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2022 art recap: reimagining the future of arts

Best of 2022: Artists that STIRred the art world by contributing to a technologically advanced future with virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and more.

by Vatsala SethiPublished on : Dec 31, 2022

The category of futuristic art, much like the future itself, is vast.The best of futuristic art, though, is the perfect amalgamation of immersive stories and engaging visuals, works that reimagine the future ranging from groundbreaking scholarly AI to dreamy, personal reflections. As we embrace the coming year, it is also a time to pause, recollect and reflect on the advancements in the field of art and what the future holds.

Among those who made their mark with experimental artistic offerings, was Moscow-based digital artist Maxim Zhestkov, who discussed his complex, algorithmic art that blends imagined architectures with organic motion. German artist Diemut Strebe, who told us about the inspiration and process behind El Turco, an AI-powered experiment in language. Exploring ideas at the intersection of technology and human behaviour, we focused on Cookie Cookie—artist Liu Jiaying's debut show. Jon Rafman’s exhibition of recent works at Berlin's Sprüth Magers gallery was a distorted sideshow funhouse. Additionally, we focused on new media art by Ben Heim, that searches for the present through humanity, nature, and technology and questions the root of NFTs, and more.

For the art world, 2022 was no less than a season of Black Mirror, especially with the crypto boom, the rise of NFTs and the subsequent fade in its hype to several artists making a living through it and making it their medium of choice. Through our year-long extensive coverage of the global art scene—we have curated a selection of stories from each month of the year that probes the idea of the future. Each of the stories reimagines the world in unique ways.

A still from Volumes, Maxim Zhestkov | Reimagining the future of art | STIRworld
A still from Volumes, Maxim Zhestkov Image: Courtesy of Maxim Zhestkov

January: Maxim Zhestkov

Maxim Zhestkov, a digital artist based in Moscow, talked about his intricate, algorithmic artwork that combines imagined constructions in digital space with naturalised motion. Architectural forms are frequently constrained when considered in terms of structural integrity, function, and even finances. However, with artistic licence, architects can build complex, even moving and evolving forms utilising 3D visualisation graphic design tools that involve artificial intelligence, augmented reality and virtual reality. This often blurs the barrier between architecture and art, and we are richer as a result, like in the instance of Zhestkov, who with digital technologies pushes the limits of the forms and structures in visual art.

Companion(expanded), 2022, augmented reality sculpture | Reimagining the future of art | STIRworld
Companion(expanded), 2022, augmented reality sculpture Image: Courtesy of Serpentine Galleries

February: KAWS

In association with Acute Art and Fortnite, the Serpentine Galleries in the United Kingdom debuted an art exhibition on January 18, 2022, that featured large-scale installation art by American artist Brian Donnelly, popularly known as KAWS. The first significant solo exhibition of KAWS's work in London, it was titled NEW FICTION. The show featured pieces that drew inspiration from video games, augmented reality, and actual reality. Daniel Birnbaum, the artistic director of Acute Art, selected the contemporary artist's works and created a computer application that makes it possible to view Donnelly's virtual art. A tool that has sparked the public installation art scene in a pandemic-engulfed planet, the software allows users to access the art exhibition from anywhere in the world.

Past Now Future Now, 2022, Mix Media, Kunel Gaur | Reimagining the future of art | STIRworld
Past Now Future Now, 2022, Mix Media, Kunel Gaur Image: Kunel Gaur; Courtesy of Method Art Space

March: Kunel Gaur

Artist Kunel Gaur produces mixed-media visual art as a statement on important themes including consumerism in retail spaces and the climate crisis. He frequently uses retail package labels, which have innate associations and a sense of nostalgia to make ironic and satirical allusions. "The thoughts expressed in my work come and go constantly as I continue to observe the human condition, our history, spirituality, geopolitics, concepts about the future, religion, collective memory, philosophy, and popular culture,” says Gaur. Trained in designing, he finds inspiration in brutalist architecture, sculptural art, and street art. Contrarily, Gaur only incorporates diverse components into the structure of his art as a means of telling the whole story. In Gaur's practice, materials and items that elicit memories play a key role. The Indian artist has also created NFTs and exhibited works at the Method Art Space.

