MAXXI – National Museum of 21st Century Arts
October 20, 2018 – February 24, 2019
Via Guido Reni, 4/a, 00196 Rome, Italy
Curated by Bartolomeo Pietromarchi, LOW FORM explores the technological and surreal imaginary creations of 16 international contemporary artists through computer-generated dreams, creative algorithms and avatars that question the meaning of existence.
Featured artists are Cécile B. Evans, Zach Blas & Jemima Wyman, Carola Bonfili, Ian Cheng, Pakui Hardware, Jamian Juliano-Villani, Avery K Singer, Nathaniel Mellors & Erkka Nissinen, Trevor Paglen, Agnieszka Polska, Jon Rafman, Lorenzo Senni, Cheyney Thompson, Luca Trevisani, Anna Uddenberg and Emilio Vavarella.
An avatar that asks itself about the meaning of life, two robots exploring the relationship between man and machine, a live simulation that self-replicates infinitely, constructing ever-different worlds, Rubens’ Bellona obsessively redrawn by a piece of software, stock market trends that become the colors in abstract paintings.
Debate on Themes and Issues Associated With Humanity’s Relationship With Technology
LOW FORM is not just an exhibition but a workshop for study and debate on themes and issues associated with humanity’s relationship with technology and the incredible scenarios opened up by its evolution. A broad-based approach that will develop a rich program of encounters, featuring international experts and academics such as Padre Paolo Benanti, Luciano Floridi and the artist Jon Rafman, a video review and a new publication from cura.books.
All are leading exponents of the Millennial Generation, explorers of a new imaginary produced by the evolution of artificial intelligence and prompted by the on-going digital revolution, they share an interest in producing dystopian visions of the present and the future.
Capable of shifting between diverse and transverse cultural references, and influenced by globalized culture and the contamination between disciplines, their work – hybrid creations that weave visual, digital and sound elements – represents a Surrealism for the 21st century that explores technological subconscious, automatic processes, creative algorithms and Deep Dream technology.
Immersive, Multimedia and Multisensory Display: More Than 20 Large Installations
LOW FORM makes real the virtual panorama in which the artists are immersed to present, in an immersive, multimedia and multisensory display, more than 20 large installations. These include im here to learn so :))))) (2017) by Zach Blas & Jemima Wyman, which features Tay, a chatbot with an artificial intelligence component that asks itself about the meaning of its existence and manifests its sentiments of an intelligence frustrated by its lack of physicality.
For this exhibition, Jon Rafman has created The Ride Never Ends (2018), where through a series of videos and a number of documents created by artificial intelligences, the work tackles the urgent issue of how consciousness influences on-going technological revolutions.
Cheyney Thompson presents several works from the series Stochastic Process Paintings that utilise a software he has created to translate stock market trends into color. Alongside these canvases, the series of drawings Sets of Curves inspired by Rubens’ Bellona, where a vectorial graphic program that analyzes the curves from which the figure is composed has translated the image into a series of never identical replicas.
Luca Trevisani, with his sculptures caldo (Giorgio Manganelli) (2017) and Wireless Fidelity (2018),realized with feathers printed with a UV ray machine, presents a reflection on hybrid materials, an expressive experimentation between natural and artificial.
The exhibition also features What the Sun has Seen (2017), the video by Agnieszka Polska: a protest against the progressive destruction of the earth through human exploitation and pollution that features a 3D screening in which a great sun with a human face, created using face recognition technology, recounts as an objective observer how it sees our planet.
The Lithuanian duo Pakui Hardware is presenting a large installation composed of surreal sculptures from the series On Demand (2017). Exhibited this year at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and at the 13th Baltic Triennale in Vilnius, these works are born out of the interaction between nature and artifice, analysing the way in which human and natural forms are modeled by technology.
Alongside these works the great LED wall by Ian Cheng, Emissary Sunsets the Self (ESTS) (2017), exhibited at MoMA PS1 in New York and the Serpentine Gallery in London, where in a landscape generated by a video game motor, characters and situations, infinitely evolve within atemporal narrations based on outlines randomly repeated by a computer.
The exhibition also includes a piece by New York artist Jamian Juliano-Villani, whose work is characterized by an endless weave of chaotic compositions. The protagonists of her multi-level narrations are frequently characters drawn from comics, animated cartoons, books and magazines.
The exhibition concludes with Do you like Cyber? (2017), an installation recreated for the museum spaces by Emilio Vavarella, an artist and researcher at Harvard University’s department of Visual and Environmental Studies. Composed of three mechanical arms and three parametric speakers, the work explores the hacking in 2016 of a dating site.
In an era in which technologies evolve at an increasingly rapid pace and where we are questioning how far the relationship between man and machine can go, LOW FORM presents the visions of artists showing a present and a future.