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11th Digital Art Festival Taipei focuses on the relationship between humans and technology

1.Artists and staff at the 2016 Digital Art Festival Taipei.

Digital technology has become an integral part of the modern world and has led to a daily bombardment of information. Artists intrigued by this phenomenon took a closer look at the 2016 Digital Art Festival Taipei.

Entering its 11th year, the festival gathers tech-minded artists and professionals to showcase their creations and exchange ideas, and also serves as a record of digital art development in Taiwan. This year’s theme—“in Subject”—refers to the joy of mastering technology and was designed to explore the relationship between humans and technology, said Chung Yung-feng, commissioner of Taipei’s Department of Cultural Affairs.

Digital art advances over time and evolves with new technology. Thus, the goal of the festival is to keep up with the latest trends and demonstrate Taiwan’s unique creativity in this artistic genre, said Chung.

From November 11 to 20 at the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, an international digital art exhibition, held together with the 11th Digital Art Awards Taipei and International Artist in Residence Exhibition, showcased a diverse range of vigorous interpretations of digital art in the contemporary world. In addition to the many exhibitions, there were also forums, performances, workshops and guided tours.

The exhibition featured a dozen digital creations by artists from the Netherlands, France, Japan, Germany, the US, and other countries, each taking very different approaches: Some works looked at trends in technology, while others explored the worlds of virtual reality, biological art, and genetic privacy.

The festival theme implies that humans can have fun with technology, explore its organic qualities, and gain knowledge, literacy, and practical skills, which are prerequisites for people in the modern world if they are to regain their status as subjects, said curator Wang Kuan-tin.

2. Brazilian artist Ivan Henriques with his work Caravel, designed to purify polluted water. (Photo courtesy of DOCA)

The highlight of the festival was an exhibition showcasing eight pieces created by international artists that touched on the subjects of nature, culture, and biological genes, and showcased the value of cross-field cooperation of art and science.

Brazilian artist Ivan Henriques’s work “Caravel” is a technological creation designed to purify polluted water. Consisting og water-purifying plants (Pistia), carbon brush, geobacter, and glass, Caravel is a hexagonal installation that floats on the water’s surface and uses Microbial Fuel Cell technology to generate electricity from anaerobic bacteria and organic components. At the same time, it uses its integrated plants to clean the environment of pollutants.

NONOTAK Studio’s 2014 work “DAYDREAM V.02” is an audiovisual installation that generates spatial distortion to explore the relationship between space, time, acceleration, contraction, shifts, and metamorphosis. The installation is meant to establish a physical connection between the real and the virtual space, thus blurring boundaries and temporarily displacing the viewer from real life.

Japanese artist Jun Kamei’s creation “Mothers of Pearl”, made of wood, calcium carbonate, and glass, transforms human breath into crystalized layers of pearl. Each captured breath contains carbon dioxide and is thus a unique record of one’s everyday life. The work aims to question our relationship with objects and challenge our perception of values.

Dutch designer Anouk Wipprecht contributed an avant-garde design—a dress that can make a cocktail. “Drinkbot Dress” consists of leather and electronic components, and was made using 3D printing techniques. The robotic cocktail dress is equipped with a backpack carrying a microcontroller and pump to supply the fluids, and the heart-shaped center holds a shot glass while the drink is poured. At the touch of a button, the dress serves up a mini Gin & Tonic.

This garment is an updated version of the 2011 work “Daredroid”, and combines medical technology, customized hardware, and biological identification techniques, offering the wearer interesting experiences that transcend mere fashion. Transdisciplinary artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg made two pieces focusing on genetic privacy. “Stranger Visions” consists of portrait sculptures created by making 3D portraits from DNA samples left behind by strangers in public spaces. Dewey-Hagborg gathered and analysed the samples and created the sculptures to draw attention to the concept of genetic determinism and warn of the possibility of entering an era of genetic surveillance.

NONOTAK Studio’s 2014 work “DAYDREAM V.02” explores the relationship between space, time, acceleration, contraction, shifts, and metamorphosis. (Photo courtesy of DOCA).

The second work by Dewey-Hagborg—“The Official Biononymous Guidebooks”—tackles the subject of biological surveillance: the tracking, monitoring, analysis, and recording of human physical data. Biological surveillance can include extracting DNA and microbe samples from skin, nails, hair, and bodily fluids.

“Giving What You Don’t Have (GWYDH)” by Cornelia Sollfrank is an artistic research project exploring the relationship between art and the commons. It uses filmed interviews to collect the works of several artists in order to help create a digital commons. The project is presented digitally, using a digital platform, database, free software, and digital tools rather than conventional art forms.

NAXS Corp’s artwork “Render Ghost” is a theatrical performance where the audience is the actors. It employs a virtual reality device and a theatrical space to lead the audience on a journey between reality and virtuality.

Art Awards

Three art awards were presented coinciding with the festival: the 11th Digital Art Awards Taipei, the 11th K.T. Creativity Awards, and the 7th Digital Art Performance Award, all of which were set up to encourage creativity and innovation in the area of digital art.

Founded in 2006, the Digital Art Awards Taipei is the most representative of its kind in Taiwan. This year, 10 artworks won prizes across a wide range of themes and genres, including digital technology conditioning, exploration of reality and fiction, motion and perception, memories of daily life, and more.

The K.T. Creativity Awards aim to build a bridge between industry and human resources in order to promote creativity and innovation in Taiwan. The 17 winning pieces came from different fields including interactive technology, animation, and gaming.

Artist in Residence Project

Held annually during the festival since 2009, the International Artist in Residence Project provides Taiwanese and foreign artists with exchange opportunities through reciprocal residency and exhibitions to round out the program.

4. Dutch designer Anouk Wipprecht’s “Drinkbot Dress”.  (Photo courtesy of DOCA).

Taiwanese new media artist Yen-Tzu Chang and budding French sound artist Igor Keltchewsky took part in this year’s exchange. Chang’s work “Imprint of City” is an interactive installation that transforms voices captured in urban life into rock. The installation features simultaneous tactile and auditory sensations.

Keltchewsky’s work “Copper Veins” is a combination of video games and musical composition. Notes and chords created by players as they play are recorded and turned into incidental music, making this work a perfect union of entertainment, experimentation, and originality.

To learn more about the festival, please visit: http://www.dac.tw/daf16.