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Insight: Lumen Prize 2020, welcome to the metaverse

Text by CLOT Magazine

Nuestra Victoria, Julieta Gil (2020)

The Lumen Prize is a global contest that celebrates art created with technology. Launched in 2012, Lumen is run by Lumen Art Projects, a not-for-profit based in Wales (UK) that curates, exhibitions, commissions and events for art venues, cultural institutions and public spaces globally in partnership with its community of Lumen artists. Lumen Price as awarded artists such as Refik Anadol, Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Christina Agapakis/Ginkgo Bioworks & Sissel Tolaas, Mario Klingeman, Thijs Biersteker and Matteo Zamagni, all probably well known by our readers.

In previous years, the Lumen Prize would showcase the awarded works in physical exhibitions but this time, this has turned into a virtual exhibition instead emphasizing the use of technology in meaningful and enriching ways.

This year, the nine Lumen Prize 2020 award winners are presented in partnership with Leonardo/The International Society for the Arts Sciences and Technology (Leonardo/ISAST) and New Art City, a multi-viewer, co-present platform that will provide a 3D experience in a virtual space. Along with cultural and historical context from Leonardo’s publications, the audience has the opportunity to engage, interact and dive deeper into the digital artworks in a native digital world.

This bespoke environment has been developed by DC Spensley and Gustavo Rincon on the New Art City platform, as mentioned, created in partnership with Leonardo/IAST. In an article published on the Lumen webpage, Anastasia Pineschi, Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Digital Art, shares that the environment is a modelled 3D space that allows visitors to digitally walk across platforms and through portals to see the winning Lumen artworks in their own dedicated pavilions.

DC and Gustavo have engineered the layout itself to ensure that the artworks remain the stars of the show: the navigation is intuitive, the exhibition design is neutral but engaging, and the quarantine-like isolation of each artwork nudges the viewer to focus their attention solely on one work at a time. 

The works in the current awards include photography, 3D renderings, expanded digital environments and play with different narratives and storytelling. The topics addressed by the artists in this work are varied, relevant to current times and challenge a reflection in the viewer. Among the winners, a couple of artists featured in CLOT previously: Julieta Gil, Søren Krag, Liliana Farber, Tupac Martir & Satore Studio, Elyne Legarnisson, Casey Reas & Jan St. Werner, Richard Vijgen, Christian Mio Loclair and Liu Wa.

Citing Pineshi once more, we see how we keep adapting against the current challenges and making something positive out it: Perhaps there has never been a better time to celebrate the possibilities of technology than in this year of upheaval. When employed with curiosity and sensitivity to their greater cultural implications, technological tools can enrich conversations and bridge impossible distances between locations, experiences, and points of view.

Tomorrow 14 January 2021, Lumen is hosting a tour of the Lumen Winners Virtual Exhibition and a conversation with the Directors of Lumen Art Projects (Carla Rapoport) and Leonardo/ISAST (Diana Ayton) that will address how does the intersection of art, science and technology drive social change positive change?

In this discussion, they will cover the impact of humanizing technology through digital art. What impact do virtual exhibitions that provide a global context for technology, society and humanity have in a new art world?

Following the conversation, a tour will be provided by exhibition producers DC Spensley and Gustavo Rincon in curation with Lumen Director Jack Addis and Leonardo/ISAST Creative Director Danielle Siembieda.

(Image courtesy of Lumen and Leonardo/ISAST)

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