“I wanted to see what human-generated randomness looks like,” writes Jonathan Chomko of his NFT project Proof of Work. Extending out his previous prompt-driven choreography, the Montréal artist created software for collecting random values from “small-scale“ gestures: typing random characters on a keyboard. Experiments with scale and colour yielded a pixellated visual language and, post-NFT drop, he notes the labourious process “records a minimum viable artwork, the hand of the artist visible in the digital image.”
“Time Holds All the Answers,” a survey of Postcommodity’s work opens at Remai Modern in Saskatoon, Canada. Duo Cristóbal Martínez and Kade L. Twist have long “injected Indigenous knowledge systems into the museum,” challenging its hermeticism and, here, Let Us Pray For the Water Between Us (2020, image) transforms an 8,300 L hazmat storage container into a drum with a motorized mallet sounding interior rhythms, reverberating calls for “respect, accountability, and transparency” in water stewardship.
A survey of the Argentinian artist’s inquiries into breath, spirit, and regeneration, Tomás Saraceno’s solo exhibition “We Do Not All Breathe the Same Air” opens at Neugerriemschneider in Berlin. A highlight is Saraceno’s newest installation, Particular Matter(s), that illuminates microscopic air particles “like millions of suspended galaxies” with a beam of light. Noteworthy: the exhibition is powered by renewables and opening hours shift with daylight to conserve energy.
As part of the NEW NOW festival exhibition, Korean-British artist duo Kimchi and Chips launch Another Moon into the skies over Zeche Zollverein, a former coal mine turned World Heritage Site and cultural park in Essen, Germany. Through Oct 3, a ring of 40 solar-powered laser projectors captures sunlight during the day and casts it back into the sky at night. Where the beams meet, a ghostly sphere—another moon—appears. In development for over six years, the installation celebrates the end of coal.
Curated by Karie Liao, “Geofenced” opens at (and around) Toronto’s InterAccess. Presented on the artist-run centre’s steps, at a local parkette, microbrewery, and other sites, the show features AR works by Cat Bluemke & Jonathan Carroll, Scott Benesiinaabandan, Jenn E Norton, and Adrienne Matheuszik. The latter’s Proxima-B (2021, image) superimposes scenes from an “extraplanetary resort … free from the troubles of the earth” in the InterAccess gallery, at a nearby parking pad, and on a billboard.
Twitter user and Blockchain sleuth Zuwu shares an incriminating paper trail revealing a senior employee of the NFT platform OpenSea has been engaging in insider trading. In a Twitter thread they list a number of suspicious transactions from wallets connected to OpenSea Head of Product Nate Chastain—indicating purchases of NFT projects right before they were featured on the site’s homepage, and then corresponding sales when the price spiked. While unscrupulous NFT collectors engage in a range of dubious practices including scalping, bribing miners, and gas wars, this is the first instances of a major NFT platform employee being caught red-handed.
Huidi Xiang’s “How to Be an Artist in Minecraft” opens at Ender Gallery. A sculptor who became obsessed with the routine (and implicit labour) of Animal Crossing during the pandemic, Xiang’s Ender residency culminates with the presentation of a spreadsheet of every act she performed in Minecraft over a three-month period. Building construction, skin customization, tutorial creation, every minute of her residency—and for those that can’t visit in-game, note the complete log on the artist’s website.
Marjolijn Dijkman’s solo exhibition “Electrify Everything” opens at NOME Gallery, Berlin, bringing together three interrelated bodies of work that ruminate on the history of electricity and the environmental impact of modern energy storage. The photo series Earthing Discharge (2019-21, image), for example, is made with a high voltage electro-photography technique in which the Dutch artist uses a discharge plate made from a tin-coated sheet, the same material as used in touch screen devices.
“My Future is not a Dream,” a show presenting Cao Fei’s early works opens at Espace Louis Vuitton München. Dealing with the virtualization of place, labour, and leisure, selections include RMB CITY: A Second Life City Planning (2007, image), which depicts the collision of Chinese urban life with immaterial space, and Imbalance 257 (1999), which presciently imagined youth “subjugated by entertainment … disguising themselves as manga or videogame characters to play out a fictional life.”
