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Oct 05 2021

C-LAB Future Media Arts Festival: Imagining the Future Via Online and Offline Projects

by Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab

*This post is sponsored by Taiwan Living Arts Foundation.

TSAI CHI-HUNG & BLAIRE KO, Re-Generative:: update(), 2021, performance, FUTURE VISION LAB. All images courtesy Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab unless otherwise stated.

The Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab (C-LAB) Future Media Arts Festival takes place from October 8 to November 28. C-LAB curator WU Dar-Kuen and guest curator Escher TSAI collaborated on this future-themed event, which includes 24 works produced by 23 artists and collectives from Taiwan and abroad, in addition to lectures and workshops. This exhibition connects to the FUTURE VISION LAB project of the Technology Media Platform in an attempt to imagine the future of media arts. Also, with the creation of the digital platform Unzip C-LAB, the exhibition takes a combined online and offline format, broadening the possibilities for future curatorial practices.

Learning from the Past, Exploring the Present, and Imagining the Future

When digital hegemony and human struggles become commonplace, how much truth and beauty will exist in the future? Amid a pandemic and endless political and socioeconomic instability worldwide, data and parameters may become tools for propaganda and protest. The German NGO Tactical Tech exposes methods by which fake news is spread on social media platforms in The Glass Room (Misinformation Edition), while American artists Bill POSTERS and Daniel HOWE present Big Dada: Public Faces, a deepfake video in which AI-synthesized celebrities share misinformation. TFN-Technological Finding Netbot, co-produced with the Hong Kong-based Microwave International New Media Arts Festival, tackles the issue of NFT trading. It invites reflection on the decentralization and anti-authoritarian control of blockchain and digital currencies, which can lead to the development of new digital creation trading mechanisms. Are these opportunities for a better future or will they eventually be swallowed up by capitalism?

In the current state of unease, American alternative rock band Battles creates a bold proposition for the future. In Sugar Foot, brave cosmic robots battle and defeat Covid-19. Through machine learning, Taiwanese artist HUANG Yu-Hsiung translates life trajectories and sounds into beautiful images. From the perspective of coding, the present is not as bad as it seems. Imagination may inspire optimism in this turbulent world and provide the opportunity to embrace peace of mind.

The future often borrows from or repeats the past. HSU Chia-Wei, CHANG Ting-Tong, and CHENG Hsien-Yu visited the Huwei Sugar Factory in Yunlin County and used sugar as 3D printing materials to create Crystal Seeding. The trio present a contemporary perspective on the development of the sugar industry in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial era through a theater experience that incorporates traditional puppetry methods and a robotic arm, responding to the concept that the future is built on the past. Russian art group AES+F’s Inverso Mundus was inspired by the idea of role reversal in the 16th century printmaking traditions. Images include cross-dressing men and women, a pig cutting open a butcher’s belly, and a beggar giving money to the rich. This imagination from the medieval period may not be as absurd as we think.

BATTLES, Sugar Foot, 2020, video, 4 min 16 sec.
BATTLES, Sugar Foot, 2020, video, 4 min 16 sec.
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FUTURE VISION LAB 2021

C-LAB’s Technology Media Platform once again presents FUTURE VISION LAB, which connects to the Future Media Arts Festival. Planned and supervised by TSAI Chi-Hung, the events in FUTURE VISION LAB 2021 include invited and self-produced programs in addition to experimental cross-disciplinary works solicited through an open-call process, spanning audiovisual art, music, hand-drawn animation, and theater. Through the integration of various disciplines and the immersive projection technologies in the DOME, the limitations of media and the existing imagination of creation and technology are to be broken through.

Exterior of FUTURE VISION LAB.

Diverse Online Activities Unzipped

The debut of the online platform Unzip C-LAB enables more possibilities for viewing the works in the Future Media Arts Festival. By synchronizing online and offline events, more people can enjoy this future-oriented exhibition and consider whether it corresponds to their desires and visions for the future.

PCD Taiwan, TouchDesigner: New Media Hub, and Playaround: Generation and Evolution are also taking place during the exhibition. Pondering on the relationships among programs, people, and society at large, these activities invite the public to interpret and engage in the coding process through participation in workshops, lectures, and forums. As such, the previous extremes of coding and interpretation form a two-way relationship of understanding and exchange, enabling entrance into the world of coding and joint thinking on the possibilities of future media. Some workshop projects will be exhibited during the exhibition.

Devoted to supporting the domestic development of technological art, C-LAB has selected four experimental works from Arts and Technology: Creative Innovation and Counseling Project (AND) to display in the exhibition. Through audiovisual works, installations, theater, and art activism, the exhibition further demonstrates Taiwan’s creative energy in the field of technological art.

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