A Longlist Close-up

By Carla Rapoport August 25, 2017

How many artists does it take to create a cutting-edge piece of digital art that will qualify for a Lumen Prize Longlist? In most cases, particularly in web-based, still and moving image, the answer is one or two artists. For categories such as Interactive and 3D/Sculpture, it’s usually a group of artists. But there’s always an exception to this and this year, it’s Universal Everything’s Screens of the Future, an ongoing project developed by a whole host of artists and creative teams based in the UK.

If you take a look at their website, you can see that the collective’s work ranges from stunning artistic creations for festivals and galleries to commissioned works for well-known brands including the Sydney Opera House, Microsoft, and Deutsche Bank. This kind of cross-over for artists and creative teams is increasingly common – and welcome – considering how expensive it is to create a work using the latest technology. And while works incorporating brand names aren’t eligible for entry to the Lumen Prize, other works by the same artists certainly are. As we see it, the kind of  support and patronage that big companies offer artists working with technology is similar to the support and patronage of the Church in Michelangelo’s day. Surely the Sistine Chapel would have a white ceiling if it wasn’t for religious patrons of the arts.

The ‘project’ nature of Screens of the Future provides a sharp contrast with most of the other moving-image works in this year’s longlist, such as NonCorrelated by Omar Pekin and Sven Winkler, based in Turkey. This one is a single video installation, also using mapping technologies, and like most of the works in the longlist, it’s a one-off. Other moving-image longlist works are even simpler in their scope, just using video itself to create their message, such as Whisper Diving by Michael Tan in Germany and Reperes (Landmarks) by Karoline Georges in Canada.

As these examples show, this year’s longlist offers an unprecedented range of artistic approaches to creating art with digital tools. Do take a look – there’s still a few days left to vote for your favourite for the People’s Choice Award which closes September 1.

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