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Featured on Jakarta Post, Oct 18, 2012

Alternative realities through new media art

Carla Bianpoen, Contributor, Singapore | Art and Design | Thu, October 18 2012, 7:44 AMAs the technical revolution continues with ever evolving digital innovation, it seems that video art and digital art, which have been gradually being accepted as valid mediums of artistic expression, are just the tip of the iceberg.This is being made clear at the exhibition of new media art from the past 13 years by nine international artists at Ikkan Gallery Singapore, showcased under the title “The Experience Machine” until Oct. 27.When visiting the show at Ikkan Gallery, Tanjong Pagar recently, I was amazed and overwhelmed by the surreal landscape that I was allowed to co-create in, in what I found was the most inventive and fascinating work made by the Tokyo-based teamLab with chief executive officer Inoko Toshiyuki (b. 1977) . “What a Loving and beautiful world” was invented by teamLab, whose hundreds of interdisciplinary members from various countries have cooperated with Sisyu, a calligrapher who explored the power of emotional and visual evocation of Japanese ideograms, with accompanying music from Hideaki Takahashi.While interactive work has been around for some time, this installation work differs in that it literally transports the viewer into a self-created natural world, rendering the feeling of being a creator of sorts.
In a space specially constructed for the purpose, everything is initially black, as was the Earth before its creation, until kanji signs randomly fall from the four walls through the touch or shadow of our hands. At the touch of the sign for the flower, the entire space is filled with flowers. If the sign of bird comes down together with that for a tree and is touched simultaneously, the signs will erupt with a flight of birds that automatically occupy the branches of the emerging trees. When touching the character for wind, all things on the screen will be swept away including the character, and when one happens to touch the character for the butterfly and flower at the same time, the butterfly automatically seeks the flower. The characters are programmed with an intelligence of their own, says gallery owner Ikkan Sanada, who moved from New York to Singapore less than a year ago.As I stood in the dark space before the falling kanji signs in a dramatic night landscape illuminated by the moon, it was as if I was experiencing the very story of creation as told in the Book of Genesis. The difference of course was that the images evoked by the touch or shadow of the human hand were ephemeral, disappearing immediately as we touched another sign, perhaps hinting at the transient nature, the impermanence of things. In the same sense, requiring a human hand to evoke the images could also be understood as the role humans must play in the preservation of the natural environment.The work was awarded the Architecture, Art & Culture Award at the international contest ReVolution during Laval Virtual, Europe’s largest virtual reality salon in spring 2012.Another piece of work by teamLab in the show visualized their suggestion that Asian art appreciation differs from that of Western art. In “Flower and Corpse Glitch” animation, turning a 2D Japanese painting into a computer generated 3D virtual space, teamLab suggests that ancient Japanese visualized a picture from inside, blurring the subjective and the objective, without a focal point, whereas paint in the West considers the rules of perspective, geometry and objectification.
Similarly, the absence of a focal point is also seen in the photographic view of The Last Judgment in Cyberspace by the Chinese artist Miau Xiaochun, where the artist in fact enters the famous painting by Michelangelo, re-inventing it by transforming the 2-D into computer-generated digital scenes with depth and volume while eliminating the focal point and allowing the viewer to see the scene from various angles. He once said that it was his way of proposing equality. The repeated use of the same model “automatically abandons the distinctions between high and low, left and right, good and evil, honorable and humble, east and west, ancient and modern.”Other works in the show include Enclose by Philippine artist Bea Camacho, Home Movie by Jim Campbell, ASCII History of Moving Images by the Ljubljana, based artist VukCosic, Dust Storm by John Gerrard from Ireland, Vermeer study: Looking Back (mirror) by the Japanese artist Morimura Yasumasa, Something is boiling by Ben Rubin from the US and Endless victory by John F. Simon Jr, US.

