of light which resemble the gradiated discs of planetary and stellar formations.”
NINE, a mini-version of media artist Martin Bricelj Baraga and electronic musician Olaf Bender’s installation Neunundneunzig (2015) opens at Berlin’s panke.gallery. Riffing on the 1984 German new wave hit “99 Luftballons,” viewers position themselves under a matrix of black balloons which gradually inflate, inducing claustrophobia. Further animated by stroboscopic light and Bender’s percing sound design, the resulting environment is a “dark field where sound, light, and objects inhale, exhale and pulsate.”
An exhibition (and symposium) curated by the head of ECAL’s photography department, Milo Keller, “Automated Photography” opens at Espaces Commines as part of the Paris Photo fair. Reflecting on the school’s eponymous research project, works by 12 prominent digital artists including Nora Al-Badri, Simone C Niquille, and Alan Warburton explore contemporary image-making technologies such as machine learning, CGI, and photogrammetry, asking timely questions about the automation of creation.
Keller, Gunti, Amoser
Arno Beck’s not one to let a good pun go to waste: with “Don’t Put All Your Becks In One Basket,” the Bonn-based postdigital artist shows a new series of pen plotter drawings at Schierke Seinecke in Frankfurt, Germany; his third solo show with the gallery. The drawings, colourful bursts of pixels and compression artifacts that reference videogames and image processing software from the 1980s and ’90s, are presented ‘sitting’ in iconified shopping carts Beck drew on the gallery wall—one Beck per basket.
Providing a powerful visual for what’s at stake at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference, Irish artist John Gerrard’s latest simulation Flare (Oceania) 2021 debuts on a large-scale LED wall at the University of Glasgow South Facade. Created in response to a statement from Tongan artist and activist Uili Lousi, whose ancestral ocean is heating due to CO2 emissions elsewhere on the planet, Flare echoes Gerrard’s past software works that “fly the flag of our own self-destruction.”
Hot off demoing AI voice transfer in a performance context at Barcelona’s Sónar Festival, American artist and musician Holly Herndon muses on vocalization through a machine learning process she calls ‘Spawning.’ “Unlike sampling, which is a reproduction of sounds sampled from a recording, Spawning is the ability to create works in the likeness of others by interacting with a [voice] model trained on them,” Herndon writes on Twitter. It’s “21st century sampling, with big implications.”
Presented as part of a lecture on his climate activism, French media and visual artist Joanie Lemercier shows his film Slow violence (2021) on COP26 TV, an independent news and information channel covering the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. Shot with drones during the 2020 Ende Gelände protests at Europe’s largest (and dirtiest) open-pit coal mine near Hambach, Germany, the film documents the extent of energy giant RWE’s climate crimes and how law enforcement operates as an extension of corporate power.
A “public service intervention” that exposes climate disinformation on social media during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), British artists Bill Posters and Robert ‘3D’ Del Naja launch Eco-Bot.Net, a system that collects, visualises, and flags corporate greenwashing (ads, sponsored posts etc) from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The dataset is updated every 24 hours and new ‘drops’ for different sectors such as lobbying, energy, and aviation will be released throughout COP26.
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