Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)
30 Jun 2016 to 04 Sep 2016
Rebecca Baumann, Ian Burns, Hayden Fowler, Siyon Jin, Airan Kang, Sanghyun Lee, Soyo Lee, Wade Marynowsky, Moon Kyungwon & Jeon Jooho, Patricia Piccinini & Peter Hennessey, Kibong Rhee, Justin Shoulder, Giselle Stanborough, Stelarc & Nina Sellars, Wonbing Yang
Anna Davis & Houngcheol Choi
New Romance: art and the posthuman brought together artists from Australia and Korea whose works encouraged us to ask what it means to be human, and what it might mean in the future. Drawing inspiration from science fiction, robotics, biotechnology, consumer products and social media, they offered experiences that raised questions around the idea of the posthuman; a concept that signals new understandings of humanity and a breakdown of boundaries between what we think of as natural and artificial.
Born across five decades, from the 1940s to the 1980s, the artists employed an eclectic array of technologies in their works. These technologies ranged from the highly specialised to the mass-produced and were used to create everything from crossbred cacti and LED books to dancing robots and a pneumatically powered blender mixing human biomaterials. The thread that linked these diverse artworks was an exploration of new kinds of encounters, not only among technologically connected humans but also between so-called ‘intelligent’ objects, plants, animals and all manner of hybrid entities.
The artists also reflected on issues such as hyper-consumerism and alternative futures; inviting us to consider how our relationship with the natural world is changing, through our increased ability to alter our environment and through the threat of ecological apocalypse. Several of the artists took on the role of inventor or even mad scientist; experimenting with living organisms, building strange machines and constructing artificial worlds. Some investigated how our emotions are triggered when interacting with kinetic objects, while others tried to see the world from a nonhuman perspective.
These curious and inventive works made visitors wonder what the future might hold.
Over the opening weekend of the exhibition, 30 June – 3 July 2016, The Festival of New Romance marked the commencement of New Romance: art and the posthuman with a mix of events, talks, performances and workshops that aimed to celebrate Korean culture and showcase the contemporary art practices on show in the exhibition.