Lawrence Lek, Unreal Estate
This November 2016 marks five years since the launch of Sedition. In celebration, we initiated a Twitter conversation with curators, artist, and collectors with our network to find out more about the most exciting aspects of the present and future of art and tech.
One of the questions we sent into the Twittersphere was “Who are your favourite digital artists from the past 5 years?” Here are the results including works by artists who engage with digital media – and question the cultural and social use that such media leads to – in inspiring and innovative ways. In this post, we’ll look more closely at the work of each of the top artists recommended by leaders in the field of digital art and culture.
Estela Oliva / @es_stela
Independent curator, founder of Alpha-ville
Olafur Eliasson, Weather Project
Olafur Eliasson’s large scale immersive works deal with the sensory, embodiment and perception. He aims to create spaces for collective experience; perhaps the best known example of this is the Weather Project (2003), which replicated the vastness of the sun and the power of the elements within Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. He is also known for his monumental light installations and for large scale interventions such as his 1998 work Green River at Berlin Biennial. As well as being highlighted by Estela Oliva, Eliasson was also chosen as a favourite artist by Memo Akten and Alain Servais.
LaTurbo Avedon is an artist who exists without a real world referent – whose identity is constructed online in the form of an avatar. The artist exists digitally; her works are sculptures exhibited in virtual space. Her virtual pieces engage with the practice and critique of digitally mediated authorship. She is currently exhibiting work at the Whitney Museum in Lorna Mills’ multi-artist work Ways of Something, part of the Dreamlands immersive cinema exhibition.
Sougwen Chung’s practice explores the point of transition or exchange between human and machine, analogue and digital. Her work is interdisciplinary and navigates between software, light and sound composition and robotics as well as more traditional media such as paper and ink. In 2015 her performance D.O.U.G_1 (Drawing Operations Unit Generation 1), in which the artist draws collaboratively with a robot, won the Excellence Award at the Japan Media Arts Festival.
Ryoichi Kurokawa’s immersive audiovisual environments explore the tension between the abstract and the concrete, the actual and the artificial (read our 2015 interview with Kurokawa where you can find his practice in more detail). In 2016 he presented a major solo exhibition, unfold, at FACT Liverpool through which he collaborated with astrophysicists to produce representations of the birth of stars based on data collected from deep space.
Alain Servais / @aservais1
Digital art collector
Previously a student of Olafur Eliasson, Julian Charrière spends time working in remote parts of the planet and weaves his insights – in the form of temporal arrangements, spatial configurations and materials – into his sculptures and installations. He also intervenes directly in nature – on one notable occasion applying the colours of kingfishers to pigeons in Venice during the 2012 Biennale. His work connects research in the fields of biology, geology, history and physics and is concerned with the power and patterning of time. In 2016 he exhibited his first UK solo exhibition at Parasol Unit.
Josh Kline’s artistic practice builds dystopian multimedia installations by augmenting and fragmenting contemporary cultural and political artefacts – objects, video clips and other fragments loaded with meaning are updated to tell new stories. In his first solo exhibition he created an alternative universe in which politicians apologised for their actions, using actors and real-time face substitution. Through the use of digital techniques he subverts current forms of power, simultaneously questioning them and building responses by creating hybrids of the current and the alternative.
With a practice spanning augmented reality, video games and installation, Ian Cheng plays with the relationship between reality and simulation by creating digital environments populated with digital beings. By producing artworks which “begin with basic programmed properties but are left to self-evolve without authorial control or end” (Interview Magazine, 2015) Cheng explores the uncertainty, anxiety and possibility generated when culture is mediated by algorithms; the characters he creates, meanwhile, create their own enquiry into the not-exactly-evolutionary behaviour of algorithms in action.
