Strategist Patrick Tanguay weighs in on the metaverse, moving beyond stock claims on and critiques of the term. The problem, with ‘the metaverse,’ is it’s whatever you want it to be; VR or videogame developers see problems of interaction and immersion, crypto boosters and the web3 crowd see economic empowerment and decentralization. Here, Tanguay uses the early days of the web to think about open standards and platform capitalism, and his reading is better off for it. Of note: his description of “a full world, at movie quality,” which imagines the blockbuster media property as a new kind of persistent experience. He is spot-on, in stating “the merging of the tools and interim steps are actually much more interesting … and offer much more varied potential than those 4-5-6 futures currently vying for the word metaverse.”
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“Chronos/Synthesis,” a solo show by Canadian artist Oliver Pauk, opens at Toronto’s J Spot Gallery. For the window gallery show, Pauk presents an array of 3D printed, CNC milled, and hand carved sculptures alongside video and AR works. The selection underscores two driving interests: rendering pure digital form, and his efforts “to replicate the patterns and aesthetics of automated, computerized processes” in more traditional mediums (image: Object #90, 2017).
The 6th edition of the International Digital Art Festival & Biennial (BIAN) opens at Arsenal Contemporary Art Montreal. Co-curated by Alain Thibault and DooEun Choi, the show’s theme of ‘mutation’ is at play in splashy works including Jonathan Schipper’s Slow Motion Car Crash (2009, image) and Bill Vorn’s robot burlesque Copacabana Machine Sex (2018, image upper right). Yunchul Kim, Ying Gao, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Lu Yang, and 21 others contribute works.
After exploring “Water” in a major 2019-20 exhibition, the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) opens “Air,” a showcase with more than 30 artists including Dora Budor, Nancy Holt, and Katie Paterson that explore the cultural, ecological, and political dimensions of Earth’s atmosphere. “Air” is anchored by Tomás Saraceno’s Drift: A cosmic web of thermodynamic rhythms (2022, image), a new commission that suspends 13 partially mirrored spheres in GOMA’s central atrium space.
“ON AIR: The Sound of the Material in the Art of the 1950s to 1970s,” an exhibition excavating the pre-history of contemporary sound art, opens at Kaiser Wilhelm Museum in Krefeld, Germany. Assemblies, experiments, and media by Joseph Beuys, Bruce Nauman, David Tudor, and co-presenter Museum Tinguely’s namesake Jean Tinguley, demonstrate how “sounds, tones, noises, signals, and voices became ‘substantial’ sculptural material” in the second half of the 20th century.
A project of Wm (Bill) Perry, “LOST & FOUND Telidon art of the early ’80s,” opens at Toronto’s Cameron House. Presenting limited edition prints of videotex art made on Telidon (1978-85, Canada’s precursor to the world wide web), Perry resurfaces both an overlooked early digital art movement—predating net.art by a decade—and the burgeoning creative networks that founded Canada’s first media and electronic art-focused artist run centres (image: Robin Collyer Cameraman, 1981).
American software artist Everest Pipkin releases The Barnacle Goose Experiment, an “abiogenesis body horror idle clicker” where you play as researcher Dr. Evergreen G. Branca locked in a biodome and tasked with generating a working world with objects, music, and living things out of her own body. The browser game is inspired by the medieval barnacle goose myth that had people, then unaware of bird migration patterns, believe that geese emerge fully-formed from barnacles.
“Unsupervised,” a solo show by artist Refik Anadol opens at New York’s MoMA. Working with the metadata for the museum’s 130,000 artworks, the Turkish-American artist’s eponymous AI model (image) fluidly morphs through the latent aesthetic space of the collection. Viewers revel in flowing transitions between myriad possible artworks, the experience subtly intensified by camera, microphone, and local climate data-informed real-time interactivity, tweets Anadol.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clears “slaughter-free” lab-grown chicken by California-based Upside Foods (image) as safe for consumption. The approval caps a decade of research to bring lab-grown meat substitutes to market, in hopes of reducing both factory farming’s carbon footprint and the cruelty of industrialized poultry production. “Now we shift focus towards what really matters in this industry, which is scale up,” says Good Food Institute scientist Liz Specht.
“DO COMPUTERS WORRY YOU,” an exhibition of recent work by Canadian artist Matt Nish-Lapidus opens at Toronto’s Collision Gallery. Presented alongside “Greenlight: Carlaw,” a companion exhibition by Simon Fuh, Nish-Lapidus deploys assemblies of custom networks and Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) combining “industrial and domestic materials, found texts, and bespoke algorithms” into a materialized polemic for more poetic (and personal) modes of computation.
Daniel Franke’s CGI short Ich sitze in der Wolke (2022) premieres at the Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival in Kassel, Germany. In his film, the German artist and researcher takes viewers deep into the digital cloud, a GAN-generated post-nature dreamscape where semiconductors, bitcoins, electricity, rare earth minerals, and crystals manifest to force questions about “environmental sin and digital evolution.”
