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 been going on for a long time. Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab’s (C-LAB) Annual Future Media Arts Festival focuses this discussion around the future through media art. Twenty-four works by 23 individual and collective artists from Taiwan and abroad can currently be viewed online or in person until November 28.
Organized by the Taiwan Living Arts Foundation, the C-LAB Future Media Arts Festival offers an eclectic mix of exhibitions carefully curated to allow attendees to experience this future technology through broadcast media, installation, theatre, performance, conferences and seminars. Many of the installations explore the present, past and future of technology. The Festival’s online platform makes its debut in “Unzip C-LAB”. Using interaction through its exhibitions and events, C-LAB invites viewers to explore and contemplate our relationship to technology. It also offers its global audience hands-on practice through workshops, conferences, and forums to demystify the coding that makes it.
In sugar foot, An animated video of American experimental rock band Battles, Transformer-style robots from the current Earth band together to fight Covid-19. When it seems the battle is lost, Earth transforms to unleash its secret musical weapon to destroy the virus and win the day. NFTs and NFT trading are examined more closely in TFN-Technological Finding Netbot. This production, co-produced with the Hong Kong-based Microwave International New Media Arts Festival, investigates 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 Edition exposes how fake news is spread online. This project by the German NGO Tactical Tech explores the weaknesses of our social media platforms and their ability to become propaganda vehicles for political purposes.
Artificial intelligence is also in play in many festival offerings. In Big Dada: public faces, American artists Bill Posters and Daniel Howe create a deep fake using AI-synthesized celebrities to spread misinformation. AI and real-time imagery transform meandering rivers on the Earth’s surface into beautiful sound and visual installations in the German-based onformative work, Winding river. Taiwanese artist Huang Yu-Hsiung also uses machine learning to transform sounds and trajectories into fascinating images, while American artist Kiel D. Mutschelknaus creates the ultimate collage of interactivity and design in Space type generator.
Although it is a future-themed event, the festival also acknowledges the past. The sugar industry rose to prominence in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial era and was a vital part of its economic strength. Artists Hsu Chia-Wei, Chang Ting-Tong and Cheng Hsien-Yu reflected on this past when they visited Huwei Sugar Factory in Yunlin County. Their findings served as inspiration for crystal seedingwhere they used sugar as a 3D printing material to create a unique theatrical experience with traditional puppets and a robotic arm!
The traditions of 16th century engraving are also brought up to date, when traditional roles are reversed in Inverso Mundus, where men and women, the butcher and the pig, the pauper and the prince trade their places. Russian art group AES+F reinvents these roles with a modern twist, adding a critique that speaks for itself.
C-LAB was launched in 2018 by the Taiwan Living Arts Foundation with a mission to provide 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 that was taken over after the end of the Japanese colonial era. It has since evolved into a center for artistic, technological, scientific and musical collaboration. Here you will find a contemporary art platform, a technology media platform, a sound lab, a social innovation lab and research labs for high-performance computing, with many more facilities to come.
Programming innovations include “Future Vision Lab,” which runs alongside the festival; it features The Dome, a hemispherical experiential space for immersive audio performances and 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 the right hands, technology can save the future. In hands that tend otherwise, 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 viewable in person and online until November 28.
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