A.T.E. (Art Technology Experiment) is a group exhibition by four international new media artists who approach their work from a compelling and wide range of approaches at the SUNY College, Old Westbury. The title of the exhibition harks back to Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), an important 1960s group of artists and engineers who collaborated to demonstrate the potential for our culture to join artistic and technical exploration. Since then, the possibilities of technology and art have opened up and contemporary artists have increasingly elaborated their artistic practices in regard to their interests in new digital technology, video games, animation, electronic media, cinema, the Internet, et cetera. The artists in this exhibition reflect this tendency while maintaining a connection to the recent past. Bundith Phunsombatlert, a Thai artist who studied printmaking and new media, bridges old and new through interactive installations, one of which considers the perspectives from which authors describe his native city, Bangkok, and later, the viewpoints from which the audience observes and responds to the installation and its collection of books. Cyril Lecomte-Languérand turns to U.S. Conceptual and Minimal artist Sol LeWitt (1928-2007) for inspiration, playfully converting the master’s static systematic wall drawings into old-fashioned moving images. France Languérand applies the numerical system of computer data and software to communicate older media such as cinema and classical music. Hye Rim Lee, Korean-born, New Zealand raised, and recently relocated to New York, investigate their cultural origins within a global context. She has created a female avatar, TOKI (“rabbit” in Korean), a fictional animal/human character that serves as a vehicle for the artist’s investigations into sexuality and female body images. Bringing pre-digital human culture (printed media, drawings, cinema, musical scores, et cetera) to the technology of new media produces such diverse results as the pixilated gray screen in Languérand’s À rebours: Metropolis and the richly fabricated virtual world of Hye Rim Lee’s Crystal City Spun.
Cyril Lecomte-Languérand (b. 1978, France) uses video, new media, and interactive projects to reassess the viewer’s relationship to the exhibition and to works of art. Soul Lewitt (2011-12) is a video game and immersive multimedia environment. While playing the game, the viewer participates in the art by “visiting” a retrospective exhibition of Wall Drawings and Wall Paintings by Minimal artist Sol LeWitt (1928-2007), similar to the one currently on view at MASS MoCA (until 2033). In this work, the sequential variations of geometric patterns so characteristic of Minimal art become graphic variables that provide the game’s background. There is no action beyond “scrolling” through a virtual art exhibition according to restrictive and archaic modes of mobility inspired by earlier generation 2D video games as repetitive electronic music accompanies the game. In contrast to these limitations, there are infinite variations since the visual environment is formally rearranged each time the game is played, thus becoming the game itself. When it is not played, the game fills the room with the image selected by the most recent visitor/gamer.
France Languérand (b. 1979, France) converts word, text, music, and film into data reproduced in endless audio or visual configurations. Her series Poems, begun in 2006 and already numbering in the thousands, is obtained from words randomly selected daily and scrupulously organized in alphabetical order according to the added numerical value of each letter (A = 1, B = 2, C = 3, et cetera). À rebours: BWV 1080 (2005), based on an unfinished piece by J.S. Bach, presents in two musical scores and four original audio tracks that reorganize the musical notes into values of time played by computer software in “grand piano” mode. À rebours: Metropolis (2003-05), a two-channel video based on Fritz Lang’s canonical 1927 film, was created by counting the number of pixels frame by frame and then rearranging them according to their values on the gray scale. Included in the exhibition are the first nine hundred pages of the ledger for À rebours: Metropolis in which the artist recorded the pixels image by image; each page is dated, numbered, and signed by the artist.
Hye Rim Lee (b. Korea, works in New York and New Zealand) explores cyber culture and perceptions of the female body, mainly through 3D animation. Crystal City Spun (2007) is a 3D animation video in which spinning crystal dildo towers merge with playful rabbit sex toys, a white dragon, and TOKI, the artist’s female avatar. Transforming intimate sex objects into a spectacle, Lee creates moving images of an alternate “reality”, thus restoring the romantic notion of the artist as a creator. Crystal Beauty Electro Doll (2005-8), a digital 3D animation is part of the artist’s ongoing series, TOKI/Cyborg Project, focusing on cyber character modeling. Crystal Beauty Electro Doll demonstrates the artist’s three-dimensional digital sculpting of an imaginary female avatar over urban beat electronic music (sound by Jed Town). Female body attributes are particularly emphasized—lips, eyelashes, finger nails, breasts, buttocks, and genitalia—showing body image to be the product of technologized plastic beauty and sexuality that reflects a culture of cosmetic surgery by which a desired body image may be obtained.
Bundith Phunsombatlert (b.1972, Thailand, works in New York) uses interactive media installations as well as video installations to reconsider Thai identity within the framework of globalization while also exploring the trans-modal nature of new media. Wind Study (2009/2012) is an interactive installation of computer fans, microcontroller, sensor, and electric wires meant to operate by human breath. Viewers are invited to participate by blowing a sensor to create a domino effect of electric fans. Wind, here, represents both inhalation and an energy generator that produces electric power. Bangkok: The Story of A City (2005/6) is a video installation of an image of a bookcase in which stacks of books shift one by one. The crashing sound of books falling on one another accompanies the action of the books on screen. In the meantime, a portable library on a nearby book cart carries actual books categorized under the keyword “Bangkok.” The work evokes the idea of a library as a repository of knowledge undergoing transformation from a physical state to a digital state.
Curated by Stéphanie Jeanjean and Hyewon Yi
Lecture Schedule (F 114, Campus Center):
Monday, November 5, 5-6pm: Hye Rim Lee
Monday, November 12, 5-6pm: Stéphanie Jeanjean with Cyril Lecomte-Languérand and France Languérand via Skype
through December 6, 2012
Gallery Hours: Monday through Thursday 12 – 5pm and by appointment
Amelie A. Wallace Gallery, Campus Center, Main Level
SUNY College at Old Westbury
Route 107, Old Westbury
New York 11568