Wor­ship­ping tech­nol­ogy in a tem­ple of art

Shanghai Daily - - ART - Wang Jie Q: This ex­hi­bi­tion cel­e­brates the 13th an­niver­sary of MoCA. What’s spe­cial about it? (Wang Jie)

When ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence ap­pears at the cen­ter of an art ex­hi­bi­tion, you have to ad­mit that the cu­ra­tor must have some guts. It is not easy to jux­ta­pose high art with fu­tur­is­tic tech­nol­ogy.

“Mind Tem­ple” fea­tures works by 20 artists from home and abroad, and dares vis­i­tors to en­ter into a meta­phys­i­cal dia­logue with the sta­tus quo.

The ex­hi­bi­tion at the Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art at Peo­ple’s Park also cel­e­brates the 13th an­niver­sary of China’s first pri­vate art gallery.

At the en­trance to the ex­hi­bi­tion stands the colos­sal “Mind Tem­ple” it­self, an in­stal­la­tion cre­ated by cal­li­graphic per­former Wang Dongling and an AI team.

The work pro­poses that when tra­di­tional cul­ture meets new tech­nol­ogy some­thing is lost and some­thing is gained. There is both in­her­i­tance and dis­rup­tion.

The mu­seum’s sec­ond floor is oc­cu­pied by 398 an­droids. “Win­dows to the Soul” is an ex­change of glances and stares be­tween hu­man and man-made eyes which asks new ques­tions about per­cep­tion. We no longer look pas­sively at a work of art. The art can now look back at us.

It is not just the art it­self which makes use of AI, guide ro­bots pro­vide an en­tirely new vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence based on the ap­pli­ca­tion of science.

Bio­science and tech­nol­ogy help artists ex­plore the ul­ti­mate topic of ex­is­tence. Videog­ra­phy and in­ter­ac­tive in­stal­la­tions dis­cuss is­sues such as DNA engi­neer­ing, cell re­pro­duc­tion and cos­mic shifts, ques­tion­ing the pur­suit of im­mor­tal­ity by tech­ni­cal means.

Miriam Sun, cu­ra­tor of the ex­hi­bi­tion and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of MoCA, spoke with Shang­hai Daily about her hopes for the ex­hi­bi­tion.

A: “Mind Tem­ple” em­braces an­thro­po­log­i­cal top­ics by pro­vid­ing a per­spec­tive that con­nects science and art, in­jects multi-dis­ci­plinary dy­nam­ics into con­tem­po­rary art and ex­pands the bound­aries of artis­tic ex­plo­ration and ex­pres­sion.

The ex­hi­bi­tion fuses ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence with art, ques­tion­ing how tech­nol­ogy will (or will not) change the na­ture of art.

By re­fer­ring to Martin Hei­deg­ger’s ar­gu­ments, we hope to re­turn to the field of “aletheia (re­al­ity),” cov­er­ing and un­cov­er­ing, while ques­tion­ing tech­nol­ogy. knock­ing at the door. Are you ready?

Whether dumb­founded by Al­phaGo or daunted by HBO’s “West­world,” we are wit­ness­ing chaotic change in art, in our lives and in how we think of so­ci­ety.

A: Sim­ply keep­ing up with the times. Bal­anc­ing art and science and how to dis­cuss tech­nol­ogy with pro­fes­sional artists, how to push or drag them out of their com­fort zones, to make them do things that the oth­ers haven’t done. I like the lines (by Egyp­tian Greek poet Con­stan­tine Peter Cavafy) “As you set out for Ithaka, hope your road is a long one, full of ad­ven­ture, full of dis­cov­ery.”

A: Oh, it’s too dif­fi­cult to just choose one piece. All the work on dis­play are the prod­ucts of deep dis­cus­sion and ex­plo­ration. Each piece is a trea­sure. All the artists to­gether made it pos­si­ble for us to open this mind tem­ple.

A: I have forced my­self to read books on new sub­jects and vis­ited sci­en­tists, an­thro­pol­o­gists, mu­si­cians, religious lead­ers and big data ex­perts. I have dis­cov­ered new as­pects to my vi­sion and my spir­i­tu­al­ity.

It was a jour­ney to Ithaka (a Greek is­land in the sea), filled with dif­fi­culty and chal­lenge. I am grate­ful to ev­ery one of my team who ac­com­pa­nied me on this crazy trip.

A: Con­tem­po­rary art has al­ways been and will al­ways be the DNA of MoCA. Art has no bound­aries. “Cross­over+” will open un­lim­ited artis­tic com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the pub­lic.

Paint­ings fea­ture his­tor­i­cal changes

AS MoCA in the Peo­ple’s Park cel­e­brated its 13th birthday, a new art gallery was born nearby on the Bund.

Shang­hai Jiu Shi Bund Art Mu­seum opened last month, oc­cu­py­ing 1,400 square me­ters on the sixth floor of The House of Roo­sevelt, one of the his­tor­i­cal build­ings on the Bund.

“Sym­phony of the Cen­tury — Oil Paint­ings of the His­tor­i­cal Changes of the Bund,” the open­ing ex­hi­bi­tion, per­fectly echoes with the view over the Huangpu River out­side the win­dows.

The ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tures oil paint­ings by a group of artists from Shang­hai that re­flect the many changes that have taken place along the Bund in the last cen­tury, and will run through Jan­uary.

Ac­cord­ing to Gong De­qing, pres­i­dent of Shang­hai Jiu Shi Group, “this mu­seum pro­vides a op­por­tu­nity for more or­di­nary peo­ple to step into the his­tor­i­cal build­ing and ap­pre­ci­ate art at the Bund, rais­ing the qual­ity of the pub­lic ser­vices of­fered by a state-owned com­pany.

For the fu­ture, we are think­ing about the pos­si­bil­ity of open­ing more space in­side these beau­ti­ful build­ings on the Bund for pub­lic art dis­plays.”

“River with­out Ranks, No.3” by artist Fei Yun­fei — Cour­tesy of MoCA

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