a_strict, Morando, 2021, courtesy 180 Studios

LUX is the second project in the ongoing LG OLED ART | SELF-LIT GALLERY series. The exhibition is organised by SUUM Project in collaboration with Fact and presented at 180 Studios. The exhibition runs until 18 December 2021.

LUX is an exhibition of contemporary media art, featuring a diverse selection of twelve international artists whose work blurs the boundaries between the physical and virtual worlds; creatives working with the latest audio-visual technology to explore the boundaries of interactive, fully immersive art.

LUX, from the Latin for ‘light’, is an exhibition about light and perception; an exploration of what happens when light becomes the primary subject matter of art, graduating from being a ‘facilitator’ of our sight, to the main protagonist, and what happens to our perception when that jump is made. It is only due to recent technological advancements that light moves from being a facilitator of visual arts to the subject matter itself. Much of this underlying technology has only become easily accessible to artists in the last five to ten years. Tools like 3D projection mapping, neural networks, quantum computing, game engines, open source VFX software, algorithmic visualisation, or OLED screens were once the preserve of production studios, research centres or the military.

This exhibition moves beyond the aesthetics and novelty often associated with this new genre of art to twelve artists at the forefront of this new wave. These expert manipulators of light challenge our constructed categories between the natural and the artificial, the arts and sciences, the physical and the digital, between humanity and technology and open up new ways to perceive our place in the world. LUX intends to shed light on the world in dark times, stimulating all the senses and encouraging visitors to fully engage with the vast space of 180 Studios.

As visitors descend into the depths of 180 Studios’ cavernous spaces, the first work they encounter is Flower Meadow, a major new OLED work by Swiss collective iart studio, commissioned by LG. Taking inspiration from nature’s never-ending life cycle of growth and decay that creates the baseline for new species, the studio has developed non-fungible flowers that are fed through artificial intelligence and create new and unique sets each day.

iart studio, Flower Meadow, 2021, Courtesy 180 Studios
iart studio, Flower Meadow, 2021, Courtesy 180 Studios

Visitors then walk through London-based artist Es Devlin’s new large-scale, site-specific work BLUESKYWHITE. Conceived as a sculptural expression of our emotional response to the possible extinction of the blue sky, and commissioned by 180 Studios, the work draws on recent studies on the potential bleaching of the sky from blue to white by proposed geo-engineering solutions to global heating. As the viewer walks into Devlin’s vertical monolith, they enter a 24-metre light tunnel that modulates from portrait to landscape, illuminating the space from blue to white and through some speculative future sunset hues.

Es Devlin, BLUESKYWHITE, 2021, photo Es Devlin, courtesy 180 Studios
Es Devlin, BLUESKYWHITE, 2021, photo Es Devlin, courtesy 180 Studios

Korean-born artist Je Baak’s Universe is a virtual piece developed from previous work titled The Structure Of. The work employs surreal expressiveness to depict human emotions that are subjected to algorithms and produced in physical forms. The video shows an organism made of different structures at an amusement park or a mechanical device with glowing colours, drifting into space. The work is intended to challenge AI’s ability to interpret human emotion through the principle of cause and effect. In doing so, it raises a question on the relationship between humans and technology and asks what makes us human.

London and Berlin-based art collective Random International presents new work Algorithmic Swarm Study (Triptych). The work, made up of three separate OLED screens, shows an autonomous and synchronised swarm which is spatially aware of the physical boundaries of its digital habitat, exhibiting behavioural traits that change over time in response to the viewer.

Julianknxx presents Black Corporeal (Between This Air), a new short film that examines the relationship between materiality and the black psyche. Exploring the idea that our ability to breathe – an act that is continuously challenged by everything from air pollution, stress, anxiety and societal prejudice – is more than our lungs’ ability to take in air, but a reflection of the way we live individually and together. The film looks at the cyclical nature of breathing and the potential of finding both peace and epiphany through this process and is commissioned by 180 Studios.

Julianknxx, Black Corporeal (Breathe), 2021 - courtesy 180 Studios
Julianknxx, Black Corporeal (Breathe), 2021 – courtesy 180 Studios

Acclaimed Korean collective a’strict then presents the first of two works in the exhibition. New work Morando comprises a two-channel transparent OLED video installation depicting glowing peonies that bloom repeatedly, reminding us that life travels through birth, life, death, and rebirth.

a_strict, Morando, 2021, courtesy 180 Studios
a_strict, Morando, 2021, courtesy 180 Studios

German artist Carsten Nicolai presents Unicolour, the 2014 iteration of his series of works displaying a collection of visualisations. The installation unidisplay offers an examination of laws of perception of the semiotics of signs. The installation includes 16 modules and examines the psychology of colour perception. Originally from Argentina and now based in Paris, Cecilia Bengolea presents Favourite Positions, an animated sculptural video series that suggests a “body without boundaries” – a fully liquid being inspired by the mind of an octopus.

German filmmaker and artist Hito Steyerl showcases the UK debut of This is the Future, a video installation first shown at the 58th Venice Biennale. The work, co-commissioned by 180 Studios, features digital flowers generated by neural networks: computer systems modelled on the human brain and nervous system, which are programmed to predict the future by calculating the next frame in the video. The installation is inspired by the idea of a ruderal garden: an ensemble of plants that grow out of waste ground, perhaps in the wake of human disruption or destruction. Predicted by Steyerl’s neural networks as a vision of the future, this environment is a garden rich with plants that have various ecological, medicinal and political powers.

New York-based Chinese artist Cao Yuxi unveils Shan Shui Paintings By AI | 人工智能山水图, a new media art series that uses the artificial intelligence style ‘deep learning’ algorithm to memorise tens of thousands of pixel data from different styles of oriental freehand ink paintings. Using the learned data model, the AI is then able to automatically draw and create new and unlimited landscape paintings without restrictions and with interesting visual effects.

Cao Yuxi, Shan Shui Paintings By AI, 2020, Courtesy 180 Studios
Cao Yuxi, Shan Shui Paintings By AI, 2020, Courtesy 180 Studios

UK-based digital art practice Universal Everything presents Transfiguration (2020). The film features a giant walking figure that sets off on a journey with no ultimate destination. As he travels, he undergoes metamorphic change – from water to fire, to lava, before cooling to solidify into rock. Transfiguration (2020) is a reworking of the Universal Everything studio classic The Transfiguration (2011). Now completely remade using the latest procedural visual effects software, the updated CGI artwork brings new life to the ever-evolving walking figure, with a new foley-based soundtrack by Simon Pyke.

a_strict, Starry Beach, 2020, courtesy 180 Studios
a_strict, Starry Beach, 2020, courtesy 180 Studios

LUX: New Wave of Contemporary Art is on view until the 18th of December.

Info is extracted from the press release.

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