The Artists’ Voice

By Charlotte Lee October 2, 2015

The Lumen Prize Exhibition 2015 arrived in London last week, kicking off what promises to be our best global tour to date.

But Lumen doesn’t just bring great art to the table. Each Lumen event includes a digital art seminar or workshop – sometimes both. Last week, ahead of the Winners’ Gala, we were lucky enough to have six of the 2015 Lumen Prize Exhibition artists on hand to provide valuable insights into their creative process.

First up was William Latham, one of the leading names in the digital art field globally and a Professor of Computing at Goldsmith University London. He took to the stage to discuss how his work has developed since the late 1980s, when he first delved into digital art. Taking inspiration from natural forms and genetics, William uses the computer to ‘breed’ ideas culminating in works such as his Lumen Prize Exhibition work Mutator 2 Triptych. Admitting that one of his sources of inspiration is heavy metal imagery, despite not actually being a fan of the music, it was fascinating to see how so many different avenues merge together in his work.

Anaïs met den Ancxt one half of the artist duo Scenocosme – the winners of the Lumen Prize Silver Award – was up next. Placing physical interaction, sound and digital technology side-by-side, Scenocosme creates multisensory experiences that beg you to reach out and touch them. Offering an immersive environment that the audience responds to physically, Anaïs explained how works such as Metamorphy are points where nature and technology collide.

As Lumen is based in Wales, it was great to have Marcus West, a Cardiff-based artist, talking about his work which goes all the way back to the beginning of the computer age. Looking at his work ‘then and now’ his talk focused on how his artwork has changed in line with the advances in technology. He pinpointed seeing the work of the Op-artist Bridget Riley as a turning point in his aesthetic, pushing him towards works like his 2 Fibonacci images shortlisted this year. What came to the fore in Marcus’s talk was just how intertwined nature and digital art is – a topic that cropped up for nearly all the speakers. Emphasising the role of the Fibonacci sequence, Marcus even provided a tutorial on how to create works of art based on the Golden Ratio – creating a spiral that could, in theory, go on indefinitely.

Anne Spalter, author of The Computer in the Visual Arts, then showed what lies behind her kaleidoscopic imagery. She showed how her photos – often taken when on holiday – were transformed into mesmerising works of art, offering a rare view of how a digital work is created. Time of day takes on a particular significance in Anne’s work, offering the hypnotic colours that are central to her imagery. Transporting us to Bora Bora, Anne recalled how she stood under a palm tree at different times of the day and captured the images that later became the work Bora Bora: Palm Fronds, consequently warping the natural world into something almost spell-binding.

David Moraton, another Lumen Prize Exhibition artist, concentrated on the concept of synaesthesia – the ability to see colours from sound. Through his work David aims to make visible the invisible – reflecting his own internal experience that occurs when he hears music. David too offered a glimpse of the ‘making of’ his shortlisted work Visus Sonitus I. Choreographed to the 1972 ‘Cantus Arcticus’ by the Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara, the work takes music into a whole other dimension, providing the audience with a stereoscopic experience.

To conclude the talks, Beatrice Lartigue, part of the collective LAB212 and winners of this year’s WNO Performance Award, discussed colour, music and space. It was great to hear that in a world revolving so much around technology and machines these artists aim to keep the human in mind – concentrating their work on establishing a dialogue between artist, audience and machine. In their winning work Portee/ music intertwines with the digital world responding to the physical interaction and presence of the viewer, creating a multisensory experience that exists between the spheres of music and the visual arts, with the aid of a grand piano!

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