MIT researchers announce a breakthrough in magnet technology that paves the way to green fusion power. “On Sep 5, a large high-temperature superconducting electromagnet was ramped up to a field strength of 20 tesla, the most powerful magnetic field ever created,” MIT News reports. The new magnet allows far better control of fusion plasma inside a much smaller reactor—a watershed moment for the technology. “None of us are trying to win trophies at this point,” notes MIT’s Maria Zuber. “We’re trying to keep the planet livable.”
Focusing on stewardship, eco-aesthetics, and inter-species communication, “gREen” opens at Munich’s Muffatwerk. Curated by Jens Hauser and featuring Adam Brown, Thomas Feuerstein, and Agnes Meyer-Brandis, the show is presented as a garden, foregrounding climate politics in the art-science space. Meyer-Brandis’ ONE TREE ID (2021, image) allows visitors to don a perfume synthesized from a tree’s unique Volatile Organic Compound signature and, once scented, engage in biochemical conversation with plants.
For the New York Times, James Gorman profiles a geneticist team led by Christopher B. Kaelin and their recent findings in cat coat pattern formation. An instance of reaction diffusion (formulated in Alan Turing’s 1952 paper “The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis”), embryonic analysis of 200 kitten litters identified Dkk4, the gene that acts as an inhibitor to create “spots, stripes, and everything in between,” and how tissues lay the groundwork for those patterns—before hair or hair follicles appear.
Alex Schweder’s “The Sound and the Future” opens at Clifford Gallery in Hamilton, New York. Its name borrowed from its lone work, the exhibition offers a fun glimpse into Schweder’s world of “performnace architecture”—dynamic architectural and sculptural forms. Here, a made-to-order very Detroit installation, first shown at Wasserman Projects (2016, image) sways again; a homage to Motor City’s dance music genre, silvery nylon inflatables undulate, animated by blown air, to a slowed down techno soundtrack.
A phoenix rising from literal ashes, the 34th Bienal de São Paulo kicks off. As described in an e-flux announcement, its curators were inspired in resilience beyond COVID-19: a 2018 fire that burnt Museu Nacional in Rio de Janeiro to the ground. Drawing on an artifact pulled from the museum’s ruins completely intact, the 2 metric ton Santa Luzia iron meteorite has become a de facto biennale mascot, and it sits prominently at the entrace to the flagship exhibition “Though it’s dark, still I sing.”
Canadian software artist Sarah Friend hatches her latest blockchain-based social experiment called Lifeforms, a series of NFT-based entities that, “like any living thing, need regular care in order to thrive.” If not given away within 90 days of receiving it, a lifeforms will die and no longer appear in wallets. The first batch is currently in foster care at Kunstverein Hamburg as part of the “Proof of Stake” group exhibition. “After this, these lifeforms will continue their perilous journey through many hands.”
Art in America Assistant Editor Emily Watlington considers Los Angeles artist Alison O’Daniel’s latest installation. For “I Felt People Dancing,” the hard-of-hearing artist engaged Kunsthalle Osnabrück (a former monastary) by inviting two local Deaf residents to map its acoustics. Of the resulting reverberation symbols on the venue’s carpet, Watlington writes they “capture the absurd chaos of the building’s acoustics … the feeling of being hard of hearing in a world chock full of incomprehensible sounds.”
A media art trail of “dreams and utopias” curated by Vesela Stanoeva and Alain Bieber, “Welcome to Paradise” opens at NRW Forum, Düsseldorf. Across the 1,200 square-meter exhibition architecture, visitors will encounter works by over 20 international artists including A.A Murakami, Martin Backes, Sandrine Deumier, Noriyuki Suzuki, and Paola Pinna that explore new forms of spirituality, digital rituals, and physicality in the virtual. “At the end of the journey, paradise awaits—or does it?”
Collaborating with microbiologists at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (AT), bioartists Anna Dumitriu and Alex May premiere Fermenting Futures at the 15th International Congress on Yeasts. The work explores a Pichia pastoris yeast that Dumitriu and May CRISPR-modified to simultaneously capture carbon and output lactic acid for the creation of biodegradable plastic. The project aims to highlight the potential of yeast—“the workhorse of biotechnology”—and is scheduled for several major exhibitions in 2022.