German artist and designer Philipp Schmitt publishes Blueprints for Intelligence, a “visual history of artificial neural networks from 1943 to 2020.” Compiling 56 diagrams sourced from machine learning research papers, the web project invites visitors to trace key tendencies in AI evolution. “It draws connections between the visual representations of neural networks and the researchers’ conception of cognition,” Schmitt writes in his introduction.
Probing for human qualities that escape capture in AI training datasets, Lauren Lee McCarthy and Kyle McDonald’s new collaboration Unlearning Language (2022) opens at the Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media (YCAM), Japan. Both an experiential performance—“a one-act play for four,” as described by McDonald—and an interactive installation, the American artists (with support from Rhizomatiks) conjure a “futuristic AI that tries to help us become more human.”
“DATA STREAMING,” featuring late Luxembourgish artist Michel Majerus, opens at Kunstverein in Hamburg. Lost to a 2002 plane crash, Majerus made waves in the dotcom era for playfully integrating digital images—videogames, animation, desktop publishing—into his paintings. Now, a major retrospective sees Kunstverein and 12 German museums mounting exhibitions reviewing the artist’s work “with the hindsight of artistic and technological developments of the past twenty years.”
“Timefall,” a solo exhibition by Spanish artist Karlos Gil, opens at The Hague’s 1646. Designed to evoke the archetypal image of the cave, the exhibition centres Hollow Ghost (2022, image), video depicting the vernacular of contemporary caves—data farms, seed vaults, doomsday bunkers—in all their liminal (and terminal) glory. More mythos: also featured is a Jacquard loom-woven tapestry series, each depicting the sonic frequencies of a “fantastic” animal (cyclops, mermaid, etc.).
Swiss artist and designer Jürg Lehni celebrates the 20th anniversary of his seminal robotic drawing machine, Hektor (2002), in a commemorative Twitter thread. “Imperfect and full of character,” the hanging computer-controlled spray-paint plotter drew at transmediale, Design Museum London, and the MoMA, and remains a DIY marvel for its time: “edged circuit boards, assembly-programmed microcontrollers—we did everything by hand,” Lehni notes about making in the pre-fab era.
As the lacklustre presentation of NFTs even at major exhibitions and conferences continues to disappoint, Swiss software artist Andreas Gysin shares an “opinionated” mini-guide for newly-minted curators and organizers. Works that use the popular square aspect ratio, for example, suffer in particular on standard 16:9 screens, Gysin notes and offers three simple tricks that improve the overall composition. “The important thing is to NOT put it in the center!” (example on left).
The V&A launches an online resource to explore their 3,000+ item Digital Art & Design collection. Thus far 574 items are posted, with initial highlights including Vera Molnar’s plotter drawing Structure of Squares (1974) and Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s Radical Love (2016), a 3D-printed mask of Chelsea Manning’s face. Additional tools for researchers include two ‘selection boxes’ of noteworthy items, an incisive history of digital art, and a glossary of technical nomenclature.
Artists Vladan Joler, Gordan Savičić, and scholar Felix Stalder launch Infrastructures of a Migratory Bird (2022), a data visualization of rewilding efforts of the Northern Bald Ibis in the European Alps. The iconic bird, regionally extinct since 1621, was reintroduced into its historic habitat in 2013. Hatched within ZHdK’s Latent Spaces research project, the map reveals the extent of the conservation infrastructure, from GPS satellite tracking, to data analysis, to cost.
For Artnet, Vivienne Chow delves into South Korean projections of ‘soft power’ in the cultural sector. Patrons of recent exhibitions worldwide, South Korean corporations are praised for “listening to what we want to do,” by LACMA Director Michael Govan. Of note: Chow’s discussion of Hyundai, who, beyond pumping money into the sector, use the language of digital art (image: Hyundai Motorstudio Goyang) to communicate brand values in concept showrooms worldwide.
Milan’s MEET Digital Culture Center launches a new exhibition series on digital art history with “GMM RELOADED,” a retrospective of the Italian multimedia art group Giovanotti Mondani Meccanici. Active from 1984 to 2004, GMM pioneered the genre of computer comics (using Apple IIs), video art, and performances. The show presents a complete history with all their works as well as an immersive re-actualization of their 1991 video installation Tecnomaya in Infotown.
The first-ever solo exhibition of Brooklyn-based art collective MSCHF opens at Perrotin, New York, presenting elaborate interventions that leverage the absurdity of late-stage capitalism. Transforming the gallery into an interactive strip mall, “No More Tears, I’m Lovin’ It” showcases the group’s art as merchandize. Spot’s Revenge (2022, image), for example, trolls Boston Dynamics with a heavily armed robot dog, after the manufacturer disabled the legally purchased unit remotely.
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