Featured on artitute, Sep 21, 2012

Ushering in the Electronic Age: Ikkan Art Gallery’s “The Experience Machine”

Transition has been on my mind of late. Maybe that’s why I gravitated towards the insight noted in The Experience Machine’s catalogue essay on the industrial age making way for the “electronic era”, allowing for renewed “ways of seeing and experiencing our world”.How then does our current electronic era influence art? More than ever, artists are using technological advances to alter and challenge their practices and processes, giving rise to ‘New Media Art’, which comprises “constantly evolving hybrid technological art forms such as video art, digital art, interactive installation and customized software art”. The semantics of art then comes into question. Can the programmed digital software John F. Simon Jr. used to create what I heard some visitors call a “Microsoft screensaver” be called art? Ambivalence about popular acceptance of such unfamiliar art forms has clearly not deterred co-curator and owner of Ikkan Art International, Ikkan Sanada, from presenting a plethora of unconventional, tech-savvy and wonderfully bizarre works that the local art scene has probably not yet witnessed. After all, what is transition without the slight discomfiture and strange newness of change?With change comes a reconfiguration of habits and customs. Technology allows and promotes the manipulation and reconstruction of our visual, social and perceptive norms, engendering new sights and experiences that challenge the beliefs we have become used to. Iconoclastic and irreverent, Morimura Yasumasa’s contemporary takes on the historically famed Vermeer painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring, challenge art-historical and social ideas regarding the male gaze. By reconstructing his Japanese, male identity into that of a Western, female figure, Morimura subverts the conventional notions associated with the invasive, voyeuristic male gaze, confounding the viewer and prompting him to look beyond the superficiality of representation. He employs more physical reconstruction and metamorphosis than technological (although his use of video alone in the appropriation of Vermeer inserts a wholly new artistic dimension and comparison): notorious for being contemporary art’s “most famous drag queen”, Morimura paints his face and painstakingly transforms his sartorial, facial and overall physical appearance to that of his subjects. From artist to subject (and object), male to female, Asian to Western, hidden to exposed, Morimura boldly appropriates a revered historical piece, only to playfully, completely turn it on its head.One of the things I love about contemporary art is its ability to engage audiences in participation and dialogue. Performance alone does not suffice, as the distance between artist and audience is sorely emphasized. By engaging the senses and encouraging activity, art ceases to be a hierarchical distinction and moves into a new realm of participation, reflection and agency.The magnum opus of The Experience Machine is SISYU+teamLab’s installation that presents a visually captivating spectacle, allows visitors to participate and act, and uses technology to reflect, not manipulate or violate, a natural milieu. Upon walking into a specially constructed black room, I was surrounded by screens depicting a surreal, otherworldly 3D landscape of nebula and falling kanji (Chinese characters). Intrigued, Mr. Sanada then prompted me to ‘touch’ a falling character. My action caused the kanji signifying ‘bird’ to transmogrify into an animated version of a bird. Mr. Sanada then proceeded to enliven ‘tree’, which the bird then flew to. This is just one of many instances of the everyday, arbitrary interactions between nature, the elements and animals that the installation mirrors with surprising accuracy. While we might often think of technology as automated, soulless and clinical, What a Loving, and Beautiful World demonstrates how SISYU+teamLab has invigorated their animation with the unpredictability and simple beauty of nature.While some might get lost in SISYU+teamLab’s technological playground, my favourite work from the show was unenviably positioned in a quiet corner in the neighbouring room. Walk into the room flashing with Jim Campbell and Ben Rubin’s light installations, and you might just leave without noticing Bea Camacho’s video, located on the floor in a corner next to the door. Interestingly, the artist herself made the curatorial decision to place her video screen in a negligible place.Enclose isn’t meant to scream out at you. On the contrary, as the title suggests, it wants to be hidden, isolated. Besides forcing the viewer to bend, squint and make a physical effort to watch her video, Camacho has refused to make Enclose a performance piece, isolating herself from the glare and scrutiny of a surveying audience and their emotional and auditory responses. By choosing not to sensationalize her emotions, Camacho makes a bold statement about artistic and personal integrity. Enclose is thus poignant because it is an act of catharsis, not a lurid, effusive spectacle.Having never been physically or emotionally close to her family, Camacho channels the rejection and loneliness she experienced (or is experiencing) by literally ensconcing herself in a crocheted cocoon. While crochet might evoke memories of familial warmth and affection, for Camacho, it refers to “an idealized version of home”. Challenging the futility of fulfilling a romanticized fantasy, Camacho pushes herself to physical extremes by crocheting non-stop for 11 hours, going without rest, food or water. The artist as sufferer, a familiar concept popularized by Marina Abramovic, is here given new life by Camacho, who allows us to witness and experience her pain vicariously through her creative process. As The Experience Machine shows, this shiny new electronic age has more heart than we might think.

