Monday 19 April 2021 - 7:16:23 am

NYUAD Art Gallery virtual show explores artistic expression through technology in COVID-19 world


ABU DHABI, 9th December, 2020 (WAM) -- The NYU Abu Dhabi, NYUAD, Art Gallery will soon launch its first-ever virtual exhibition, titled not in, of, along, or relating to a line. The exhibition invites a new perspective on virtual and screen-based contemporary art, of particular relevance during COVID-19.

Opening on Wednesday, January 20, 2021, this exhibition of "born digital" work includes a selection of new commissions and existing pieces by nine artists, all of whom employ technology for self-expression, making visible both the restrictions and the freedoms that a digital landscape offers. These nine artists explore how identities and histories are created, transformed, or invented. For some, technology is a means to an end: a memoir, a fictional history, an intimate view of a person’s life. Others interrogate the power relations of these same tools, from virtual gaming and ‘big data’ consumer portraits to facial recognition software. The artists appropriate technologies to narrate, alter, augment, or invent their identities and histories.

Curated for ease of viewing on a mobile device, visitors will be able to use their touchscreen to move from artwork to artwork, along a series of forking paths. The exhibition has been designed to enable each journey to be entirely unique, with no two visitors having the exact same experience. In doing so, the notion of experiential relativity threads the exhibition both in its form and in its content.

Commenting on the concept, Executive Director of The NYUAD Art Gallery, University’s Chief Curator, and co-curator of this exhibition Maya Allison said: "The line is a direct path, the most efficient route between two points. It evokes a sense of movement forward, of progress. A line can also be a boundary: in 2020 we crossed the threshold of the global pandemic, and yet, it was not one, but multiple thresholds, depending on the individual’s context, which might yield widely disparate experiences."

Allison added: "This virtual exhibition, curated specifically for mobile viewing, represents the first of its kind for The NYUAD Art Gallery and concludes a season of online events. Whilst it arrives at a time when many people report suffering from Zoom fatigue and the lingering effects of pandemic isolation, the smartphone persists as a site of diversion, escape, and the meaningful pleasure of discovery."

NYUAD Visiting Assistant Professor, transdisciplinary artist, and exhibition co-curator Heather Dewey-Hagborg added: "Already, pre-pandemic, the smartphone was an extension of our bodies. We are all already cyborgs, existing simultaneously on multiple planes through these technologies that extend our bodies into the virtual world. Wittingly or not, humans have embarked on a journey of self-modification through technology."

Each artist in this exhibition takes as their subject this matter of agency, self-determination, and technology’s promise of liberation or threat of suffocation.

The show explores a new way of experiencing digitally-born artwork in a unique virtual setting, and using an innovative curatorial approach. The exhibition stands in contrast to the early pandemic move to generate 3D rendered gallery spaces as a digital expression of the pre-pandemic physicality of galleries. The NYUAD Art Gallery’s latest work serves as a meditation on the fact that, increasingly, we hold our mobile phone screens, and by extension, the virtual world, in the palm of our hands.

WAM/Tariq alfaham/Hatem Mohamed