What the future holds will depend on who controls the coding.
The promise of technology versus the threat of technology is a conversation that has gone on for a long time. Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab (C-LAB) Annual Future Media Arts Festival focuses this discussion on the future through media art. Twenty-four works by 23 individual and collective artists from Taiwan and abroad are currently on display online or in person through November 28.
Organized by the Taiwan Living Arts Foundation, the C-LAB Future Media Arts Festival offers an eclectic mix of exhibitions carefully designed to allow attendees to experience this future technology through audiovisual media, installations, theater, performances, conferences and seminars. Several of the installations explore the present, past and future of technology. The Festival’s online platform debuts in âUnzip C-LABâ. Using interaction through its exhibits and events, C-LAB invites viewers to explore and contemplate our relationship to technology. It also offers its global audience a hands-on practice through workshops, conferences and forums to demystify the coding that makes it up.
In Sugar foot, an animated video by American experimental rock band Battles of Transformer-style robots from the current Earth band together to fight Covid-19. When it seems the battle is lost, Earth transforms to unleash her secret musical weapon to destroy the virus and win the day. NFT and NFT trading are discussed further in TFN-Netbot for technological research. This production, co-produced with the Hong Kong-based Microwave International New Media Arts Festival, studies the effects of decentralization and anti-authoritarian control of blockchain and digital currencies on our economies.
C-LAB Future Media Arts Festival also addresses the effects of technology and media on our collective social consciousness. The glass room: Misinformation editing exposes how fake news spreads online. This project by the German NGO Tactical Tech explores the weaknesses of our social media platforms and their ability to become vehicles of propaganda for political ends.
Artificial intelligence is also at work in many festival offers. In Big Dada: public faces, American artists Bill Posters and Daniel Howe are creating a deep falsehood by using AI-synthesized celebrities to spread misinformation. AI and real-time imagery transform meandering rivers on the Earth’s surface into magnificent sound and visual installations in Germany-based informative work, Winding river. Taiwanese artist Huang Yu-Hsiung also uses machine learning to transform sounds and trajectories into compelling images, while American artist Kiel D. Mutschelknaus creates the ultimate collage of interactivity and design in Space type generator.
Although this is a future-themed event, the festival also recognizes the past. The sugar industry rose to prominence in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial era and was an essential part of its economic strength. Artists Hsu Chia-Wei, Chang Ting-Tong, and Cheng Hsien-Yu reflected on this past when they visited the Huwei Sugar Factory in Yunlin County. Their findings served as inspiration for Crystal seeding, where they used sugar as a 3D printing material to create a unique theatrical experience with traditional puppets and a robotic arm!
16th century engraving traditions are also updated, when traditional roles are reversed in Inverso Mundus, where men and women, butcher and pig, pauper and prince exchange places. Russian art group AES + F reinvents these roles with a modern twist, adding a critique that speaks for itself.
C-LAB was initiated in 2018 by the Taiwan Living Arts Foundation with the mission of providing an open and inclusive cultural landscape to promote innovation, experimentation and international exchange. The physical site was once a military base and, before that, a research institute which was taken over after the end of the Japanese colonial era. It has since evolved into a center of artistic, technological, scientific and musical collaboration. Here you’ll find a Contemporary Art Platform, Tech Media Platform, Sound Lab, Social Innovation Lab, and High Performance Computing Research Labs, with many more to come.
Among the programming innovations are the âFuture Vision Labâ, which runs parallel to the festival; it presents The Dome, a hemispherical experiential space for performances and immersive audio projections. Presentations will include a lecture and fourteen performances of open calls, guest and self-produced art, music, hand-drawn animation and theater programs. Four experimental works by Arts and technology: creative innovation and consulting project will also be screened during the Festival to showcase Taiwanese creative energy in audiovisual, installation, theater and artistic activism.
In well-meaning hands, technology can save the future. In other outstretched hands, this may not be the case. The C-LAB Future Media Arts Festival explores these possibilities and more, while allowing viewers to add their own understanding and interpretation to all it has to offer.
C-LAB’s annual Future Media Arts festival is now visible in person and online through November 28.
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