In a post on his blog, designer Matt Webb offers unflinching analysis of the metaverse. Hashing out a rough definition that it is immersive, multiplayer, and has an economy, he challenges some widely held assumptions about what technologies are required (e.g. VR plus crypto does not a metaverse make). Beyond the obligatory Snow Crash vs. Meta commentary, he draws on his former studio’s work during the web 2.0 era and his experience establishing London’s Silicon Roundabout tech cluster, noting how common goals create strange bedfellows. Now, Webb sees the same thing with the metaverse, observing “we have crypto-libertarians tech nerds from Web3 somehow aligned with platform monopolist VR-maximalists from Facebook. Their values couldn’t be more opposed yet they are boosters for the same trend.”
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“The Fable of Net in Earth,” the 2022 ARKO Art & Tech Festival kicks off in Seoul. Inspired by decentralization (mycology, Web3), it brings together Morehshin Allahyari, SunJeong Hwang, and Young Joo Lee, and others. Featured works include Eobchaecoin (2022), Nahee Kim’s unabashedly ponzi cryptocurrency (it will be very profitable in 2082), and De Anima (2018-21, image), Clara Jo’s film probing humanity’s relationship with nature, that draws on footage from Kenya, Myanmar, and France.
A retrospective collecting 40 works by the Australian artist, “Patricia Piccinini: We Are Connected” opens at Singapore’s ArtScience Museum. Showcasing her unsettling sculptures and installations that morph contemporary biopolitics towards the grotesque, the show features works including The Bond (2016, image centre) and The Field (2018, image), which, respectively, depict a mother cradling a human-ish fleshy creature, and a (wildly) genetically modified crop.
Researchers create the world’s first synthetic embryos—no sperm, eggs, or fertilization required. Molecular Geneticist Jacob Hanna and his team accomplished the feat by reprogramming stem cells from mice back to a naïve state, and simulating a placenta’s blood and oxygen requirements with a nutrient solution; the cells self-assembled into embryo-like structures with an intestinal tract, a proto-brain, and a heart. “Our next challenge is to understand how stem cells know what to do,” says Hanna.
N∰menon, an installation by Melle Nieling and Amelie Mckee opens at Künstlerhaus Dortmund. Produced during a Plicnik-Collective summer residency at the German venue, it consists of a series of apparatuses intended to draw attention to the lack of a user. Drawing on video interviews that describe a mysterious event with spiritual and economic resonance, the spartan scene stokes “feelings of paranoid threat, in which the unknown opens the imagination.”
Concluding her PlatteForum residency, Raquel Meyers’ solo exhibition “Concrete Redundancy” opens at the Denver urban art laboratory. Meyers, a Spanish artist known for her work with obsolete technologies, organizes artifacts created with typewriters, teletext, and fax machines into “techno-rubble”—a tribute to Denver7’s soon-to-be-demolished brutalist landmark. “Concrete Redundancy is a tool for the struggle,” the exhibition text states, “an Anthropocene souvenir for the future.”
German duo Mouse on Mars (MoM) performs using ROBODYNAMIC DIFFUSION: RDD (2021, image), as part of “Technobodies,” a program across Munich venues Lenbachhaus, Haus der Kunst, and Museum Brandhorst. Jointly developed by MoM’s Jan St. Werner, Michael Akstaller, Nele Jäger, and Oliver Mayer, RDD is a directional speaker bot that projects sound in a tightly focused beam, creating opportunities to induce “controlled disorientations and sensory redirections” in audiences.
Exploring how medicine and shamanism can begin to blur into one another, “Post-Human Narratives—In the Name of Scientific Witchery” opens in Hong Kong. Featured artists include Betty Apple, Mayumi Hosokura, and Yu Shuk Pui Bobby, with contributed works ranging from Liv Tsim’s biomatter fabrications (2022, image) to Florence Lam’s Zirca, an extremely witchy performance about channeling energy—applying so much of it to materials that they produce light.
