Artists love to portray technology as the villain, as a force for evil that makes short work of our humanity. (Call it the Hal Effect.) Matt Pyke isn’t one of them. The artist — who, it should be noted, works out of a log cabin in Sheffield, England — is an unabashed techno-optimist. As the 12 pieces in his latest exhibit show, from a morphing monster projected on the wall to dancers whose bodies float off into pixely abstraction in a powerful wind tunnel (below), technology and people can walk happily hand in hand.
Everything in the show is alive — or at least seems to be.
Pyke runs Universal Everything, a digital design company, which splits its time between commercial work for the likes of AOL, Nokia, and Esquire, and fine art. His new exhibit Super-Computer-Romantics was mounted in collaboration with a litany of design- and art-world friends (including the superbly talented duo Field) and stretches over multiple floors of La Gaîté Lyrique, the vaulting new digital arts funhouse in Paris that we reported on back in March.
The exhibit bears little resemble to a formal art show, with pricey canvases meticulously spaced on prim white walls. Instead, it’s a series of mini, audio-visual universes, each custom-designed for La Gaîté Lyrique and each as mind-blowing as the next. Meandering from one space to another, you might encounter: a clutch of 3-D printed doodads on legs, grown from code and vaguely resembling robotic baby chickens; a projection of primitive, digital icons that cover all four sides of a church-like room and dance endlessly to tribal music (above); an LED strip on the floor that runs a constant stream of factoids (“in this second, 34,000 [people are having] orgasms”); and a projection of a hulking monster, who marches along purposefully, transforming from an orange woolly mammoth creature to a dead ringer for the abominable snowman to what looks like a human-shaped bubblegum ball machine. Take a look:
Note that everything in the show is alive — or at least seems to be. Which is the idea: “I?m interested in the potential of technology and its playful aspects, rather than the usual uses in art: dytopia, CCTV and so on,” Pyke tells Co.Design. “We tried to inject humanity into the art work. What we’ve done is a way of bringing technology to life.”
And a way of flaunting some impressive digital pyrotechnics — Pyke designed the morphing monster with CGI whizzes Realise Studio, using techniques they previously deployed on an MTV spot — though Pkye insists that’s not the real point here. “It’s not technology showing off,” he says. “Technology is just the paintbrush we use. The key thing is that this is life-affirming, and says, ?Isn’t the future beautiful??” In a furry, orange monster kind of way.
The exhibit is on view through May 27.
[Images and videos courtesy of Universal Everything]