Every year, Lumen is honoured to receive a strong contingent of academics entering the competition. This year was no different, with the result that about 15% of our longlist is made up of artists who teach or are studying. I was lucky enough to hear back from five on how they juggle their careers between the twin demands of academia and creating their art. In the first of these, Cesar & Lois, the two go hand-in-glove as part of the creative process.
Cesar & Lois
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Cesar Baio is an artist, professor and researcher. He is a visiting artist-researcher at i-DAT (Plymouth University | U.K.) and associate professor at Universidade Federal do Ceará | Brazil. Degenerative Cultures is an artwork by Cesar & Lois, a collective composed of Cesar Baio and The League of Imaginary Scientists, a Los Angeles-based art group specialising in art/science collaborations.
Cesar & Lois brings students into our process. Learning and making go hand in hand. Each new idea, each iteration of a project involves experimentation. One important thing for a collective is recognizing strengths, so if a student has strong drafting capabilities or research skills, we will find a way to integrate those into the project at hand. The student who draws really well ends up drawing studies of the organism we are working with. Somehow this drives the process in a new direction, provides new avenues for thinking about what we are working on. The student with research skills feeds the project in another way. Because we are a collective, students get a chance to see how a fully collaborative group functions, how the crowd can instigate and interrupt and then the collective mind pulls everything into shape. Cesar often will say, “Let’s think together.” That’s what we do.
When making art we try to make it so that the things that are vibrating inside of us resonate in others’ bodies, and the classroom is one place for that. Art and education have different methods and objectives but both of them have to do with sensibility, meaningful exchange and dialogue. For the Brazilian education expert Paulo Freire, education is the practice of freedom that positions teaching not as a system for the transmission of knowledge but as a process where professor and student collaborate, discover and construct a common understanding about the world and life. Following this idea, Cesar & Lois tries to create a space for dialogue where we bring our collective experience to feed interactions with the students. The goal is to be in the mindset in which we are “permanently available to rethink the already thought, review [my] points”, as Freire says. As a collective, we also rethink together.
Queering the Map
Currently studying for BFA, Design & Computational Art, Concordia University
I am a multidisciplinary designer, artist, and researcher using my work as a tool to both critique contemporary culture and explore tangible alternatives. I view design as a critical mediator between the individual, the collective and the environment, and as integral to the actualization of an ecologically responsible and socially just world. My work uses digital media, graphic design, body architecture, and wearable technology as a means of examining and manipulating the interactions between the queer body, technology and cyber/physical space. A firm believer in the necessity of imagining utopia, my practice contends with the problems of the ‘here and now’ as a means of engaging with the future imaginary. As a designer straddling both theory and practice, much of my design process involves synthesizing complex theories in order to make them accessible and relevant outside the ivory tower of academia.
My practice emerges from the conviction that design is a vehicle for radical social change. This feeling is grounded in my experience growing up queer in a small conservative town in which I felt extremely isolated from people who shared an orientation that differed from compulsory cis-heteronormativity. Coming into consciousness in tandem with the proliferation of the Internet, much of my socialization occurred through the means of networked technologies, and it was in these virtual spaces that I first encountered other queer people expressing themselves outside of the oppressive frameworks that constituted my embodied reality. I saw boys on YouTube proudly teaching their thousands of followers how to create the perfect smoky-eye. I saw queers on Tumblr using clothing as a means of resistance to expected models of gendered presentation. I saw videos of thousands of LGBTQ2S+ people organizing in the streets for the legalization of same-sex marriage, holding signs that communicated complex sentiments in 20 words or less. These representations, made possible through multiple forms of design, fortified me.
My practice is embedded in a desire to imagine, and take concrete steps towards, a queer utopian version of the world that is actively engaged with the histories of LGBTQ2S+ activism. While this utopia may never come, the destination is not the goal, but rather the productive force that acts as a point of orientation within an endlessly complex world.
Laura Hyunjhee Kim
Synthetic Empathic Intelligent Companion Artefacts (SEICA) Human Interaction Labs
Palo Alto, California, USA
Currently a PhD student in Intermedia Art, Writing and Performance (IAWP) at the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Media, Communication and Information
Inspired by viral memes, lo-fi pop music, narrative found-footage film, and kitschy low-budget commercials, my projects stem from playing with tropes found in popular culture and DIY amateur aesthetics of the net. Through performance-driven multimedia works, thematically, I question conversations around the next big thing – how our (un)certain technological future is packaged and portrayed by the industry and media.