Featured on The Straits Times, Sep 28, 2012

AN HOUR @ THE MUSEUM

Japanese gallerist Ikkan Sanada showcases New Media Art by nine international artists in the exhibition titled The Experience Machine.Co curated by Andrew Herdon,director of Herdon Contemporary,a company that works with international emerging and mid-career artists to present new art to new audiences,this exhibition explores,this exhibition explores theories related to the historical differences between Western and Asian ways of seeing,understanding and experiencing the world.Flower and Corpse Glitch

By teamLab, animationJapanese group teamLab’s computer-generated 3-D virtual story animation captures the essence of traditional Japanese painting and a fairy tale.Exploring themes of nature,the clash of civilizations,cycles and symbiosis,the surface of the animation flakes away and reveals the underlying structure-the complex technology that forms the background to the work.The traditional Asian way of appreciating a painting is ‘duhua’(to read a painting) in China,or the concept of ‘narikiri’ (entering a picture,or visualizing a picture form inside it) in Japan.Without a specific focal point,the observer’s mind is allowed to drift into another world.What a Loving, and Beautiful World

By Sisyu+teamLab, interactive animation installationThis interactive animation installation,the product of a collaboration between the famous Japanese calligrapher Sisyu and teamLab,creates an immersive ‘environment’ combining projections with motion sensors in a darkened room.Kanji(Chinese characters) paper on the walls and fall slowly.When someone’s shadow touches the characters for words such as ‘moon’ and ‘butterfly’,they change their shape.This dynamic interaction shows the endlessly renewed beauty of the changes in the world caused by humans interaction with it.

Featured on SHIFT, Sep, 2012

TEAMLAB EXHIBITION "WE ARE THE FUTURE"


