MORE THAN REAL.
ART IN THE DIGITAL AGE.
The 2018 Summit was curated by acclaimed Swedish museum director Daniel Birnbaum of the Moderna Museet Stockholm. Emerging technologies and their impact on art, culture, economy and environment were key topics in the discussions, and the innovative possibilities for art were explored during the Summit.
Daniel Birnbaum on his choice for the 2018 Summit theme: “Technology will change art in the most fundamental way. As Walter Benjamin said, it is art's task to create a demand which can be fully satisfied only later. I believe that some artists can be said to anticipate the digital possibilities that are being developed with such speed today. For instance, was Salvador Dalí already thinking in terms of virtual reality?”
The 2018 Verbier Art Summit partnered with several cultural institutions. Further to an introduction by Verbier Art en Mouvement, the Summit collaborated with the Centre d'Art Contemporain Genève, which presented a digital programme at the Verbier Cinema. In addition, the EPFL + ECAL Lab demonstrated a VR prototype, the Verbier 3-D Foundation organized an art walk in the snow, and the Verbier Festival added a musical element relating to the digital theme.
Olafur Eliasson shared how he employs natural elements and technical devices to transform museums and public areas into immersive environments. He will also discuss the recent VR work he created with developer and digital colourist Dado Valentic. Artist Anicka Yi examined concepts of "the biopolitics of the senses": how physical perception is shaped by assumptions related to gender, race, and class. The artist Ed Atkins discussed the use of cutting edge digital technologies to address the virtuality of our world, and its effect on our lives. Furthermore, the Swiss artist Pamela Rosenkranz explained how her work engages with the reality of materials beyond our subjectivity. Acclaimed writer and artist Douglas Coupland looked at how technology impacts our way of thinking and perceiving.
The Summit was happy to host MoMA curator Michelle Kuo who spoke on Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.). Professor of Cognitive science and Neurorobotics Paul Verschure, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, discussed a unified theory of mind, brain and body, which will be used to develop new cognitive technologies for robots. The influential German art curator and museum director Susanne Pfeffer discussed the exhibitions she curated at Kassel’s Fridericianum which address the virtual rise of the internet as a shift in our physical reality. Curator and art critic Karen Archey explored how art can be redefined for the age of the internet.
Daniel Birnbaum is the director of Moderna Museet in Stockholm. From 2000 to 2010 he was the Rector of Städelschule in Frankfurt and Director of its kunsthalle Portikus. He is contributing editor of Artforum in New York and has curated a number of large exhibitions, including Airs de Paris at Centre Pompidou in Paris (in co-operation with Christine Macel) in 2007. Birnbaum was the director of the 2009 Venice Biennale. He is the author of numerous books on art and philosophy and is the co-editor (with Isabelle Graw) of the Insitut für Kunstkritik series published by Sternberg Press. He recently joined the board of directors of Nobel Media, the organization that manages all the events surrounding the Nobel prizes.
Artist Olafur Eliasson works in a wide range of media, including installation, painting, sculpture, photography, and film. Since 1997, his solo shows have appeared in major museums around the world. Eliasson’s projects in public spaces include The New York City Waterfalls in 2008, and Ice Watch, shown in Copenhagen in 2014 and Paris in 2015. As part of his practice, he engages with arts education, policy-making, and the issues of sustainability and climate justice. He has been active in the digital realm for many years and has recently begun to explore the potential of virtual reality.
Since 1991 Coupland has written thirteen novels published in most languages. He has written and performed for England’s Royal Shakespeare Company and is a columnist for The Financial Times of London. In 2000 Coupland amplified his visual art production and has recently had two separate museum retrospectives, Everything is Anything is Anywhere is Everywhere at the Vancouver Art Gallery, The Royal Ontario Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, and Bit Rot at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, and Villa Stücke in Munich in the fall of 2017. In 2015 and 2016 Coupland was artist in residence in the Paris Google Cultural Institute. Coupland is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy, an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Officer of the Order of British Columbia, a Chevlier de l'Order des Arts et des Lettres and receiver of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence.
Anicka Yi is an artist whose practice relates to synthetic biology, bio engineering, extinction, and bio fiction. Her work examines concepts of "the biopolitics" of the senses" or how assumptions and anxieties related to gender, race, and class shape physical perception. Anicka Yi lives and works in New York City. Recent institutional solo exhibitions of her work include the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Fridericianum, Kassel; Kunsthalle Basel; List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts; The Kitchen, New York; and The Cleveland Museum of Art. In 2016, she was awarded the Hugo Boss Prize. Yi has screened her film, The Flavor Genome, at the 2017 Whitney Biennial and the International Film Festival of Rotterdam, 2017.
Ed Atkins is an artist who makes videos, writes and draws, developing a complex and deeply figured discourse around definition, wherein the impossibilities for sufficient representations of the physical, specifically corporeal, world — from computer generated imagery to bathetic poetry — are hysterically rehearsed. Solo presentations include Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin; MMK Frankfurt; DHC/ART, Montréal (all 2017); Castello di Rivoli, Turin; The Kitchen, New York (both 2016); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2015) and The Serpentine Gallery, London (2014). An anthology of his texts, “A Primer for Cadavers”, was published by Fitzcarraldo Editions in 2016, and an extensive artist’s monograph from Skira came out this past Autumn. Atkins lives and works in Berlin.