Synthetic Empathic Intelligent Companion Artefacts (SEICA) Human Interaction Labs is a 12 personae multimedia performance that takes place at a virtual organization. The primary goal of the researchers at SEICA Human Interaction Labs is to conduct multimedia research on the modern human- (tech)-human relationship from a cyborgian standpoint and prototype empathic (non) living entities that provide companionship, namely “Companion Artefacts.”
Considering the media attention received by humanoids such as Hanson Robotics’ Sophia and Softbank’s Otonaroid, modern consumers are increasingly exposed to real-world synthetic forms that resemble the female human body. However, recent survey results from well-known start-ups and corporations that research, fund, and eventually commercialize these types of efforts still show an overall lack of women and QTPOC involvement in leadership positions. How can we (re)write a coexistent future of human and (non)living machines without the direct involvement of diverse decision-makers? As an Asian-American woman who works with digital media and especially the body, I felt the need to address this question in collaboration with like-minded artists, writers, scholars, and last but not least, a rogue virtual team of thinkers and tinkers as a provocation and an active subject.
Updated with newer strategic tools for subversion, the project has been accelerating at an exponential speed and taking unexpected neurotic twists and turns since I joined the practice-based Ph.D. program in Intermedia Art, Writing, and Performance (IAWP) at the University of Colorado Boulder.
ProPhoto RGB (Front View)
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Assistant Professor of Photography, Loyola University, Maryland
In a lot of ways, my work comes directly from my participation in academia – specifically thinking of my practice in terms of “research” and also the content matter my work addresses. Without the central question of “how do digital technologies change the viewer’s relationship with art”, my practice would be very different indeed.
In the broad sphere of my practice, I’m a photographer who doesn’t necessarily take photographs, but rather, uses the photographic medium and techniques as a point of enquiry into understanding “what it is and how we see it”, where I’m especially interested in the translations between the physical and digital viewing experiences. With the popularisation of Instagram, the Google Art Project and other online viewing platforms, I can see the great art of the world without leaving my desk or looking up from my phone – but it’s clearly a different experience of viewership, and that’s what my research attempts to catalogue, represent and interpret through my artistic practice.
Outside of the traditional gallery, I also use Instagram to disseminate my work, specifically a new project (@museumstairwells), where I’m examining the physical experience of viewing art, without actually looking at much (if any) of the artwork. Architecture, lighting, juxtaposition, works that don’t allow photography, the processes behind creation and exhibition – all of these ancillary details are lost when work is translated from its original context/form.
The work that was longlisted comes from a body of work that was born through my search of better ways to explain to my students why colour management in (digital) photography is so crucial to the final presentation of their work. By working with (virtual and physical) 3-dimensional models of colorspaces, I’m able to directly illustrate what shifts, translations, and removals occur when images are improperly colour managed, or printed by a device incapable of reproducing certain colours. The works here are once-removed from that original 3d model, using a virtual camera in 3d visualization software to create a “photograph” of the model, which is then printed onto a CNC-machined aluminum surface referencing the actual shapes of the model as seen in the virtual space.
Professor at Creative Campus Universidad Andrés Bello, Chile, teaching and researching in the fields of new media and light art.
Sergio Mora-Diaz is a new media artist and architect whose work focuses on the development of immersive experiences, installations and live performances through the use of interactive media, projections and light, exploring the relationship between physical spaces, digital technologies and human perception.
Sergio holds a masters from New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. His works have been exhibited internationally at different art spaces and festivals, such as Arts + Bits Festival 2015 in Katowice, Poland, Santiago a Mil International Festival 2018 and Küze Light Festival 2017 in Santiago, Chile.
He has been invited to participate in Choreographic Coding Lab, a research project by the Forsythe Company, Virtual Reality Lab at the Samsung Global Innovation Center and a Technology Residency at Pioneer Works. He combines his professionally life with academia by holding two day jobs, one as creative director at Sinestesia LIE, a center for creative industries and innovation in Santiago, Chile, and the other at the Creative Campus of the University of Andrés Bello, Chile.
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