Held at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts in Taichung, the second biggest city in Taiwan, ‘We are the Future’ is a general exhibit that lets artwork by the teamLab ‘Ultra Technology Strike Group’ and commercial works live together.There were more than twenty works on display at the exhibit including ‘Flower and Corpse Glitch,' an animation scroll which consisted of twelve films. Included are ‘One Hundred Years Sea – Running time: 100 years’ whose scale seems to span one hundred years; ‘teamLab Hanger,’ an interactive experience displaying different images when a hanger is picked up off of a clothing rack; and ‘Sword Dance and Shadowgraph,' a projection mapping video that was made to complement Taichi Saotome’s performance.
‘Peace can be Realized Even without Order Diorama Ver.,' the latest work specifically made for this exhibit, stood out conspicuously inside of the dim exhibit area, even alongside many other video works. Hundreds of smartphones were displayed in a dark, each with a tiny figure singing or playing an instrument, as if part of a Japanese festival, all while communicating with each other. These small people do not establish communication across the whole group, instead interacting with those nearby, resulting in a massive group interaction.
‘Peace can be Realized Even without Order Diorama Ver.', teamLab, 2012. Interactive Animation Installation, Smartphones, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi, Voice: Yutaka Fukuoka, With the Cooperation of HTC
teamLab’s work used to be one large print from a video, but it is an aggregate of small displays this time.For example, the scenery is large in ‘Flower and Corpse Glitch,’ which displayed at the Louvre, but pictured within are the stories of many small characters. I have realized that it is more effective to have many small displays with one character on each than it is to have one big display and put many characters on it in order to develop a story. The space becomes more abstract by placing innumerable characters in the dark, and the each smartphone pops out as if they were a sculpture of a picture. The idea of being able to create an imaginary world with only characters is like feeling you might have had as a kid trying to create your own world by setting up ‘Kinnikuman Erasers’ in your room.
'Flower and Corpse Glitch Set of 12'. teamLab, 2012, Animation, 1min 50sec (9:16 × 12)
The characters in this piece react to the audience and perform on their instruments especially well in response to each other’s actions.There are some messages in this work, but a theme of ‘beauty of unbalanced things that are not restrained’ is one of them. The old Japanese knew the beauty of incomplete things, such as the stone garden of Ryoan-ji and the shape of the stone at Zen-ji. They pick up a lump of the distorted energy in nature. The same idea applies to bonsai since they become a microcosm filled with life in a small container. Asian design seems to unleash energy while European design is made up of many restraints.Taichi Saotome and teamLab, Special New Year Performance of Dragon and Peony, Sword Dance and Shadowgraph. teamLab, 2011, Animation, 2min 32sec, Produce: UBON, Cooperation: S.J.K.

