Setting the Pace

Art | Mar 2016 | BY Brook S. Mason

Video art may seem cutting-edge compared to wielding a paintbrush, but there’s a new horizon when it comes to innovative technology. And Pace Gallery—with a string of locations in New York, London and Beijing, exhibition spaces in Hong Kong, Paris and Menlo Park, California, and a roster of artists such as Maya Lin, Tara Donovan, Robert Ryman and Hiroshi Sugimoto—just ratcheted up the stakes by founding a new program fusing art and technology. “Since the late ’60s, Pace has always taken an interest in art and technology,” says Pace president Marc Glimcher. “From our early work with James Turrell and Robert Whitman through our recent projects with teamLab, we are always looking for ways to support experimentation by artists. After establishing a base in Menlo Park it became clear that this would be an ideal venue in which to examine the new approach of the emerging art and technology collectives and how to best share their work with the public.”

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teamLAB’s Crystal Universe, 2015

Who’s leading their Pace Art + Technology program? Seventeen-year gallery veteran Liz Sullivan, who launched pivotal exhibitions devoted to Tara Donovan and Alexander Calder in Pace’s pop-up in Menlo Park. Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, Pace’s space alone could not be more ahead of the curve: It’s a staggering 20,000 square feet and happens to be the former Tesla dealership.

For their inaugural exhibition, which opened on February 6, Pace Art + Technology called on the celebrated Tokyo collective teamLab, who most recently draped the Grand Palais exterior with a mesmerizing projection. Now the latest endeavors of this group—made up of some 400 digital artists and engineers—can be explored in the exhibition “Living Digital Space and Future Parks.”

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teamLAB’s Black Waves in Infinity, 2016

Of the 20 individual innovative interactive works, Crystal Universe, which falls into the realm of intergalactic, may be the most incredible. The viewer enters a space in which some 50,000 LED lights suspended from the ceiling create a seemingly infinite number of particles of light. As one moves throughout this immersive installation, the light, palette and patterns change from droplets of glistening blue to streams of neon green and magenta. “But the viewer is always the center of the universe,” points out Sullivan. A sound element adds a further sense of wonder.

Another interactive feature of the Crystal Universe: Viewers can select a veritable host of galaxies and then inject those elements into their own “universe,” all via a mere swipe of their smartphone.

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teamLAB’s Crystal Universe, 2015

And catering to all ages, the exhibit includes a total of eight works specifically designed for children, such as Sketchtown Aquarium, where kids as young as three can color prepared drawings of marine life. Their work is then scanned, animated and projected onto the walls, “so their very colorings of the figures become animated,” explains Sullivan.

Coming up in the fall, Pace will highlight the London-based Random International, whose current sensation Rain Room—a singular installation in which viewers literally walk through a downpour but never get drenched, not even by a single drop of water—took the art world by storm when it debuted stateside at MoMA. Now that acclaimed work is on view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where it continues to attract swelling crowds.

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teamLAB’s Cold Life, 2015

“Unlike paintings and sculpture, what’s on display now is totally immersive and evolving as well as participatory, proving that teamLab is at the forefront of this generation’s artistry,” Sullivan says. And Random International’s upcoming work is certain to prove once again that Pace blazes new trails in the high-octane art world.

 

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