History of the Future

History of the Future

A group exhibition of art and technology

Saturday, May 26 to Sunday, July 1

Opening Friday May 25, 6 to 8pm

Jenny E. Balisle, Tyler Bohm, Sara Bonaventura, Keaton Fox, Bob Kephart, Pat Lay, Bang T. Luu, Nick Montfort, Hye Yeon Nam, Molly O’Donnell, Lalie S. Pascual, Daniel Alexander Smith, Yao Wang, Jeffu Warmouth, Jody Zellen


This exhibition is the result of an open call for work that pairs art and technology in a thought provoking and visually engaging manner. History of the Future features fifteen artists hailing from as far away as Singapore and Switzerland, as well as local Bostonians and places in-between. Many of the works incorporate historical and cultural references into the medium and message of their technologically savvy contemporary artworks.

Exhibition attendees will encounter the familiar sound of Pachelbel’s Canon in D in Bob Kephart‘s Dueling Canons. This sculpture consisting of motor driven music box mechanisms and utilizes musical rounds to juxtapose the conventional idea of a canon with interrupting musical voices, which result in a chaotic sound. Viewers will glimpse historic paintings in Keaton Fox‘s The Green Screen Paintings which use modern technology to examine how far humans have progressed – as artists and as a species. Inspired by Bruegel the Elder’s medieval painting of the blind leading the blind, Daniel Alexander Smith‘s Beacon projects the light of an unseeing eye, digitally reconstructed as a ghosted hologram on a paper-thin scaffold. The sculpture explores blindness as an allegory for the relationship between technology and culture. Nick Montfort‘s Autofolio Babel, is a computational book art work incorporating a computer program that is based on Jorge Luis Borges’s description of the pages in the immense but not infinite Library of Babel.

Sara Bonaventura taps into seemingly recent, but already outdated technologies using analog synths and a wobbulator to process her video Stakra, a mystical and hallucinatory journey of a resilient subject, not yet completely seduced by the machines. In Pat Lay‘s Collages, 54AAA0254 and B53K477-2, the traditional scroll format is used to give the works the presence of a thangka, an object for contemplation. Digital images scanned from computer circuit boards are printed on Japanese kozo paper and then collaged into patterns that transform them into a new matrix. Jenny E. Balisle‘s OPTIC 2 video visualizes how information traverses through fiber-optic cables on the ocean’s floors. Lalie S. Pascual‘s Seasons Of Time is a mix of video with digital media. Using shape algorithms and random scripts, the fragmented imagery, is recomposed, into an ambivalent video-moving-image mix which is in a constant state of regeneration. The final artwork suggests a world where the macro meets the micro, and the past meets the present and the futuristic.

Many of the works explore the current social political landscape continuing a long history of artists engaging with contemporary culture. Jody Zellen‘s News Wheel is an iOS app that explores the poetics of ever changing news headlines. This playful interface invites users to start and stop the wheel eventually filling the screen with a collage of current headlines. Tyler Bohm‘s Generative Model UN is a set of flags designed by a deep convolutional generative adversarial network (GAN), which has been trained on a custom data set of thousands of flag images. The physical flags are arranged in the shape of a computer power symbol. Hye Yeon Nam‘s Invisible uses a computational system to evoke understanding and a discussion of current racial stereotype issues. The sculpture prints sentences that include derogatory racial terms, and then a robotic arm cuts and throws the papers away on the ground. Amongst the piles of hurtful messages, one can find examples that seek to educate the readers to the injured feelings and sensitivities of the races. Molly O’Donnell‘s video series Mediate Me reflects our interactions with our smartphones that have begun to question the politics of image, objectification, and our representation on the Internet.

Some of the artworks incorporate nuanced user interaction. Yao Wang‘s Unraveled is an immersive 360˚ virtual reality experience where the listener finds themselves at the center of all elements, being surrounded by choir, strings, synths and imagery. The interactive nature of spatial audio makes the experience authentically personalized. Jeffu Warmouth‘s Lilliput, is an interactive video installation much like a video mirror, but in which small people fall out of the sky and land on the viewer’s arms head and shoulders. They can be held and played with or helped to continue on their way down. Bang T. Luu‘s sculptures, Input | Output were created using mathematical algorithms extracted from audio recordings of sleep participants and their environments, to generate three-dimensional objects.

The works in History of the Future beckon viewers to reflect on the integral role of art in playing with and navigating the constantly evolving use of technology. Boston Cyberarts recent open call received such a plethora of strong submissions that we could not fit it all in one exhibition. As counterpart to the exhibition opening this month, a second exhibition titled Future of History will take place in the gallery in the Fall of 2018.

Click here for short bios about all of the artists.