What kind of design are you particularly talking about?For example, if it’s a Western garden, it would be made symmetrically, or restrained in a way like cutting trees. The Japanese garden lets people pick up and place things anywhere, including any little cluster of natural energy that people might feel. Of course, it still continues these days. Western fashion magazines have such simple layouts while Japanese fashion magazines like ‘Koakuma AGEHA.’ are essentially doing the opposite, using confusing layouts which overflow with Asian-like energy. Western countries developed a culture that believes ‘being balanced is comfortable’ and Japan developed the idea of ‘the beauty in unbalanced things.’
Is this same energy shown in the arrangement of the smartphones in the dark?Each individual, overflowing with energy, was placed without restrictions and this might be able to create one view of the world. These small people on the smartphones created a life and became free. It's like the liberated people at festivals exist in innumerable smartphones. They will communicate with each other and could be in a festival-like mood if they do well.Can you tell me the process how you created this work in detail?This exhibit is a retrospective show, but I wanted to include a new work as well. So I looked into HTC, a Taiwanese mobile maker. I contacted them about four weeks prior to the exhibit, and two days later I was told that they were able to get hold of the necessary amount of smartphones that I would need. Since this was a very sudden project, an engineer from HTC flew all the way to Haneda from Taipei to bring six terminals. An engineer from teamLab also went to Haneda and discussed technical issues with him there on the spot.
It sounds like a pretty dynamic creation process.They also love both technology and art, so they were cool with helping us. The music was done by Hideaki Takahashi who teamLab has worked with often. The base of the music is the footsteps of the small people, since each smartphone plays music and that creates the harmony. Each smartphones starts stepping along with the footsteps of others nearby and this is the base of the music. The small people have flutes, small and large drums, and biwas. They also sing, and the voices were done by Yutaka Fukuoka, who sings the opening theme song for the TV program ‘News Station.’ Takahashi completely understood our concept for this work, and we even laughed when we heard his rough draft music the first time since it was already perfect. Minoru Terao, visual director at teamLab, directed the animation. The animation team, which includes Atsushi Ito, made the dance moves with CG based on Awa folk dances. Tetsuro Kato from the computer vision team set up the movement recognition for actual people, then Sakashita, an engineer at teamLab set up the small people' movement to be interactive based on that information. There were so many problems when they actually installed the smartphones at the exhibit area, including overheating, the smartphones couldn't handle continuous operation over long periods of time, and there were problems with the power supplies, so the work wasn't in perfect working order when the exhibit opened. Therefore, Sakashita was still in Taiwan (as of July 3rd) troubleshooting the problems. Things to be running more smoothly since the beginning of July.‘Peace can be Realized Even without Order Diorama Ver.'
Why did you choose smartphones?If you think of a camera as eyes, a microphone as ears, a speaker as a mouth, and a display as a face, smartphones are like people who can express themselves. While we were working on this project, we noticed why Google’s smartphone is called the ‘Android.’ They are a man-made intelligence known as an android, the closest creatures to human beings. They are wireless and can communicate almost like human beings do and perceive the outside world. They can express themselves with a display and a speaker. They network with each other in a very human way.
It’s not just one PC controlling all of the smartphones in this project, but it’s a situation where each one seriously communicates each other, isn't it?Due to the limited number of connections possible with Wi-Fi, they can only communicate with those nearby. Therefore, the information transmits like ripples from phone to phones. The Internet is the same thing since they go through servers or routers that are nearby. The Internet society seems more like the Asian style than the Western style since there is almost no rule in the structure of the Internet. There is no center. The rules are minimal, but society is maintained society. This project could resemble that idea.
There is also what’s called self-imposed restraint, right?That could be the state of the internet when you impose half-baked Western concepts. The Western concept sees ‘peace’ as the rule of law, the expulsion of strange things, and the use of power to maintain control. In this respect, I think that the old Asia was different. For example, when I go do the Awa Folk dance in my hometown, Tokushima, I don’t see any orders there, and even the music gets made up of rhythms which someone started and others hopped on. This is how the festival is made.
Is it a close to the idea of free Jazz?I don’t know much about Jazz but I feel like this is more selfish than Jazz. It seems like people play sounds that go well with others when they play Jazz. However, people don't care about others when they dance Awa folk. Since everyone is getting excited, I should be able to get excited as well. The idea is abstract and selfish like this.
Are there rules like a core melody or BPM in Awa Folk dance?There is a brief pattern of rhythm but absolutely no melody, so everyone will be surprised when they actually experience the festival. Everyone communicates in their way and creates the atmosphere of “I should be excited since everyone is.”
So this work reflects the experience of the Awa Folk dance?I got drunk and babbled in the middle of the Awa Folk dance, “Look, peace can be realized even without order. Western society is making a mistake,” but it made an impression on the people who were with me. I even forgot about what I had said at the time, but anyway, the Awa Folk dance is a completely disorderly situation and a peaceful space. It’s very rare that fighting happens during the Awa Folk dance. Everyone gets drunk and dances wildly. “Although there are no rules, peace is still there.” When I realized that that was the case, it became the base of this work. I realized it later, but teamLab is also a pretty ideal example of being able to create a distributed network in an organization.
What type of distributed network has been used at teamLab?In the case of this private exhibit in Taiwan, this was completed without any single person understanding the entire situation. After the exhibit was confirmed, it took us only two months to finish displaying about twenty pieces. Thanks to mobile phones and the internet, unbelievable progress was made possible. For example, each time various different people would come out to the window at the museum. Since no one was in charge of this exhibit full time, the museum staff was pretty confused. But they eventually got used to the distributed network of the teamLab (laugh).
That sounds like a good story.Usually, if we want to do animation work, we set up a couple of PCs before the screen and project the image or run the program. But, smartphones are the ultimate standalone objects that can communicate and show expression. Instead of having a computer in the middle, this work has smartphones communicate individually. Since the communication is exchanged between independent smartphones, there are moments that everyone is in an excited mood or in silence. I understood that smartphones can create a society like humans due to the sensitivity of sensing and communication between phones. This work hints at the idea of a new network society through the Awa Folk dance. I will always believe that there are hints for the future from the old days and non-20th century Western societies.Text: Kurando Furuya
Translation: Yumico Miyagawa

Featured on Roppongi Future Talks, Sep 19, 2012

How would you turn Roppongi into an area of Design & Art?

