Gaze in the Age of Technology
June 15-18, 2023
16 B Orchard St, New York NY
From June 15 - 18, 2023, Museum 54 is thrilled to present the exhibition Gaze in the Age of Technology, curated by Amber He and Yannie Gu, at Chinatown Soup in New York. Featuring seven artists from diverse backgrounds, the exhibition illuminates the ambivalent state of existence in the age of technology through the concept of gaze. With painting, photography, video, installation, and virtual reality, Gaze showcases a series of artworks that delve into the imagery and sensorial experience of being the "gazer" and the "gazed," as well as the tension surrounding the production and analysis of these visual encounters. The exhibition also collaborates with Tactical Tech, a Berlin-based NGO that explores the impacts of technology on society, introducing interactive toolkits and posters to engage visitors with data collection in their daily lives.
The act of gazing is never a neutral observation, but a socially constructed behavior that operates within the realms of power dynamics, desire, and identity. French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre and psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan emphasized the pivotal role of the gaze in shaping an individual's identity. Building upon their ideas, French philosopher Michel Foucault highlighted how the gaze serves as a mechanism for discipline and exertion of power.
In today's era of advanced surveillance technologies and extensive data collection, the gaze has transformed into a digital form of monitoring. Scholar Shoshana Zuboff coined the term "surveillance capitalism" to depict a new economic order that profits from predicting user behavior through massive data accumulation. Similarly, drawing from Foucault's notions of "panopticism" and "biopolitics," South Korea-born German philosopher Byung-Chul Han introduces the concept of "psychopolitics" to reveal how surveillance is enacted in neoliberal societies under the guise of positivity and freedom.
In this exhibition, artists present their multilayered interpretations of gaze. Bobby Cheung's Encyclopedia of Technology surveys a breadth of technological integration in eros, mass media, and energy with computer-generated imagery. Daniel Wheedong Kim's Under the Screen depicts the blurred boundary between Anime and reality in our increasingly screen-mediated society. Amy Alexander's What the Robot Saw envisions an omnipresent machine gaze that analyzes and curates recently uploaded YouTube videos. Zhanyi Chen's Do Clouds Hate Weather Satellites? contemplates the power dynamic between satellites' vertical surveillance and clouds’ interference on images as a way of resistance. Ansh Patel's Looking Glass immerses audiences in a surveillant viewpoint of CCTV footage through a panoramic vision realized in virtual reality. Tong Wu’s One Man Band narrates the interconnection between one’s physical body and digital doubles through various kinds of gaze. Together, they unfold the intricate relationship between the actor and acceptor - whether they are corporate, state, individual, algorithm, capital, or nature - of the gaze.
Amy Alexander, What the Robot Saw, Livestream Video. Image courtesy of the artist.
Amy Alexander is a professor of Computing in the Arts in the Visual Arts Department at UC San Diego and hackernaut who has been making computationally-based art projects since the 1990s. She is an algorithmic filmmaker and performer who has focused throughout her career on the fuzzy borders between media and the world.
Ansh Patel is a digital artist whose work explores themes of technological control and agency. He creates experimental games, visual art and interactive installations. His works have been exhibited in NYC, Berlin, LA, Vancouver, the Netherlands and Singapore. His academic research at Columbia University centered on human memory in the field of neuroscience. He has also written papers on formulating algorithmic fairness and narrative spaces.
Bobby Cheung is a Shanghai-born New York-based interdisciplinary artist who engages with both visual and sound mediums of art. With color vision deficiency, he enjoys his creative process by going with the flow and exploring ideas beyond traditional practices. His contemporary works play with the concept of integrating portraiture with new media techniques to convey stories of the current. Bobby's friends said that he has the attribute of Alice. Fun, curious, and stupid enough to drop into a rabbit hole.
Daniel Wheedong Kim studied Fine Arts in Hongik University, Seoul and School of Visual Arts, New York. He grew up in 11 different cities and has established a complex cultural identity. As he encountered various cultures and media, he witnessed the world with various realities and values collide and coexist in confusion. He uses Anime as a visual language and material to express the world he sees.
Pierre Depaz is an academic, developer and artist. His artistic practice includes digital games, computer simulations, interactive installations, networked performances and experimental web projects, and has been exhibited in NYC, Paris, Cairo, Abu Dhabi, Brussels and Berlin. He's written software for, amongst others, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the New Museum, the Washington Post, the Open Society Foundations and the Bezirksamt-Neukölln—as well as many remote corners of the web.
Tong Wu is a creative technologist and multimedia artist raised on the Internet. Wu graduated from the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University and the photojournalism program at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her works have been exhibited at INDEX Biennale 2022 in Portugal; Koganechō Art Management Center in Yokohama, Japan; CURRENTS New Media Festival in New Mexico, U.S.; International Documentary Film Festival (IDFA) DocLab Session in Amsterdam, Netherlands; CultureHub & La Mama experimental theater club in New York, U.S.; SandBox Immersive Festival Acceleration Program in Hangzhou, China.
Zhanyi Chen is currently studying at MIT pursuing her MS degree in Art, Culture, and Technology. She explores the metaphors and variations of weather and environment in contemporary culture through nonlinear, interactive narratives. She uses mediations to intervene in the natural environment through digital ideas, trying to capture failed information from unreadable media in the weather and environment.
Tong Wu, Daily Dividuals: One Man Band, 3D animated video, 2021
Image courtesy to the artist.
Tactical Tech is a Berlin-based NGO that engages with citizens and civil-society organizations to explore and mitigate the impacts of technology on society. It develops playful and forward-looking experiences, events and educational resources to invite people to think about how technology influences their lives and changes the world they live in.
Chinatown Soup is a nonprofit startup established in 2010 to benefit local artist initiatives through micro-funding dinners. It built upon this democratic model to design an art space for a neighborhood that has shifted from an immigrant populated enclave to a hotbed for real estate development and the new art scene.
Amber He is an emerging curator and writer. She is interested in the intersection of technology, cultural institutions and new media. Her writings have been published in the Studio Museum and Association for Cultural Economics International.
Yannie Gu is the founder of the artist-run initiative Museum 54. As a multi-disciplinary artist, her work has been exhibited across the United States, and has been featured in international magazines such as Al-Tiba9 Contemporary Art.