Helen Marten’s sculptures are complex visual and spatial essays which repurpose everyday objects in new, linguistic, configurations. These configurations produce environments in which usually overlooked characteristics of – and relationships between – objects can be seen and misinterpretations become reinterpretations. In 2016, Marten exhibited at the Serpentine Gallery, won the inaugural Hepworth Sculpture Prize and was recipient of the prestigious Turner Prize.
For over a decade Eva and Franco Mattes have co-ordinated art projects which disrupt and comment on prevailing infrastructures. Past projects have involved a computer virus released at the Venice Biennale and a slideshow of images appropriated from personal computers through use of a software glitch. In 2016 the artist duo presented solo show Abuse Standard Violations, which looked at the role of content moderators, at Carroll/Fletcher gallery in London.
Memo Akten / @memotv
Artist and creative technologist
Geoffrey Lillemon’s work has origins in surrealism and is situated within the net-art movement. His work collides together the imaginary and the real by reinterpreting classical artistic practices and themes using new technologies. His 2016 works included Bitmap Banshees, a techno-glitter VR thriller game installation, and The Nail Polish Inferno, a “Virtual Reality Retrospective Strip Club Nightmare set in Bubblegum Hell.”
Geoffrey Lillemon, The Nail Polish Inferno
Lauren McCarthy’s work uses software and social interaction to explore intimacy, crowd behaviour, identity formation and the quirks and practicalities of being a person in the age of algorithms. Her practice combines art, design and computer science methods, and has been exhibited at Ars Electronica, LACMA, and the Japan Media Arts Festival.
Grayson Perry is a UK artist who engages with a combination of traditional and new production techniques to produce contemporary social commentary woven into tapestries or carved into clay. He is interested in decreasing the space between ‘low’ and ‘high’ art and in challenging mainstream notions of identity and culture in an accessible way.
Kytten Janae is a US-based online avatar and meme artist whose work synthesises the human and the alien. She makes colourful, playful, ephemeral saccharine and incisive artworks which are at home in the virtual world. Her work is a comment on how we construct our identities, communicate and interact online.
Furry Friends 2015 from kyttenjanae on Vimeo
Addie Wagenknecht’s work consistently evades any neat definition. Rather than fitting clearly with a particular discipline or conceptual framework, she instead resides in the spaces between categories, critiquing the structures and materials she works with. She is the founder of DeepLab and is represented by bitforms gallery.
POSTmatter / @POSTmatter
Magazine focusing on the convergence of the digital and physical world
Lawrence Lek’s works produce uncanny virtual worlds which both replicate, and depart from, real-world locations. His production methods incorporate video game and architectural software. His long-term project Bonus Levels creates fictional scenarios which occur in digitally-rendered versions of cultural institutions; where each scenario is part of a larger alternative map of the art world.
Holly Herndon is a composer and sonic artist who uses MaxMSP to produce custom sounds from digital renderings of instruments and vocal processes. Her compositions jump between genres and techniques, producing surprising collisions, fragmentations and syntheses. She has worked extensively with the Dutch design and art studio Metahaven.
John Gerrard uses real-time computer graphics technologies to create 3D simulations, often hyper-real and referencing real world industrial structures. His work engages with the power these structures possess and the way it unfolds. The softwares he uses to produce his renderings were, like many others, developed initially for military use; his choice of media is part of his constructed interrogation of contemporary politics.
Flag (Thames), John Gerrard, 2016
Marguerite Humeau is a French artist whose work spans and connects numerous worlds; physical and digital, animal, vegetable and mineral. She explores the (im)possibility of reaching, mapping and communicating with distant, different and alien beings. Her sculptures, installations and interventions combine biological research, design methods and science fiction.
Cohen & Van Balen are an artist duo who investigate the aesthetics of industry. Based in London, they explore the cultural and ethical ramifications of manufacturing practices and the role and significance of manufacturing. Their work, which encompasses installation, sculpture and photography, has been displayed at FACT Liverpool, Arts Catalyst (London), ICC (Tokyo) and Kunstverein Dusseldorf.