Toshiyuki Inoko did not show up at the appointed time on the day of the interview. We asked him what had happened when he finally arrived, and he told us he had been looking everywhere for the interview room. He added that he always gets lost in Roppongi buildings. Inoko is the standard-bearer of next generation digital art. In 2001, while a student at the University of Tokyo, Inoko set up teamLab Inc., a group of ultra-technologists, with the aim to rejuvenate Japan. He is continuing to take up the challenge of creating new expressions in the digital domain. Inoko is constantly giving thought to the values of Japanese culture and the things that have impact on the post-Internet society. We asked him his views on the future of Roppongi.

Featured on Artinfo, Sep 19, 2012

The Experience Machine

A view of the installation “What a Loving, and Beautiful World” by Japanese calligrapher Sisyu and teamLab
by Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop, ARTINFO
Published: September 19, 2012
Rather than being the sole creators of a work of art, new media artists often offer audiences the opportunity to interact with and contribute to their artworks.
"What a Loving, and Beautiful World" by Japanese calligrapher Sisyu and teamLab is such a piece where slowly falling kanji (the Chinese characters used in Japan) for words like ‘rain,’ ‘flower’ and ‘butterfly’ transform when touched by a viewer’s shadow to become the image of the word they represent while a corresponding sound is heard. This interactive animation installation, which combines projections with motion sensors in a darkened room, is a completely immersive experience, set — as the title suggests — in a beautiful world where rainbows appear after rain showers and butterflies snuggle up to flowers. It is also a very ephemeral experience which constantly changes. As in the natural world there are no identical moments thanks to 22 kanji falling randomly and interacting differently depending on how they meet (for example the butterflies flying toward flowers will change their course if a fire suddenly appears in front of them).
The work is part of “The Experience Machine,” an exhibition dedicated to New Media at Ikkan Art Gallery, which include a selection of works by nine international artists: Bea Camacho, John Gerrard, John F. Simon Jr., Jim Campbell, Morimura Yasumasa, Sisyu+teamLab, Vuk Ćosić, Ben Rubin and Miao Xiaochun.
The exhibition seeks to explore the historical differences between Western and Asian art practices of portraying the world — i.e. the use of perspective and geometry in composition vs. the flat, perspective-free approach of traditional Chinese and Japanese paintings — as well as to explore how new media artists use technology to create new interpretations of space. Of particular note is Jim Campbell’s “Home Movie” (2006) installation, which uses widely spaced strings of individual LED lights hanging like a curtain to project back onto the wall found footage of old home movies. The LEDs are facing the wall, creating an image on its surface, but also partially blocking that low resolution image. The overall effect is ethereal.
“The Experience Machine” runs till October 27 at Ikkan Art Gallery

Featured on LuxArtAsia, Sep 19, 2012

The Experience Machine @ Ikkan Art Gallery

POSTED BY SONIA KOLESNIKOV-JESSOP ON 19 – SEP
Rather than being the sole creators of a work of art, new media artists often offer audiences the opportunity to interact with and contribute to their artworks. “What a Loving, and Beautiful World” by Japanese calligrapher Sisyu and teamLab is such a piece where slowly falling kanji (the Chinese characters used in Japan) for words like ‘rain,’ ‘flower’ and ‘butterfly’ transform when touched by a viewer’s shadow to become the image of the word they represent while a corresponding sound is heard.This interactive animation installation, which combines projections with motion sensors in a darkened room, is a completely immersive experience, set — as the title suggests — in a beautiful world where rainbows appear after rain showers and butterflies snuggle up to flowers. It is also a very ephemeral experience which constantly changes. As in the natural world there are no identical moments thanks to 22 kanji falling randomly and interacting differently depending on how they meet (for example the butterflies flying toward flowers will change their course if a fire suddenly appears in front of them).
The work is part of “The Experience Machine,” an exhibition dedicated to New Media at Ikkan Art Gallery, which include a selection of works by nine international artists: Bea Camacho, John Gerrard, John F. Simon Jr., Jim Campbell, Morimura Yasumasa, SISYU+teamLab, Vuk Ćosić, Ben Rubin and Miao Xiaochun.