Perhaps the first bike-friendly indoor exhibition (cyclists can enter via a ramp), “bike in head” opens at Städtische Galerie Bremen, Germany. Rather than focus on the aesthetic object, included works by Wolfgang Zach, Anne Krönker, Kosuke Masuda, Aram Bartholl and others shift attention to the bicycle’s entanglement with society and self. Bartholl’s Unlock Life (2020, image), for example, stages tossed rental bikes recovered from the bottom of the Spree river.
“It offers access to every file I have, making it an endless rabbit hole,” writes Matylda Krzykowski of Desktop Exhibition: A Curatorial Format (2018, image), in the latest issue of Techniques Journal. For the issue about ‘bordering,’ the Berlin-based deep thinker about space (both online and IRL) ruminates on the intimacy of digital collections, drawing on eclectic references ranging from Elizabethan home layout to Marcel Duchamp’s mini-monograph Boîte-en-valise (1935-41).
Irish CGI artist and filmmaker David OReilly calls OpenAI’s newly announced DALL-E credit system a scam. In an Instagram post (that also circulated widely on Twitter), OReilly argues that paying for an AI image generator trained on uncredited, unpaid creative labour by artists “who never asked to be included in a proprietary learning model” is a “bullshit deal.” “It rips off the past generation for the current one and charges them money for it.”
Combining robotic painting methods with Arabic artisanal practices, Liat Grayver and Nora Al-Badri’s 4-day exhibition “Continuum” opens at Berlin’s transmediale Studio. Together with graffiti artist and computer scientist Daniel Berio, the two Berlin-based media artists explore, reconnect with, and reappropriate the aesthetic(al) heritage of their families’ Baghdad origins through the computational reproduction of calligraphy and ornamentation.
Deji Art Museum in Nanjing, China, opens with its inaugural exhibition “In the Line of Flight, for Possible Worlds.” Presenting installations, video, and interactive works by key artists including Pierre Huyghe, Tomás Saraceno, and “father of Chinese video art” Zhang Peili, curator Zhang Ga creates a “post-pandemic microcosm” for reflection. Peili’s XL Chamber (2017, image), for example, is an algorithmic ‘trap’ whose shutter doors open and close randomly.
“These withering years are killing trees,” writes climate and ecosystem researcher Daniel Griffin in the New York Times opinion pages. Not your usual op-ed, Griffin’s analysis is bolstered by graphics from Nathaniel Lash, that pan horizontally across the rings of a 500-year-old Mount Pinos Douglas fir, charting its 1538 saplinghood through stifling droughts over the centuries to, troublingly, its missing rings and slivers of growth in several post-2010 years.
Celebrating the 90th anniversary of the birth of the trailblazing Korean American media artist, “Nam June Paik: Super Baroque” opens in Seoul. Featuring late career works, it includes Sistine Chapel (1993), Paik’s Venice Biennale media architecture ‘update’ to Michelangelo’s frescoes, his similarly architecture-focused Baroque Laser (1995), and the primary coloured reimagination of One Candle (1998, image) with a video camera and five CRT projectors.
In his ongoing pursuit of automating his artistic practice, Swedish artist Jonas Lund turned to AI to self-replicate into an army. Feeding a respective text prompt to OpenAI’s DALL-E 2, a sea of Lunds emerged, making art on laptops in signature blue shirts and hats. “Me and my 50+ clones working in the studio on the next master piece,” he writes on Twitter as concerns over AI-powered image generators impacting artists negatively become ever louder.
Bringing her RGB eccentricity to French Canada, Sara Ludy’s solo exhibition “Swimmer’s Canyon” opens at Art Mûr Montréal. In the titular VR piece, curated by Samuel Arsenault-Brassard, the American artist and composer sends viewers on a journey “through a star-filled canyon to a swimming hole, presenting a world populated by the absurd and the unknown.” Not in Montréal? The six VR scenes included can be viewed—and owned—as NFTs as well.
