Beijing exhibition presents past, present and future of computing art
Shen Li

Computing art is gaining recognition as another medium of artistic expression. When did it begin? How is it being expressed? And how far will it go? You may find the answers in this special exhibition entitled, "Immaterial/Re-material: A Brief History of Computing Art" at the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art.

The past, present and future of computing art. 

This group exhibition at Beijing's UCCA has gathered more than 70 pieces by more than 30 artists from around the world, from pioneers of the 1960s to today's emerging voices. 

"The exhibition at UCCA is by far the largest exhibition dedicated to digital art so far, and I'm very proud that we present four generations of digital artists, of artists who invented new forms and new images to express a new vision of the world," Jerome Neutres, the curator, said in a prerecorded video at the opening.

The title "Immaterial/Re-Material" pays tribute to Jean-François Lyotard's groundbreaking 1985 exhibition "Les Immatériaux," which conceived a new mode of art that reflected the decade's advances in telecommunications technology. 

By exploring the broad possibilities of computing art and the philosophies underpinning it, the exhibition aims to present the medium not just as a new media form but an entire artistic language.

Interactive installations and AI learning is a recurring theme for participating artists.

In this "Eye Calligraphy Project," artist Michel Paysant paints with his eyes using his eye tracker connected to an industrial robot equipped with a calligraphy brush. 

Miguel Chevalier's "Supernova" on display. / UCCA

Miguel Chevalier's "Supernova" on display. / UCCA

The force of thought and interior design help to realize the "digital calligraphies" of a new generation. 

Amid the global pandemic, artists believe that exploring computing art is a fitting topic, as technology has more closely connected us.

"What interests me most is taking this thing that exists in the digital world and bringing it into reality and presenting it as something that viewers can observe many different angles. So, it's not about imagery. It is not about text; it's really about something deeper that we respond to," said Leo Villareal, one of the participating artists.

"I think that's what we need right now in the world, things that bind us together, things that we can all connect to. So, that's where my work comes from, and I hope that it can help to dissolve some of these boundaries and some of the divisions we're experiencing in the world today."

The exhibition runs until January 17, 2021.