Innovation as a Method

22/ 05

The exhibition «Innovation as a Method» is opening in the Hermitage aimed at those who want a better understanding of innovative technologies and their interactions with contemporary art. The display, organized within the Hermitage 20/21 project, will be a part of the cultural programme for the St Petersburg Economic Forum.

The exhibition presents projects by artists who work with technological art, the Art & Science format, artificial intelligence, generative art and other current practices.

Kevin Abosch, for example, uses his own blood and a recording of the codes in a blockchain as tools. Dmitry Kawarga has constructed an object that is capable of translating a conceptual text into a palette of colours. Mish Most presents a canvas with a picture made by a drone following a sketch by the artist. An audio-visual performance by Stain gives an interpretation of the concept of discreteness, while an installation from the art group «Where the dogs run to» forces one to experience a sense of anxiety and fear of the future.

Konstantin Novoselov was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery of a new form of carbon — graphene. He is participating in the exhibition as the artist Kostya Novoselov and shows the process of scientific searching.

The exhibition will be presenting collaborations between artists and scientific laboratories for the first time. For example, as part of a joint project between Dmitry Gutov and the Russian Quantum Centre visitors will be able to imagine themselves as an ultra-cold atom within a quantum simulator, while the artist Pavel Pepperstein presents his collaboration with the KhimRar centre of high technologies.

In its time, the invention of oil-based paints opened a new chapter in the history of art. Will the use of modern innovative tools become the same sort of revolutionary turning-point?

«Ahead lie successes and defeats, expressways and winding mountain roads. But the main thing that this exhibition teaches us is that a blockchain only becomes art when its addresses are written in the blood of their creator, while graphene ink acquires particular meaning when the author has also mastered the wonder of Chinese ink,» Mikhail Piotrovsky, General Director of the State Hermitage, observed, reflecting on the interaction between innovative technologies and art.

Sergei Gorkov, chairman of Vnesheconombank, reckons that the advance of technologies is changing practically all spheres of life. «Innovations are altering economic models, the very principles of social interaction. The artists here are effectively performing the role of technological visionaries. They are ahead of their time, looking ‘over the horizon’, helping us to detect the shape of the future. A future that will change us and our country and the whole world. In this project we are reassessing the significance of traditional institutions, irrespective of whether it is a classical art museum like the Hermitage, which in its time had the courage to launch the Hermitage 20/21 projects and open itself up to ultra-contemporary art projects, or a development institution — the Vnesheconombank — that is promoting a promising technological agenda. This project at the interface of art and innovations forces us to change how we see things.»

Victoria Kondrashova, CEO of the company RDI. Creative said: «Artists are always keenly sensitive to changes in society and the world and react to them. They can ‘tame’ innovations and ‘domesticate’ technologies. Responding to the questions and challenges of the day, artists employ innovative technological approaches as a tool, a technique and an occasion for ethical reflection, creating a field for communication with the viewer. At the exhibition artists working in an innovative idiom present works that examine the connections between artistic thinking, new physical materials and technological processes.»

Dmitry Ozerkov, head of the State Hermitage’s Department of Contemporary Art and head of the Hermitage 20/21 project, stated: «The title of the exhibition derives from a programmatic article by Victor Shklovsky, ‘Art as Technique’, that was published 100 years ago. It formulated some key terms for Russian formalism —technique, defamiliarization and automatization. How has the situation in art changed over the century and what terms should we be adopting today? The exhibition is intended to ask that question.»

The exhibition curators are Dmitry Ozerkov and Victoria Kondrashova.
The organizers are the State Hermitage and RDI. Creative.
The creative partner is Vnesheconombank.
The exhibition is supported by the VEB Innovation Foundation.