Friday, 14 June 2019

Natural Selection June 2019

The amazingly produced 3 panel video installation - an absolute treasure and a must watch

Until 15 September 2019

I'm delighted to see this exhibition visiting Bristol, after being jealous about the Shetland leg of the tour earlier this year. It's a fascinating story, split into two sections across the museum. 

The first part sets out putting to bed my naive understanding of birds nests. I'm reassured when Andy points out there has been very little research into the subject. Along with his father Peter, they give us a captivating 101 course in birds nests. There's many types of structures and materials used. As well as hints at ingenuity in bird building and design. Demonstrated by the case study of the male bowerbird, who builds a nest like structure then decorates with brightly coloured objects to attract a mate.

In the second space we are introduced to a baffling side of life through an exposé about egg collectors. These smugglers go to lengths to collect rare birds eggs. They would stash their eggy treasures out of sight of anyone, in fear of prosecution. The exhibition features beautifully reproduced replica eggs from a major egg bust. I only imagine they refer to the bust as a scramble - which saw the RSPB destroying a huge haul of over 7000 eggs. On one hand you think what a waste, but on the other you realise they can't support such activities. These eggs should never have existed as a prize of human enjoyment. They should have hatched birds to continue life rather than endangering. As our crow narrator points out we must learn to observe nature, rather than feel we need to touch and remove.

Make sure to leave enough time to watch both films which are 30 minutes each.

Until 15 September 2019

Friday, 7 June 2019

London Exhibitions June 2019

Yesterday I was on a work trip to London. After my meetings, I took the opportunity to stay on late and check out a few exhibitions...

It's been about a year since I was last in London. I always enjoy hopping around the museums and galleries when I'm there. In such a big city it's not hard to uncover something relevant to my current work.

Excuse the crappy phone snaps, it's not going to do the work justice. I'll try link out to artists websites.

Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition

Design Museum

The intro kindly hits you with the things you came to see - giving space to inhale the breath of the contents

I loved the processes on show in this archival exhibition. After the crowd pleasing 'opening titles' - you arrive backstage at the set of Kubrick's World. Exploring his obsessive passion for direction through reams of sketches & notes. A clear link from research to outcome demonstrated by the juxtaposition of storyboards next to an Oscar. 

"When you are editing you want to get rid of everything that isn't essential" Kubrick
With so much material on offer, editing and curating artefacts for this mammoth exhibition must have been challenging. Don't worry they sure as hell don't hold back, this exhibition is a mouth full even for the hungriest of fans. A point particularly prevalent in Kubrick's own editing process. Things may be better off on the floor if they have no place in the final piece - at any cost!

From sketch to final artwork by Phillip Castle.
I was particularly taken with the process between Kubrick and illustrator Phillip Castle. Starting with letters including early sketches, showing development through concepts towards final artwork. Kubrick gets what he wants. He knows the right people to work with and squeeze out the extra juice. This in depth, yet glimpse, at his process is inspiring for any fan.

AI: More than Human


This exhibition allures with all the flashy, shiny things. Context is welcome via historical artefacts that suck you into the artificial world. Human's attempts at understanding that world in depictions of religions and cultural references. 

In Jewish folklore, Golem is an animated anthropomorphic
From a robotic cat character in the kids cartoon Doraemon, to wild generated worlds that have their own ecosystems in Sunshowers by Marija Avramovic and Sam Twidale. The exhibition continues through the Uncanny Valley, past Blade Runner sci-fi towards real world examples: including early computers and the Enigma Machine which was unfortunately not operational.

If Netflix did exhibitions... oh wait...
Jump to our modern day Netflix era. A self contained section about traditional Chinese board game, "Go". In documentary AlphaGo, programmers show AI the game rules, to understand how the game works. Teaching the machines how to play and how to beat humans, including one of the best players in the world, Lee Sedol. Only, us humans can't accept that sort of defeat. When Sedol eventually wins against the programme it's deemed to be the "Hand of God". Surely, something a computer can't have? I mean... (let's not go too far down that route). Fascinating. Watch the documentary on Netflix.

Generated artwork in Mosaic Virus, by Anna Ridler shows beauty beyond possibilities of human conception. Such beauty can only be likened to plant life. But along with narratives of our consumeristic world, our ever fragile natural world is not forgotten here. Can AI backtrack our destruction of the planet? Self building robots that can morph to different shapes and environments. Could these be an answer to rebuilding any destruction we cause, or the cause of such terror?

What is constant throughout is how boundaries are blended by AI. Where does AI stop and where does other life begin? Do computers know what we see? Or do we see what we know? I begin to wonder, as computer vision depicts a mess of old audio cables as a dramatic sunset beach scene.

As always AI is at odds with our own advances in technology. Exhibits break down. AV technicians dismantle the magic black boxes to reinstall software. Part and parcel with this field of art. Something which I find reassuring on many levels.

Provocative and entertaining. Plenty to keep your measly little brain occupied. Worth a visit on a rainy summer day.

What a Loving, and Beautiful World by teamLab