ART TAIPEI 2022: Artificial, Evolution and Sustainable Future

Oct 31, 2022 10:59AM

The “Artificial, Evolution and Sustainable Future” Exhibition. By Shen Bocheng.

If one says that art and culture have the most profound influence on human thinking and value system, then art creation and art exhibitions play a role in the transformation of human thinking patterns. The exhibition Artificial, Evolution and Sustainable Future is a preliminary attempt and reflection on this new trend.

In this exhibition, an attempt is made through the works of artists to explore: the impact of human civilization on the natural environment; how science and technology may alert and highlight the current status of environmental problems; even further propose how artists imagine by using science and technology to assist, protect, and even find the possibility of mending nature.

Thijs Biersteker_Wither_switchfoil、steel, switchfoil, relay, copper wires _1x1x1m_2021

Civilization/nature, have been a contrasting set of concepts since time immemorial. Civilization symbolizes moving out of nature’s primal wilderness, while nature represents what has not been invaded and polluted by what is artificial and of civilization. However, in terms of the relationship between civilization and nature, these contrasting concepts have also sunk man into a stereotypical, binary faceoff that is difficult to escape from. It is as if while pursuing civilization and development, nature is, by necessity, sacrificed. These contrasting concepts have also become the opposing attitudes and conflicts in values and awareness that are constant in society.

Without a doubt, nature’s disappearance at an accelerated pace accompanies the continuous developments of civilization and technology. Such environment development and trend are indeed a manifestation of the opposing relationship that has existed between civilization and nature since the Industrial Revolution. However, the real question is, can civilization and nature only exist in an opposing relationship, or is there a possible, more innovative future that exists between the two? Moreover, can we use the knowledge and technology that we developed through civilization, to prevent or even repair the continual impact and damage that nature has suffered post-Industrial Revolution?

Y2K千年 虫 無身 知所_BIOSIGNAL PNEUMA_木本植栽、玻璃、金屬、電算器、電子零件、 藝術家聲明_400x600cm_2020

Looking at civilization and nature from the perspective of contemporary environmental technology and the gradually developing environmental awareness, it may be said that, to a certain extent, civilization can indeed effectively assist in mending nature. Although this repair rate from civilization is still far below the current destruction rate, the trend of civilization development and the rate of technological development will likely accelerate the mending process. What we really must think about is how to direct the development trend of technology and human culture to progress from the extraction of natural resources and shift towards the trend of helping to repair the natural environment. From this point of view, the requirements of carbon taxes and green energy, which focus on economic production and consumption behavior, are emphases on how to slow down or even stop attempts to destroy nature in the production and consumption processes. And if the developmental trend of the ideology in human behavior has an absolute influence on the relationship between civilization and nature, then artistic and cultural activities will definitely play an important role in promoting and assisting thereof. Even though the production and consumption of cultural and artistic activities are not the main factors impacting nature, as culture and art are the most exquisite part of human spiritual activities, the influence of art and cultural activities will also be the most far-reaching. In other words, art and culture will more profoundly stimulate human beings into rethinking their relationship with the environment.

Wu Chuan Lun _ Digital Weathering F (β)series _ Lambda Print、mounting on plexiglass (acrylic、aluminum frame)_19.1x70cm_2014

This exhibition attempts to use the artists’ works to show the relationship between civilization and nature and the possible development of moving from opposition to co-prosperity. The exhibition starts with the Coastal Mining series by the young Taiwanese artist Wu Chuan Lun. Wu’s works highlight how industrial wastes (like car seat foam, etc.) being arbitrary disposal in the environment, and the weathered and broken remnants of pollution have become the main scenic attractions on the beach. Through work akin to a field collection of biological science and the interpretation of plastic art, the artist allows the audience to focus on the damaged environment they have never seen.