Featured on The Business Times, Sep 7, 2012

The future of art

Businesses must “look like art” if they want to succeed beyond their wildest dreams. So believes Toshiyuki Inoko, the crystal ball-gazing co-founder of Japan’s most famous digital solutions company, teamLab.

Regarded as a minor visionary among computer geeks, he says that companies must learn to be more “intuitive and artistic” in their approach towards doing business because the sophisticated customers of tomorrow expect an “elegant, artistic” experience when they purchase the company’s product or service.

To illustrate his point, Inoko pits Bill Gates against Steve Jobs: “In the 1980s, Bill Gates created Microsoft. Their products were cheap, good and efficient for their time. But most people didn’t really like Microsoft. They didn’t feel much love for the products.

Along came Steve Jobs, a computer whiz and art lover who passionately studied calligraphy in university, was a great champion of digital arts, and used his mastery of typography and design to help create some of the most iconic machines of our time – the Apple computer, the iPod, the iPad and the iPhone.

“Jobs understood the importance of harmony between design and function. And buyers of Apple products remain fans for a long time,” says Inoko.

“In future, the most logical and cost-effective business solutions may no longer be the best. And the Bill Gates of the world may slowly become obsolete.”

Speaking through a translator, Inoko is in Singapore for an exhibition of futuristic artworks at Ikkan Art Gallery at Helutrans.

Titled The Experience Machine, the exhibition showcases more than a dozen slick and cutting- edge digital artworks such as video art and animation installation.

Inoko’s digital company teamLab created two of the artworks on display: One is a stunning interactive animation room where kanji characters float on the walls.

When you touch the various characters, such as wind or butterfly, they explode into beautiful visual representations, allowing you to create your own dreamscape through the combination of various words. Titled What A Loving and Beautiful World, the work is priced at $79,500.

Inoko’s teamLab creates digital solutions for various companies – from cool video walls for fashion houses to a slick search-functionality for a popular ticketing website.

The works by the other artists at the exhibition are equally compelling. Ben Rubin’s witty Something Is Boiling (priced at $37,500) displays a blurry electronic Campbell soup tin revolving on strips of LED lights, a playful homage to Andy Warhol’s iconic Campbell’s Soup Cans.

John Gerard’s fascinating landscape “portrait” Dust Storm (priced at $100,000) is a computer-animated image constructed from thousands of still photographs. Using Realtime 3D, the portrait changes from morning to night as a landscape would in real-life, and allows the viewer to get a 360 degree-view of the vista by rotating the monitor.

Many of the works offer a glimpse into the future of art, entertainment and advertising.

The Experience Machine exhibition is on from Sept 13 to Oct 27 at the Ikkan Art Gallery at #01-05, Artspace @Helutrans, Tanjong Pagar Distripark, 39 Keppel Road (directly opposite the road from the old Tanjong Pagar Railway Station).

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Featured on Plush, Sep 12, 2012

The brave new world of digital art

Art meets digital in an avant garde art exhibition that opens on Thursday, Sept 13, for a month.

The collection of 15 original artworks by nine world renowned avant-garde artists is being displayed at the 9,500 sq ft Ikkan Art Gallery at Tanjong Pagar Distripark, which is located opposite the old Malayan Railway station.

One of the eye-catching artworks at the exhibition, titled “The Experience Machine”, is the photo-realistic “The Last Judgment in Cyberspace” by Chinese artist, Miao Xiaochun.

The painting, which reaches almost to the ceiling, shows a crowd of mannequins posing amidst a sepia sea of clouds.

“Doesn’t this look familiar to you?” asked gallery owner Ikkan Sanada, pointing to the title of the huge artwork.

