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NEW PERSPECTIVES ON THE NATURE OF ART

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The Garden

D’strict: The D’construction of Art

Or maybe just evolution.


Slide D'STRICT
WHAT IS ART?
EXPLORE

At the beginning of the global coronavirus pandemic, all eyes turned to Seoul, South Korea. Not just, as you might expect, for the city’s admirable containment of the new plague, but rather for a massive simulated wave image in a skyscraper.

If that doesn’t sound impressive, you should understand that the wave didn’t look like a mere oversized poster projected across the façade. Instead, the wave appeared to be moving back and forth forcefully within the building itself, as if several stories of architectural engineering had transformed into the world’s largest fish tank.

IS THIS ART?
CONTINUE

The conundrum dates back to the dawn of culture in the most primordial sense.

Interestingly, it’s not a dilemma that D’strict, the South Korean company that created the project, might be overly concerned with. The firm categorizes its work as design for entertainment and user experiences informed by both art and technology, a classification that feels more at home in the business-savvy branding of Silicon Valley than the galleries of a contemporary museum.

Indeed, the designers of D’strict have created interactive pieces for malls and theme parks. They created a robot arm to craft artisanal coffee drinks and dessert, a concept that borders so close to satire it feels like a twisted Banksy prank.

Another installation piece invited visitors to the SLS Hotel in Las Vegas to project their own face onto a monolithic screen, interacting with fantastical nature images.

On the one hand, the idea of inspirational art existing in a Vegas luxury hotel feels a tad grotesque, if not downright dirty.

Yet Mark Rothko designed brilliant murals for an elite restaurant in the Seagram Building.

(They're now in the Tate Museum in London.)

Diego Rivera painted a provocative mural in Rockefeller Center.

(Granted, the Rockefellers rejected it.)

Let's not get started on
Takashi Murakami

So maybe it’s not the capitalistic branding that makes us question whether this is art...

The company collaborated with the ice cream chain Baskin Robbins to create a digital wall that let passengers in Incheon airport enjoy a kind of sophisticated video game update of whack-a-mole. Art can exist alongside 31 flavors...but can we also play with our culture?

Certainly, the Vatican was the biggest corporate chain of its day.

gates_birdseye

James Turrell and Yayoi Kusama have also created innovative space pieces for “users” to experience their work. In fact, there is a major precedent for an amusement park like art experience from the last decade, the enormously popular (and quite moving) Rain Room from the German art studio team Random International that packed crowds into museums such as MOMA and LACMA.

Yet we don't think that Michelangelo intended for his audience to reach out and try to join hands with Adam and God when he painted the Sistine Chapel.

The interactive play’s the thing! Not so fast. There is a perhaps relatively recent but established tradition of interactivity in contemporary art.

The late artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude created works like the Gates in Central Park that demanded public interaction to be understood and appreciated.

The Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit in Toronto even flips this dynamic on its head: works we obviously accept as art become amusement park rides.

There are two possible solutions to the riddle.

The first is that we simply reimagine our conception of art in the broader sense of technology and culture. The breakthroughs of photography, film and video took time to acquire the status of art. It’s possible that a generation reared on video games and augmented reality will simply accept the work of D’strict and others who dabble in digital site-based user experiences and interactive technological illusions as worthy of a more elevated status.

The second option is another category for visionary works and creators who fall through the cracks. Think about fields like architecture and design, which have always existed apart from their less utilitarian cousins but nonetheless produced works of beauty. Think about individuals like Walt Disney or Jony Ive, who arguably have done more to shape the aesthetics of modern culture than Marcel Duchamp or Andy Warhol. Perhaps, in the end, a work of vision is as worthy of admiration and interpretation as a work of art.

-The Gardener

Image Credits

D’strict Official Website Public Media Art #1 “WAVE” Link

D’strict Official Website “CAFE.BOT” Link

D’strict Official Website “GWANGMYEONG CAVE THEME PARK LED MEDIA TOWER” Link

D’strict Official Website “BASKIN ROBBINS 31 MEDIA INSTALLATION” Link

D’strict Official Website “SLS HOTEL GX DESIGN” Link

D’strict Official Website “NEXEN UNIVERCITY” Link

D’strict Official Website “SAMSUNG GALAXY BRAND STUDIO INFINITY MOMENT” Link

Sistine Chapel WikiCommons Link

Marko Rothko Seagram Paintings Link

Diego Rivera Rockefeller Building Link

Takashi Murakami Cultured Mag Link

The Gates Link

LACMA Rain Room Link

Immersive Van Gogh Link


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