Installation view, Tatsuo Miyajima | Reimagining the future of art | STIRworld
Installation view, Tatsuo Miyajima Image: Courtesy of Lisson Gallery and Tatsuo Miyajima

April: Tatsuo Miyajima

Three new pieces of work Painting of Change, Keep Changing (Mondrian), and Unstable Time were displayed at Tatsuo Miyajima's most recent immersive exhibition, Art in You, at the Lisson Gallery, for the first time in the UK. Digital light-emitting diode (LED) counters, or ‘gadgets’ as the installation artist loves to refer to them, have been a part of his technological creations since the late 1980s, when he began using electric circuits, video, and computers. The Japanese artist, based in Japan, known to explore Buddhist teachings through technological art installations and light sculpture installations, with these new works includes large single-digit works activated by the roll of a dice, executed for the first time; new LED gadgets mounted on fabric; and LED installations on panels, whereby the cycle of life is suggested through an evolving display of digits, states the press release.

Machine Hallucination at Artechouse, NY, 2019, Refik Anadol| Reimagining the future of art | STIRworld
Machine Hallucination at Artechouse, NY, 2019, Refik Anadol Image: Refik Anadol

May: Refik Anadol

Refik Anadol is a new media artist who was born in 1985, was raised in Istanbul, Turkey and currently resides in Los Angeles. Site-specific parametric data sculptures and audio-visual performances are products of Anadol's art installation practice. Prior to earning his master's degrees in visual communications from Istanbul Bilgi University and fine arts from UCLA, he studied photography and video. His work is renowned for integrating media arts with concrete architecture and challenging the use of space in the post-digital era, focusing on climate change. By reinventing architecture and interiors, the Turkish artist enables spectators to imagine alternate futures by creating public art that incorporates artificial intelligence, machine learning, VR in digital space, inspired by science fiction.

Untitled, Liu Jiaying | Reimagining the future of art | STIRworld
Untitled, Liu Jiaying Image: Courtesy of Crypto ZR

June: Liu Jiaying

Conceptual artist Liu Jiaying, known as CryptoZR, had the first ever blockchain and crypto art themed solo exhibition. Li Zhenhua, an independent curator, organised Cookie Cookie, which was on display at the Guardian Art Center in Beijing. The exhibition displayed how the artist skillfully integrates, adjusts, and reassesses technology with art history, while constructing an interactive financial system and digital currency utilising smart contract techniques. Images from one key immersive project called Out of Nothing showed her very first attempts at using Ethereum blockchain technology.

Metapanorama, 2022. Installation view, 2022, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Martial Galfione and Mike Gaughan| Reimagining the future of art | STIRworld
Metapanorama, 2022. Installation view, 2022, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Martial Galfione and Mike Gaughan Image: Hugo Glendinning; Courtesy of Serpentine Galleries

July: Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster

At the Serpentine South Gallery in London, French artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster presented her immersive installation Alienarium 5, which was organised by Claude Adjil. The exhibition examined the idea of falling in love with aliens, and was held in the Serpentine South Gallery's central rotunda. The interdisciplinary artist’s works, featured in Alienarium 5, include immersive installations, video art, and a lot of sound and music. The showcase was a synthesis of inspirations, sprinkled with references to literary, architectural, and musical influences.

1:44 Inter-dimensional Space Time Portal - 3D Virtual View, 2021, Computer Rendering, Harlan Emil Gruber | Reimagining the future of art | STIRworld
1:44 Inter-dimensional Space Time Portal - 3D Virtual View, 2021, Computer Rendering, 1:44 Inter-dimensional Space Time Portal - 3D Virtual View, 2021, Computer Rendering, Harlan Emil Gruber Image: Harlan Emil Gruber

August: Harlan Emil Gruber and Maraya

The interactive art piece 1:44 Inter-dimensional Space Time Portal, created by US-based Harlan Emil Gruber and South African intuitive healer Maraya as part of Burning Man, was awarded an honorarium grant. Through his sculptural art and design work, Emil Gruber frequently merges his passion for science and art. Maraya is a delegate of the Galactic Council and Federation of Galaxies. After a two-year hiatus caused by the global pandemic, the Burning Man festival was back in Black Rock City, a participatory temporary metropolis in the Nevada desert. The art festival generated by an ecosystem of artists, makers, and community organisers who collaborate to co-create art, events, and local projects all over the world, was founded to encourage anti-consumerism and self-expression.