As its name suggests, the composition and motifs are reproduced from Michelangelo’s universally recognised painting, “The Last Judgment” – except that Miao has added digital elements to it.

He scanned his body in 3D and replaced all the human motifs with these images. As a result, the original one-dimensional painting was transformed into a 3D one with the resultant illusion of the bodies being constantly in motion.

On top of this, Miao changed the point of view of the drawing, making it appear as if he could spin the world around like in a computer game.

Commented gallery owner Sanada: “He added new and different perspectives into the art, which makes the audience feel like they are one of the mannequins in the artwork.”

It has been almost a year that the 61-year-old Sanada moved his art gallery from New York to Singapore, assured of the rising demand for art in Asia. Since then, the gallery has successfully held four exhibitions showcasing the works of world class contemporary artist, such as Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei, and international photographers.

He said that his latest exhibition is his most experimental.

“Personally, I do not want to copy what other galleries do,” he commented. “I would like to introduce the cutting edge of art which looks to the future.” Other works on display are digital installation art by the Japanese creative company teamLab and self-portraits by Yasumasa Morimura. Some of the works are exclusive to “The Experience Machine” exhibition.

TeamLab consists of various skilled “ultra technologists”, who have been active in Tokyo since 2001. It is an unprecedented art group that includes traditional Japanese painters, digital programmers, architects and more. To join the team, one needs to be a geek. The team is now 300 strong, undertaking more than 30 projects simultaneously.

The interactive animation installation, “What a Loving, and Beautiful World”, is the centerpiece of the exhibition. It is a “must-experience” artwork that’s a fusion of beauty and state-of-the-art technology.

The collaboration between teamLab and famous Japanese female calligrapher Sisyu has won the Architecture, Art & Culture Award in 2012 at the international virtual reality “Laval Virtual” contest.

Said Toshiyuki Inoko, 35, CEO of teamLab: “You and other people and the things around you are influencing each other. The work. ‘What a Loving’, enables you to feel this natural and precious relationship between yourself and others”.

A ceiling projector irradiates four square dimensions with serene blue colour. The Chinese characters for natural objects, such as flower, bird, moon and tree, flow slowly down randomly. The moment the shadow of the audience’s head or hand touches the characters, the ink calligraphy changes into colourful animations of a butterfly flapping its wings or a firefly flitting around. A full moon embraces all this with an aura of tranquillity.



Inoko’s objective is to lead the world’s visual art. The surprising, cutting-edge projects by teamLab has been widely talked about worldwide.

TeamLab also produced a 19:25 minute animated feature, “Flower and Corpse Glitch”, exclusively for the exhibition. A digital narrative with the theme of showing great awe towards nature, it has already found a buyer even before the opening of the exhibition.

Another avant garde artist whose work is being exhibited is Yasumasa Morimura. He has won fame and fans for his self portraits, in which he himself would appear as the painting’s protagonist.

On display at the exhibition is his faithful reproduction of 17th Century Dutch painter Jan Vermeer’s masterpiece, “Girl with a Pearl Earring”.

Morimura’s latest creation is a 4 minute 12 second motion video, “Vermeer Study: Looking back”, which provides a story line for mysterious painting, “Girl with a Pearl Earring”. It will be open to the public for the first time. The price tag: S$40,000 (excluding the LCD screen).

Other exhibits include Cryptic LED art by Ben Rubin (USA) and geometric animation depicting objects in New York City by John F. Simon Jr (USA).

The price range of the artworks that’s on display is between S$8,500 and S$150,000.

The exhibition, which runs from Sept 13 to Oct 27, is open to the public as is the opening event on Sept 12 at 7pm.

Visit the exhibit at Ikkan Art Gallery at Artspace@Helutrans, #01-05, Tanjong Pagar Distripark, 39 Keppel Road, Singapore 089065. For more details, visit their website at www.ikkan-art.com or email them at info@ikkan-art.com.