The American Visionary Art Museum's 19th original thematic exhibition is a timely and playful examination of the serious impact of technology on our lives, as seen through the eyes of 40+ visionary artists, cutting edge futurists, and inventors. Pleasing to an audience of Nobel Prize winners and schoolchildren alike, this show asks, "Two billion personal computers later, post DNA-sequencing, are we on the road to becoming a better, healthier, happier, less warlike, human race?"
AVAM's newest exhibition takes on its most complex subject yet: examining the rapid and ever-increasing impact of artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, genetics, 3D printing and Big Data on nearly every aspect of human life. This thought-provoking exhibit investigates technology's influence on issues of privacy and surveillance, employment and manufacturing, longevity and health, defense and warfare, farming and food, access to global and personal information, creative invention, and entertainment. This is high stakes, new territory never before negotiated by any prior civilization. Kevin Kelly, co-founder of Wired Magazine, well-defined the unprecedented nature of our times: "Singularity is the point at which all the change in the last million years will be superseded by the change in the next five minutes."
Curated by AVAM founder and director Rebecca Alban Hoffberger, this stirring show harnesses the enchanting visual delights of remarkable visionary artists and their masterworks. A few of those artists are discussed here:
Rebecca Hoffberger discusses cyborg artist Neil Harbisson's Eyeborg device
Neil Harbisson is a Catalan artist, composer and cyborg activist best known for his ability to hear colors and to perceive colors outside the ability of human vision.
Neil was born with achromatopsia, a condition that only allowed him to see in grayscale. In 2003, he took part in the development of the eyeborg, a cybernetic eye permanently attached to his head that allows him to hear the frequencies of colors through bone conduction (including infrared and ultraviolet). Harbisson started to feel like a cyborg, a union between his organism and cybernetics, when he started to hear colors in his dreams. Since then, he creates “sonochromatic” artworks and performances that explore the relationship between color and sound, and the relationship between bodies and cybernetics. In 2010, he co-founded the Cyborg Foundation with Moon Ribas, an international organization that aims to help people become cyborgs, defend cyborg rights, and promote cyborgism as an artistic and social movement. (Neil Harbisson bio courtesy the Cyborg Foundation, http://eyeborg.wix.com/cyborg)
Kenny Irwin, Jr
Kenny Irwin Jr brought a special installation from his Robo-Lights display, glowing inside of a central black box theater at the heart of this exhibition. Kenny is an incredibly creative artist who has a two acre art park located at this home in Palm Springs, California where his father owns a spa and resort.
At the age of thirteen, Kenny began his ornate and imaginative RoboLights installation. In its first year, the installation featured fifteen thousand lights and has now grown to well over six million and draws visitors from all over the world. Some of the sculptures include over two hundred robots and - some as large as 68 feet tall and weighing in at over 54 tons.
Sculpture for the Conan O'Brien Show by Kenny Irwin, Jr
In 2010, Kenny was asked to create original sculptures for the 'Conan O'Brien Show'.
His sister Carol explained that Kenny has been able to remember his dreams since birth and they have inspired many of his sculptures and drawings. His dreams are always about other forms of life, ultra-advanced technology and tell a coherent story from beginning to end.
O.L. Samuels "Godzilla"
O.L. Samuels works mainly with found wood, such as tree trunks, roots, and old wood furniture, which he will carve for months at a time. Samuels is color blind yet paints several layers of wild, expressive colors 'using every color so he doesn't leave any out.' He is known for his imaginative images, featuring dreamlike figures, and mythical creatures, each with a story about its existence.
His work often has a spiritual message. Samuels became a lay minister later in life. He is considered one of the most talented self-taught artists in America by museums across the country.
His 7' tall 'Godzilla', a creation first imagined in response to the devastating use of the A-bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, greats visitors on the second level of the exhibit.
Allen Christian began crafting art in the first grade. He continues today making singular works of art fashioned out of everyday objects, from bowling balls to badminton birdies. Christian says he 'discovered the essence of humanity through four objects, through inanimate objects that are cast-offs...I try and give these inanimate objects a new lease on life, to imbue them with emotion.'
'Piano Family' representing 'String Theory' by Allen Christian
Allen displayed two collections - the life-sized 'Piano Family' representing 'String Theory' (made from spare piano parts) shown above and a robot made from various 'trashed' parts as shown on the right.
Alex Grey, Gaia from 1989 (oil on linen) as presented by Rebecca Hoffberger
Alex Grey began his investigation into the nature of consciousness in the 1970's through Tibetan Buddhism and the study of the human body. While employed at a medical school morgue led to a unique series of artworks entitled
Alex Grey, The Sacred Mirrors
"The Sacred Mirrors" which portray an 'x-ray' of multiple dimensions of reality, interweaving physical and biologic anatomy with psychic and spiritual energies.
Watch Chris create 'Masturbox' as discussed above.