El Turco: Installation view at Aichi Triennale 2022| Reimagining the future of art | STIRworld
El Turco: Installation view at Aichi Triennale 2022 Image: Courtesy of Diemut Strebe and Aichi Triennale

September: Diemut Strebe

At the Aichi Triennale 2022, which took place in a number of locations all around the Japanese prefecture of Aichi, German artist Diemut Strebe made his premiere presentation of El Turco. A massive triptych video work comprising two talking digitally produced figures. One of the characters was directed by an unnoticed person, while the other was controlled by GPT-3, an open-source AI system for language processing. Strebe is a Germany based artist whose work sits at the nexus of art and science. He develops ideas for his works that are both intellectual and imaginative. Similar to other art installations, this one proposes a thorough investigation into the definition of intelligence—both its perception and its reality.

Installation view of Counterfeit Poast at Sprüth Magers gallery, 2022, Jon Rafman | Reimagining the future of art | STIRworld
Installation view of Counterfeit Poast at Sprüth Magers gallery, 2022, Jon Rafman Image: Timo Ohler; Courtesy of Jon Rafman and Sprüth Magers

October: Jon Rafman

The experience of entering Canadian artist Jon Rafman's exhibition at Berlin's Sprüth Magers art gallery was like stepping into a distorted sideshow funhouse after ingesting psychoactive substances. The exhibition, titled Counterfeit Poast, focused on two immersive experiences: a video installation in a separate room that had been darkened, and an adjacent octagonal chamber with five large-scale paintings placed against a vinyl wallpaper, humming with visual information. Uncertain distorted figures addressed the spectators directly in confessional-style narratives on the video screen, while facing them from the chapel-like digital media installation walls.

Consciousness Stuff 31.0, 2021, image still, Ben Heim | Reimagining the future of art | STIRworld
Consciousness Stuff 31.0, 2021, image still, Ben Heim Image: Ben Heim; Courtesy of Ben Heim

November: Ben Heim

Ben Heim is an audiovisual artist who develops intricate generative systems that are both aesthetically pleasing and closely integrated with musical and real-time human interaction capabilities. Although he currently resides and works in New York City, he was born in Sydney, Australia. Though the majority of his works are audio-visual, it's interesting to note that the self-taught visual artist only received formal musical instruction at the Royal College of Music in London and subsequently at New York University, where he focused on screen scoring. The Australian artist told STIR, “Many different artists have inspired my journey. I am constantly inspired by the all-time greats like Picasso and Da Vinci. The way these artists rose to such a level of perfection in their craft is staggering. Stylistically, my work is often inspired by abstract expressionists such as Cy Twombly, or Contemporary Abstract masters like Gerhard Richter. In the realm of new media art, my greatest influences are Davide Quayola, and”

Assembly Lines: Expanse [extending], film, directed by Sougwen Chung. Director of Photography, Peter Butterwoth| Reimagining the future of art | STIRworld
Assembly Lines: Expanse [extending], film, directed by Sougwen Chung. Director of Photography, Peter Butterwoth Image: © Sougwen Chung; Courtesy of Studio Scilicet

December: Espoo Museum of Modern Art

Arja Miller, chief art curator of the Espoo Museum of Modern Art, the largest art museum in Finland, which has been around for more than two decades, spoke with STIR about selecting works for the exhibition examining the interconnectedness of nature, art, and technology. Each of the featured visual artists at the exhibition had a pre-existing enquiry which explored one of these three themes in depth, creating an enriching and informative juxtaposition when placed together. Among many other artists, Refik Anadol, Dora Budor, Sougwen Chung, Stephanie Dinkins, Teemu Lehmusruusu, and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's works were included in the exhibition In Search of the Present. The exhibition titlereferred to an eponymous collection of essays (1929) by 20th century Finnish author Olavi Paavolainen that examines the experiences and identities of modern people in a rapidly changing era. The art exhibition also included two newly commissioned artworks by Sougwen Chung and Raimo Saarinen.

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