Lux: New Wave of Contemporary Art review
Time Out says
Deep beneath the street, the machines have taken over. Because 180 The Strand is back again with a labyrinthine, overwhelming, immersive, dizzying group show of computer generated installations to totally lose yourself in.
This time they’re collaborating with Korean curatorial body SUUM to pull together a show about light, AI, the environment and perception, deep in the basement of this former office block.
You enter through Es Devlin’s long pink oesophagial tunnel, before being spat out into a maze of rooms draped in red curtains and light.
The best works here play with the limits of CGI and AI technology. Universal Everything’s video shows a giant figure stomping endlessly, constantly morphing through various states, turning from fur to rock to liquid to fire. Cao Yuxi’s curved screens swoop and spin with patterns created by an AI trained on millions of images of calligraphy, the human hand slurring into digital gestures. Hito Steyerl uses a neural network to predict plant growth: images, literally, from the future. Random International create a flock of algorithmic geometric figures. And upstairs, you can bathe in digital waves by a’strict.
All these works make sense together, they’re art that pushes and manipulates technology to create intense, enveloping visual experiences. Even when it all looks a bit like a Dubai mall, or feels like it's not about very much, you still get that this is about programming being used to extreme visual ends. The art is the tech, that’s the point
But some pieces here are a little more incongruous, like Julianknxx’s moving installation of a black choir singing the worth ‘breathe’, or Je Baak’s video of spinning fairground rides, or Es Devlin’s fleshy tunnel. There’s nothing wrong with them, but it’s hard to figure out how they fit in with the rest of the art here.
So it’s a bit of a mess, but a messy 180 show is still better than most other video art exhibitions around. Their signature approach to showing new media art has such a distinct feel that it’s almost become its own genre. And if you’re going to get stuck in a terrifying nightmare basement, it might as well be one filled with good video art.