Wu Chuan Lun _ Digital Weathering Q(α)series _ Lambda Print、mounting on plexiglass (acrylic、aluminum frame) _100x102cm_2014

Another young artist, Chen Sheng-Wen, is even more precise in his work. Through the perspectives gained from economic geography, he explores the current environment that is sacrificed by economic development in Taiwan’s remote rural areas whether it is by the mountains or the seas. His works Mingshiang Alley, Kungtsun Alley (Taihsi Village), Lishui Village, Shoufeng Township, and others, highlight the environmental dirges that are brought into being under the name of economic development. At the same time, Chen Sheng-Wen’s created various creatures composed of waste materials and embroidery. These creatures further highlight how those diverse species, not having the right to vote and speak, are forced into accepting the negative impact of human civilization development trend named economic development on their procreation and proliferation. In the works of these two artists, the audience can intuitively and strongly feel the impact of civilization on nature. What’s more, the artists’ ways of creating works with waste also respond to the recycling portion in the concept of environmental protection and reduce the burden on nature.

Along the lines of the works by Wu Chuan Lun and Chen Sheng-Wen, what follows in the exhibition is the work of the Dutch artist, Thijs Biersteker: WITHER A slice of rainforest disappearing at the Amazon deforestation rate. In this work, the artist uses scientific statistics to present the current events leading to the disappearance of the rainforest. He demonstrates an on-site installation artwork that, with data being transmitted to it, allows the audience to feel the damage and impact suffered by the natural environment in a faraway place in real time. As the audience rears from the impact, they can also become aware of digital surveillance, a term that usually carries a negative connotation. However, when this term is used for monitoring nature and preventative actions, its effects may be reflected in a more positive light. The artist’s work lets digital surveillance become an effective tool in environmental protection, and can link up the environments and environmental protection perspectives on a global scale. In the Anthropocene epoch, environmental issues are no longer a threat to any single region, but a common challenge faced by human beings worldwide. In this era where extreme climates create disasters around the world, every small environmental impact in one location is like generating the butterfly effect, becoming a major disaster in another location. Every ancient tree cut down in the rainforest could very well mean the next round of unexpected hurricanes and droughts.

Chen Sheng-Wen_和美鎮_毛線、棉線、稻草、不鏽鋼條_68x130x5cm_2021-2022

If Thijs Biersteker's works allow the audience to see the possibility of technology in monitoring the environment and waking the public to the problems, then the work Biosignal by the young art group, Y2K, opens up a new imagination of what exists between civilization and nature via technology: helping nature through technology. In the work, Y2K also adopts the concept of digital surveillance to detect the various conditions of plants, tries to deduce the needs of plants based on this, and provides what is necessary for the plant’s survival (water, nutrients, etc.) through automatic control. In Y2K’s imagination, technology is no longer harmful to nature, but rather leans towards a deeper understanding and provides assistance to nature. Therefore, civilization and nature are no longer about the history of how the former developed by exploiting the latter, but rather a future in which the former assists the latter; both can exist and develop together. At the same time, the artist Caroline Rothwell tries to imagine a future where civilization and nature move forward hand in hand. The work Infinite Herbarium creates an endless herbarium in a virtual world through the participation of the audience, allowing scientific “plant collection” (or perhaps more accurately, human plundering) to preserve plant life in a more civilized manner. Technology and civilization are no longer the opposition to nature in this instant but are sustainable coexistence and progress of the artificially made civilization and natural evolution.

Chen Sheng-Wen_ 𝙀𝙧𝙮𝙩𝙝𝙧𝙤𝙜𝙚𝙣𝙮𝙨 𝙚𝙧𝙮𝙩𝙝𝙧𝙤𝙘𝙣𝙚𝙢𝙞𝙨𝙝𝙚𝙡𝙡𝙤_ Embroidery threads、frame、clothes、rusted iron_Φ30.5cm_2022

Whether they are Y2K’s or Caroline Rothwell’s works, they highlight the concept of evolutionary cybernetic, a new field of exploration that attempts to symbiotically combine technology and evolution, civilization and nature. The Artificial, Evolution and Sustainable Future exhibition and symposium attempt to show how art creation and art exhibitions in the Anthropocene epoch can imagine the possibilities of the future, and to declare that the explorative efforts and creating thinking the art circle will undertake with regards to the future development of nature and civilization.