Pamela Rosenkranz’s work addresses the shifting philosophical and scientific meanings of the ‘natural’ and the ‘human’ during the time of the Anthropocene (the geological epoch marked by the impact of human activities on the ecosystem). Rosenkranz deploys a palette of patented icons—polyethylene water bottles, soft drinks, Ralph Lauren latex paint, JPEGs of International Klein Blue, Ilford photo paper, and ASICS sneakers—augmented by flesh-toned silicone and acrylic paint. By challenging the distinction between the natural and the artificial, Rosenkranz addresses the evolutionary and material dynamics underlying perception, art, and culture.
Susanne Pfeffer took on the role as new director of the Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK) in Frankfurt am Main from 1 January 2018. The curator of Anne Imhof’s Golden Lion–winning project at the German Pavilion of the 2017 Venice Biennale, and contributor to Artforum, Pfeffer became head of Kassel’s Fridericianum in 2013. At the Fridericianum she explored posthuman futures with shows such as “Speculations on Anonymous Materials” (2013) and its sequels, “Nature After Nature” (2014) and “Inhuman” (2015). Susanne was artistic director at the Künstlerhaus Bremen from 2004-2006 and chief curator of the KW Insitute of Contemporary Art in Berlin from 2007-2012.
Lars Bang Larsen
Lars Jakob Bang Larsen is adjunct curator of international art at Moderna Museet. He is a guest professor in art theory, at the Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm, visiting lecturer at the program in art, culture and technology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, and professeur invité and tutor at Haute Ecole d’Art et de Design, Geneva. Lars is a post doc fellow at the Institute of Art and Cultural History, University of Copenhagen, from where he also holds his PhD on psychedelic concepts in neo-avantgarde art. Lars organised several exhibitions, and was co-curator with Jochen Volz of the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo 2016: Incerteza Viva (Live Uncertainty). He wrote several publications and is a contributor to various art magazines (including Artforum).
Michelle Kuo is The Marlene Hess Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. She was the Editor in Chief of Artforum from 2010-2017, helming the 50th anniversary issue of the magazine as well as numerous other special issues on topics ranging from new media to painting to identity politics. Kuo is the author of essays on the work of Robert Rauschenberg, Le Corbusier and Jeff Koons, among others; has lectured widely at institutions including the Centre Pompidou and the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing; contributes to publications such as October and The Art Bulletin; and delivered the 2012 International Association of Art Critics’ Distinguished Lecture. She is also working on a book about the subject of her PhD dissertation, the postwar group Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.).
Paul F.M.J. Verschure is Catalan Institute of Advanced Studies (ICREA) Research Professor, Director of the neuro-engineering program at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalunya and the Barcelona Institute of Science and technology where he runs the Synthetic Perceptive, Emotive and Cognitive Systems (SPECS) Laboratory. He is an associate professor in Computation and Artificial Intelligence at the University Pompeu Fabra. He is founder/CEO of Eodyne Systems S.L., which is commercializing novel science grounded neurorehabilitation and cultural heritage technologies. Paul is founder/Chairman of the Future Memory Foundation which aims at supporting the development of new tools and paradigms for the conservation, presentation, and education of the history of the Holocaust and Nazi crimes. Complementary to his science, Paul has developed and deployed over 35 art installations and performances.
Dado Valentic is a Chief Creative Technologist at Acute Art, world’s leading platform for VR Art production and distribution. Faced with the task of overcoming the technical limitations of current VR, Dado has developed an entirely new approach to working in VR based on his experience as a researcher in the area of perception and optical illusion. He is working closely with some of the world’s leading contemporary artist and transforming their vision into interactive VR Artworks. Dado is an award-winning colourist and colour scientist with a long-standing contribution in the field of innovation of digital imaging. He has been working on some of the best-known Feature Film and TV productions including Sherlock Holmes, Exodus, Game of Thrones, Marco Polo, Total Recall and more. He was one of the inventors of Colour Managed Workflow that has today become a standard for the most high-end feature and episodic TV productions and continues to be one of the most innovative creative technologists.
Karen Archey is Curator of Contemporary Art, Time-based Media at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. She was previously based in Berlin and New York, where she worked as an independent curator, art critic, and editor of e-flux conversations. Archey was a 2015 Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant recipient for short-form writing. With a focus on feminist practices, art and technology, her writing is regularly featured in magazines such as frieze and ArtReview, and anthologies published by institutions such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, MIT Press and New Museum. Archey recently co-curated the survey exhibition Art Post-Internet at Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing (2014) and edited the publication Art Post-Internet: INFORMATION/DATA. A regular public speaker, Archey has recently spoken at Renaissance Society at University of Chicago, Institute of Contemporary Arts London, Museum of Modern Art New York, MoMA PS1, and elsewhere.
This book is the outcome of the 2018 Verbier Art Summit, organized in cooperation with Daniel Birnbaum. By sharing the content of the Summit through this publication the global dialogue continues.