Featuring 100 works by international designers and artists, “Unknown Unknowns,” an exhibition “whose boundaries are hazy and permeable” opens at Triennale Milano. Curated by astrophysicist Ersilia Vaudo, the show features new commissions from designer Irene Stracuzzi, architects SOM, and artist Refik Anadol. A fourth, Yuri Suzuki’s Sound of the Earth: Chapter 3 (2022, image), is a globe comprised of 300 speakers that play an ambient megamix of crowdsourced geotagged field recordings.
“And if we’re in a race between bad catastrophe and some kind of beginning prosperity for all—when you’re in a race that intense, you don’t want to sit down on the ground and start crying. ‘Oh, we’ve lost already.’ That would be a bad thing to do, because you’re in a race.”
“The usual stories about disability teach us that disability is the exception when in fact it is the rule,” writes Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, introducing freshly published Manual 17. The credo carries through the issue of the RISD Museum periodical (its theme: ‘variance’), which includes a rumination on how body mods and tattoos are a form of Crip Futurism, and an ode to the ingenuity of the plywood leg splint Charles and Ray Eames designed during WW2 (1941-2, image).
“Machine Bodies (Is Cyborg Good or Evil?),” the flagship exhibition for Vector Festival, opens in Toronto. Curated by Karina Iskandarsjah, the show considers the post-AI body. Featured are Xuan Ye’s What Lets Lethargy Dream Produces Lethargy’s Surplus Value (2020), which examines the datafication of sleep, and works by LA Birdwatchers and Madeleine Lychek that abstract predictive policing (image, background) and machine learning misinterpretation (bottom).
Fusing virtuality and Persian Lore, the online exhibition “PHOENIX FROM THE ASHES“ opens at Cologne’s Priska Pasquer Gallery. For it, Iranian artist Mohsen Hazrati has created an allegorical space for reflection, over which its titular winged creature hovers; the phoenix also evokes the mythical Simurgh, a virtuous Persian “symbol for self-knowledge.“ Curated by Tina Sauerlaender, the show is accompanied by an NFT edition that captures its avian protagonist in flight (image).
A collaboration between Berlin’s panke.gallery and LA’s JAUS, “Post Cinema” opens at Open Mind Art Space in Los Angeles. Exploring common themes across recent media history—from TV to VR—works by Berlin-based (Nadja Buttendorf, Esben Holk, Cornelia Sollfrank) and LA-based artists (Petra Cortright, Julie Orser, Peter Wu) echo “dreams of global utopia,” whether broadcast over airwaves, electronic superhighways, or streamed directly from the cloud.
Showcasing four women-identifying artists whose practices address feminized robots, “Can You Fuck It?” opens at Tokyo’s Ningen Gallery. Curator Elena Knox, Allison de Fren, Mika Kan (image: The Silent Woman, 2017), and Lin Xin’s contributed works—spanning documentary to digital illustration—demonstrate that “women’s ideas must begin to be acknowledged alongside those that present objectified feminine embodiment as a fait accompli,” writes Knox in her curatorial essay.
“Ornamental Spaces,” a show featuring vintage works by late computer art pioneer Georg Nees, opens in Berlin. The exhibition showcases Nees’ prescience on two fronts: first, with works from “Bilder Images Digital” (a 1986 exhibition at Munich’s Galerie der Künstler) generated by a Lisp program in response to user questions; secondly, for context, screenprints related to his PhD research on Generative Computergraphik (shown at “Computer Graphics” in Stuttgart, 1965).
Martin Bricelj Baraga’s latest Cyanometer (2016–) is unveiled in front of Geneva’s Museum of History of Science, the very institution that keeps Horace Bénédict de Saussure’s original instrument from 1789. Fourth in a growing network of distributed public sculptures, Baraga’s reflective monolith measures (and archives) the blueness of the sky as well as air pollution, allowing for comparative analysis between the cities of Ljubljana, Wrocław, Dresden, and now Geneva.
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