Media News

It's art, for the Facebook generation

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - If like many people in our technology-ruled world you can’t live without Google, video games, digital media and social networking sites like Facebook, this is your kind of art exhibit.

The art installation "DIY GORI: seed_1216944000" by South Korean artist Jee Hyun Oh, being displayed at the "International Symposium on Electronic Art 2008" in Singapore, is seen in this undated handout. REUTERS/International Symposium on Electronic Art 2008/Handout

For just over a week from Friday, the “International Symposium on Electronic Art 2008”, a leading global media arts event, will showcase 16 artworks that transform the technology we all use on a daily basis into exhibits created to get you thinking about the state of the world we live in.

“Technology does not work in a cultural vacuum,” ISEA2008 artistic director Gunalan Nadarajan told Reuters. “Culture very often is the basis of technological development but that is a relationship that is not sufficiently marked.”

The exhibits, on display at the National Museum of Singapore, were selected by an international jury from an open call for submissions in 2007.

Media artists were required to submit proposals for works they wished to develop and that took their inspiration from ISEA08’s five themes: whether technology renders our physical location unimportant; how technology affects our perception of reality; crowd sourcing or the “wiki” phenomenon; “fun” science and whether technology has made our world borderless.

The chosen artists then spent several months in Singapore, working with local technology labs, in an experiment the curators hoped would push the boundaries of both art and science.

As expected, most of the exhibits are interactive.

“Civilization V” by Serbia’s Eastwood-Real Time Strategy Group is a modification of empire-building video game series “Civilization”, which highlights the battle for dominance between user-driven websites, and where instead of pillaging, visitors use tactics like “emotional blackmail” and “love bombing”.

Macau artist Lai Mei Kei’s “Does it make scents to have fun?” is another interactive game, in which users deploy their sense of smell rather than the usual sight, sound and agility.

Sound forms the basis of “Run Silent, Run Deep” by Australian artists Nigel Helyer and Daniel Woo, who made an audio portrait of Singapore which visitors can navigate much like online maps.

Kelly Jaclynn Andres explores the concept of walking in someone else’s shoes in “Finally, We Hear One Another”, where visitors are equipped with wearable speakers and microphones that use wireless technology to transmit the sound of one person to the earphones of another.

Environmental concerns are also highlighted in “Sourcing Water” and “The Water Book (An Encyclopedia of Water)” as well as Singapore-based Syntfarm’s “Syntboutique” which presents natural objects necessary to self-sustaining Mongolian nomads as consumer goods, displayed in boutique showcases.

“DIY GORI:see_1216944000” by Korean Jee Hyun Oh is one of the exhibit’s larger works and consists of a corrugated cardboard scroll carrying every revision to a Wiki site published, while “Exodus” by design collective Metahaven questions the supposed neutrality of Internet search engines.

“We believe this exhibit is especially relevant in today’s ‘Facebook’ world, where we don’t question technology because it has become so integrated into our lives,” Nadarajan said.

“Art helps to questions the functional paradigm about how we use materials, which is in turn radically important to the development of technology.”

ISEA2008 Juried Exhibition

25 July to 3 August

National Museum of Singapore

Free admission

Editing by Jerry Norton