“Overground Resistance” opens at MuseumsQuartier Wien’s Q21 exhibition space. Part of Oliver Ressler’s climate justice advocacy, the show includes Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination, Metabolic Studio, and Rachel Schragis. While many exhibitions tackle climate change, this is the first to “focus directly” on activism, the organizers note. Participants Tools for Action’s inflatable shields (image: Red Line Barricade, COP21 protest, 2015), for example, are emblematic of the aesthetics of direct action.
Following a recent rumination on peripheral devices, software designer and researcher Andrew Lovett-Barron weighs in on emergent interaction paradigms for VR. Backing away from his initial skepticism towards the medium, he uses Valve’s Half-Life: Alyx (perhaps the gold standard in VR gaming thus far) to think through the state of nuanced interactions and design constraints. Most metaverse cheerleading skips over the fact that our current interaction paradigms will not facilitate the ‘total immersion’ being promised; taking cues from a colour grading tool and a biomechanical keypad, Lovett-Barron thinks through what “functional immersion,” an immersion as situated in purpose-built hardware as HD graphics, could look and feel like for users.
Commissioned for the NRW Forum AR Biennale in Düsseldorf (DE), Lauren Lee McCarthy’s I’m Glad You Asked takes over the museum grounds. One of 19 digital sculptures to be explored outdoors via phone or tablet, McCarthy augments the park’s social landscape by virtually labelling various benches with phrases such as “These seats are reserved for people who have a lot of questions.” People who identify may sit down, inevitably mixing—and chatting—with unaware visitors. “Do you have a lot of questions, too?”
Drawing on recent works by Canadian artists Colton Hash and Freya Olafson, artist and writer Stacy Cann dives into digital materiality for Luma Quarterly. Focusing on how the former represents environmental positionality in installation, and how the latter warps embodiement in XR (image: VR Commodity Manifesto, 2019), Cann considers how her case studies problematize the digital, confound viewer expectations, and “give us separation from the subject to consider how we act ethically towards the other, even when they are not human.”
In an interview conducted in the wake of her current solo show, “Twisted,” at New York’s New Museum, American media artist Lynn Hershman Leeson reflects on five decades of interrogating emerging technologies. Known for making poignant statements about surveillance, bioengineering, and AI (image: Seduction of a Cyborg, 1994), Leeson notes that “every single advancement in technology had its base in warfare. There’s an inherent strand in the DNA of these inventions that leads them to assault. We have to cure that.”
“I’m stunned that they forced the removal of our ‘solidarity with Palestine’ statement which forms part of our exhibition. That they did so following the pressure from a lobbying group known to platform the extreme-right settler movement in Israel is an affront to human rights, in Palestine and elsewhere.”
“Spirits Roaming on the Earth,” the first major survey show of American artist Jacolby Satterwhite opens at Pittsburgh’s Miller ICA. Providing a chronology of the artist’s signature fusion of world building, mythology, and Queer theory, and interpretations of his Mother’s drawings, in mixed-media works spanning installation to VR and CGI (image: Black Luncheon, 2020), Satterwhite “transforms existential uncertainty into a generative engine of resilience, reinvention, and celebration.”
“Error & Power” opens at Artcore Gallery, Derby (UK), presenting the output of Naho Matsuda and Neale Willis’ residency. For nearly a year, the two artists explored “spaces of chance” and “the potential for mistakes and errors to shape their work,” writes curator Aisling Ward. Matsuda’s Blue Girl, for example, reimagines the ‘learning test’ of Stanley Milgram’s Obedience Experiment, while Willis’ placement of .JPG and Untitled computer equipment (image) manifests symbols of cybernetic serendipity.
Showcasing artists including Chim↑Pom, Hasan Elahi, and Eisa Jocson, “Adorable Big Brother: On Never Being Able to be Alone Again” opens at the ACC in Gwangju (KR). Ambivalent in tone, the exhibition explores surveillance “from production to consumption, control to exclusion.” Zheng Mahler’s 3D animation The Master Algorithm (2019), for example, sardonically embodies China’s technocratic AI arms race and social credit system as Qiu Hao, a virtual figure that “mutates, grows and disappears into clouds of data.”
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