June 11, 2018
Now in its third edition, Art Night continues to support projects at the intersection of art and technology. Visitors will be invited to experience works by a variety of international artists working with new media art. Some of the highly anticipated projects include a virtual reality piece by Miao Ying entitled Happily Contained; Dwelling, an installation by Taiwanese video artist Yuan Goang Ming; and narrated digital journeys through the ShadowMemory app. These projects reflect the growing desire among contemporary artists to adapt new tools to create their work, as well as the phenomenon of cultural institutions exploring emerging new models between physical and virtual space.
New media such as virtual reality, augmented reality or digital applications allow for the creation of art inside virtual reality and digital systems, offering a new discipline at the threshold of painting, sculpture and performance. It offers early adopters an opportunity not only to make art accessible to younger, more digitally savvy visitors, but also to extend an artwork’s reach beyond its physical form to reach global audiences. The work of Art Night particularly drives such accessibility by celebrating diversity, culture, heritage and architecture of London, inviting international artists and audiences to become a part of Art Night.
This year the festival also marks a special point in some of the artist’s careers. Art Night features the first public unveiling of Random International’s new work as well as showcasing the first virtual reality work by Chinese artist Miao Ying.
Self-proclaimed ‘Resident of the Internet’, Miao Ying’s art is considered the forefront of digital innovation in art, opening new medium for understanding the concepts of ideology and value in our everyday lives. With support from EcoWorld Ballymore, her work Happily Contained, a co-commission by Art Night and dslcollection, is installed in the Marketing Suite for the Embassy Gardens development in Nine Elms. The viewer, enabled by a HTC Vive headset and MSI to experience the piece, is immersed in an alternative world, in which they are exposed to a journey in search of utopia and contemporary ideas of home. In this project the use of virtual reality with software by immersive technology agency Somewhere Else allows Ming to invite users to enter her alternative world, through which she challenges them to revisit their understanding of self.
The first public unveiling of Self and Other by London-based art group Random International was commissioned by St James (Berkeley Group) and follows the concept of self-discovery. Specifically, the project explores what human movement can reveal about identity and the relationship we have with our image. Random International, who are working with FUTURE\PACE, have been making work that questions aspects of identity and autonomy in the post-digital age and invites active participation from its audiences. Their internationally acclaimed piece Rain Room entered the collection of LACMA having been exhibited under the museum’s historic Art and Technology initiative. The work Random International will present at Art Night is an LED work which mirrors movement and will be showcased with a dance performance from Studio Wayne McGregor.
Further connections between technology and art will be made through the participation of the ShadowMemory app, presented by GRAD. The application has an innovative concept of inviting its users to experience the urban environments in different and unexpected ways. Six international artists will act as online guides, each transforming conventional transit zones into places of interest with the use of interactive geo-location technology, which will trigger online content. Through individual journeys, users will be able to explore political themes like LGBT movements and the effects of shifting human behavior on local communities, all in creative and accessible ways.
After taking a walk across the Art Night trails of the ShadowMemory app, Art Night visitors might happen upon Hayward Gallery’s al fresco screening of Yuan Goang-Ming’s video work Dwelling. Like Ying’s work, the piece centres around the cultural nuances of ‘home’, the video beginning with an ordinary-looking sitting room. However, Goang-Ming shifts away from the tranquil by introducing a climatic blast that sends objects flying in every direction, before reversing their course and returning to their original position intact. The artist depicts how unthinkable can easily invade the mundane, challenging our understanding of what safety can really mean in the digital age.
Projects unveiled at Art Night offer audiences unique experiences at the confluence of art and technology. While the full potential of new media art is yet to be explored, an underlying theme remains – the digital tools are not necessarily a replacement for traditional arts practices, but rather a parallel space and enhancement vehicle to support the creative process. They allow artists and institutions to transcend political and cultural boundaries, opening space for new developments of artistic creation.
Words: Aleksandra Artamonovskaja @aljaparis