Nxt Museum’s seasonally rotating exhibition series showcases the work of artists who use emerging technologies to create art merging the worlds of art and research.
In the inaugural Realtime exhibition, titled ‘Lilypads: Mediating Exponential Systems’ three digital artists present a vision of rapidly developing technologies as an ally in co-creating sustainable futures. Realtime offers a fresh curation approach that moves away from closed off, elite centres of knowledge, and instead embraces multiple perspectives and collective wisdom. In a period marked by the emergence of technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computing, Web3 and the pursuit of decentralisation, Realtime investigates co-creation with human and non-human modes of intelligence to foster equitable futures.
Exhibiting in real time
The concept behind Realtime lies in the subjective nature of the words “real” and “time.” Our perception of and the passage of are intrinsically linked to our perspectives. The Realtime exhibition aims to create an open-minded space for visitors to explore big open questions about our humanity, technology and our planet’s ecology.
“Harnessing the intersection of art, tech and scientific research to develop new knowledge was central to how the exhibition came together,” says Realtime curator, Jesse Damiani, “There’s a tendency to view artists, primarily for their aesthetic function, and of course, art is an incredible way to experience amazing aesthetics. But there are also ways that artists can surface new ideas in ways that might not be readily apparent.”
Nxt Museum’s mission to challenge assumptions and showcase what lies ahead, recognised that capturing pivotal moments in digital culture as they happen called for a new approach to curation. It became clear that this involved opening up the curatorial conversation to diverse voices from varied fields: each Realtime season onboards an arts curator, as well as an academic or ‘scholar-in-residence’ responsible for guiding the research of the exhibition. Jesse continues, “Realtime is predicated on collaboration. So from the very beginning, we really wanted to create a space where curators, artists, and academic scholars gathered together to poke and prod at a given set of ideas to surface collective wisdom.” He elaborates that fellow Nxt Museum curator, Bogomir Doringer described the process as ‘becoming experts together’. This collaborative approach allows for the collective observation of technology’s rapid evolution as it unfolds in real-time.
Realtime showcases three pioneering digital artworks which delve into the impact of emerging technologies on our lives and the environment. The artists working at this intersection of art and research were consciously selected for their trailblazing experiments in this regard. Charlotte Kent, Realtime Scholar-in-Residence says, “One of the things that’s changed for us today is the way in which incredibly wealthy patrons with important political touchstones are no longer the only people driving what art we see. And so we have the opportunity now to actually see artworks putting into question political forces that want us to see landscapes in a certain way. That was a really important part of the set of works that we selected for ‘Lilypads‘,we knew we wanted to have artists thinking about environmental issues.”
Jesse elaborates, “These are people who are deeply engaging with subject matter that is highly complex. So (with artist Libby Heaney) you take the question of – can quantum computing help us to think like the climate? We’re in a moment where we’re realising that the earth is full of different intelligences that might be critical for us to understand as we face the challenges of climate change. Perhaps these new technologies, like quantum computing, could help us learn to understand the natural world in ways that we haven’t bothered to in the past. So that’s one way in which an artist is intervening in the inherited status quo and our relationship with technologies.”
Future Forward Artworks
Realtime comprises three unique artworks:
Q is for Climate, Libby Heaney
Libby Heaney, a quantum physicist turned artist, combines quantum computing and art to create digital installations and live performances. Her unique storytelling in the artwork, ‘Q is For Climate’, blurs the boundaries between fact and fiction, exploring our interconnectedness with technology, the environment, and each other.
Decohering Delineation by Entangled Others Studio with Robert M. Thomas
Entangled Others Studio, consisting of Sofia Crespo and Feileacan McCormick, celebrates the interconnectedness of humanity, technology, and the natural world. Their collaborative work, ‘Decohering Delineation’ in collaboration with composer Robert M. Thomas, challenges our perception of ecosystems and invites viewers to recognise the unseen elements that entangle us with the world.
Midnight & To Body by Amelia Winger-Bearskin
Amelia Winger-Bearskin, a multimedia artist and AI professor, merges technology with intergenerational storytelling to create positive impacts on communities and the environment. Her work, ‘Midnight & To Body,‘ explores communication networks and the preservation of ethical practices across generations.
In this transformative era of technological advancements, climate change, and heightened collective awareness, the urgency to unite and collaborate has never been more critical. Recognising the power of our differences, we must harness diverse intelligences from across the globe to shape sustainable futures that accommodate all life forms, including artificial ones. Our technologies, as tools, possess the potential to either aid or impede progress on our planet. The vision of Web3, the next iteration of the internet, strives for shared ownership and decentralised power, challenging exploitative monopolies. Quantum computers, the next frontier in computing, enable multidimensional thinking and imagination far beyond human capacity. Additionally, the rise of artificial intelligence applications present new opportunities for collaboration.
Technologies develop alongside human nature, and one of the fundamental questions in setting up this Realtime exhibition was whether technologies can be viewed as ecologies, or eco-systems. Inviting the public to contribute to usually behind-closed-doors developments, Nxt Museum facilitated a series of open discussions through Twitter Spaces, welcoming diverse voices to strengthen curatorial thought processes. Scholar-in-residence Charlotte Kent emphasises the significance of external feedback, “It’s easy when you’re thinking about an idea to have it become closed… doing the Twitter Spaces was a really important step for us to kind of posit a very broad idea, like ‘technology as ecology’, and then invite artists and thinkers to contribute to the conversation.”
Better Luck Next time
Realtime encourages co-creation across diverse perspectives in lieu of decentralised futures. Through the visionary works of artists such as Libby Heaney, Entangled Others Studio, and Amelia Winger-Bearskin, the exhibition showcases alternative pathways for surfacing new knowledge through human collaboration with new technologies. In this way there’s the possibility to ensure equitable representation in the landscapes to come. Tech presents an opportunity to wield the tools at hand to affect our collective fate, moving away from the corrupted systems that exclude and isolate many to serve but a few – regardless of the lessons of the past and red flags of the future. This moment in time represents a chance to turn a tide, to re-code the script, and together co-engineer better luck next time.
Visit Realtime and expand your understanding of the future we share.