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[Herald Interview] Guggenheim Museum makes a push for technology-based art with LG

By Park Yuna

Published : April 26, 2024 - 18:42

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Noam Segal, LG Electronics associate curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (Courtesy of Guggenheim Museum) Noam Segal, LG Electronics associate curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (Courtesy of Guggenheim Museum)

As technology continues to evolve, art also expands its horizon with artists exploring technology-based art. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s LG Guggenheim Art and Technology Initiative launched last year aims to support such pioneering artists.

Noam Segal, an LG Electronics associate curator, considers pioneering artists to be those who inspire understandings of how technology shapes and is shaped by society. Segal joined the museum to helm the five-year initiative with Korean conglomerate LG, which includes the annual LG Guggenheim Award.

“The artworks eventually enrich and deepen our encounter with technologies by showing the technology's different faces and facets. Through art, we can see things we cannot see in any other way," Segal said in a recent interview with The Korea Herald.

“Our role is to support the artist in expressing their ideas in the best way possible, and to support our audiences in the reception, cohesion, and contextualization of these works,” she said.

She praised the global collaboration with LG as an “unprecedented investment in technology as an artistic medium.”

“(The partnership) is expected to usher in a new wave of digital creativity combining cutting-edge solutions from LG Electronics and LG Display with the unmatched artistic sensibilities of the Guggenheim,” she said.

Known as one of the leading museums to commission net art works in the 1990s, Guggenheim’s collection includes a number of historical pieces of digital art as well as technology-based art focusing robotics, AR, VR, large language models and different new media applications.

In March, the LG Guggenheim Award, which aims to recognize artists or their groundbreaking achievements in technology-based art, was given to Taiwanese American artist Shu Lea Cheang, a pioneer of net art who explored emerging technologies such as code, gaming engines and hacking strategies for more than 30 years.

Last year's inaugural award went to American artist Stephanie Dinkins.

80-minute video work 80-minute video work "UKI" by Shu Lea Cheang (Courtesy of the artist)

“Shu Lea Cheang is a true pioneer of technology-based art,” Segal said. “She engaged almost every new technology as it became publicly available. Cheang shed light not only on the newest applications of various technologies, but also on the effects they may have on our environment, social formations, subjectivities and human relationships.

“Her work is special because of her extraordinary use and experimentation with technology as a medium and, even more so, because of how brilliantly she connects these urgent questions in society to her practice,” she said.

As part of LG the Guggenheim Art and Technology Initiative, the museum celebrated American multimedia artist Rachel Rossin’s collaboration for the Young Collector’s Council Party, which was presented by LG Display. Rossin transformed the Guggenheim’s rotunda with works in LG Transparent OLED displays, combining hybrid creations.

The YCC Party and the award ceremony for Cheang both took place on April 2.

From left: Rachel Rossin, Shu Lea Cheang, Noam Segal and Chris Jung, CEO of LG Electronics North America, pose for a photo at YCC Party on April 2 at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. (Courtesy of Guggenheim, LG) From left: Rachel Rossin, Shu Lea Cheang, Noam Segal and Chris Jung, CEO of LG Electronics North America, pose for a photo at YCC Party on April 2 at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. (Courtesy of Guggenheim, LG)

When asked about the perception that technology-based art might be difficult to approach or absorb compared to conventional art such as paintings, Segal said technology-based art is not any different from other mediums.

“Advanced technologies are another medium of artistic investigation, and we are committed to deepening our engagement and research with this uncharted territory,” she said. “To me, good curation will make our audiences knowledgeable about those technologies, it will demystify and cohere different questions about the technology and, at the same time, insist on the singularity of each artistic act.”

For the next few years, Segal said the museum will focus on cultivating “legibility around advanced technologies” by holding talks and panels by artists and experts in those fields as well as public programs that further expand and diversify the applications of advanced systems.

“We are also working toward a technology-based art presentation in the museum,” Segal added.

On May 2, Segal will lead a performance-lecture with Cheang at the museum titled “What the Heck: Shu Lea Cheang on Hacking Tactics, Virus Becoming and Geek Farming.”

The artist will delve into themes of biotechnology, networked societies and multiple forms of harvesting, drawing inspiration from her deep-rooted passions for science fiction, queer aesthetics and community building.