Digital arts organization Rhizome has teamed up with Hyundai Motor Company to present digital art initiatives in a two-year partnership. Their first collaborative exhibition, World on a Wire, features 11 digital artworks from international artists, created using innovative digital mediums like augmented (AR), virtual (VR), and mixed reality (XR).

An affiliate-in-residence at the New Museum since 2003, Rhizome and the New York institution have collaborated on a host of projects that support the growing digital arts, including the First Look: Artists’ VR series and the NEW INC cultural incubator. The Korean automaker, too, has signified a long-term commitment to the arts, as witnessed in its ongoing alliance with the Tate Modern and its 10-year partnership with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), supporting the institution’s Art + Technology Lab and Korean Art Scholarship Initiative.

Per its curatorial statement, World on a Wire aims to recast the physical gallery space into “a hybrid-reality vivarium of vivid, artist-made synthetic life forms.” Within this mixed reality, visitors can experience works including Pete Jiadong Qiang’s interactive VR environment, ZZYW’s machine-generated 3D universe, and Theo Triantafyllidis’ AR sculptures, among others.

Rhizome x Hyundai: World on a Wire

Installation view of Pete Jiadong Qiang’s Dungeon: Maximalism HyperBody (2021) at Hyundai Motorstudio Beijing. Image: Rhizome

The exhibition, which debuted online on January 28, grants viewers more than a look at the artworks: a virtual curatorial walkthrough led by Rhizome’s artistic director, workshops on XR and artificial intelligence (AI), and artist talks can all be accessed on its official website (itself a generative work). World on a Wire also had an onsite premiere at the Hyundai Motorstudio art space in Beijing, and will continue on to tour Hyundai’s studio locations in Moscow and Seoul. 

Why it matters

Digital art takes the stage — Immersive, advanced tech — AR, VR, 3D printing — has increasingly found a place in artist’s practices, often wielded as a way to tackle contemporary issues or question the nature of modern technology itself. And in a world where even AI makes art, contemporary art museums have been eager to highlight and take part in this shift through their programming.

World on a Wire captures the spirit of the Museum of Modern Art’s New Order: Art and Technology in the 21st Century and UCCA Beijing’s Mirage: Contemporary Art in Augmented Reality — exhibitions that embrace and showcase the creative potential of XR. Such shows go some way to platforming emerging art and artists, while reaching wider, more diverse audiences, and positioning the institution on the cutting edge of new media.

Artworks at the exhibition, including Theo Triantafyllidis’ Nike (above) and ZZYW’s ThingThingThing (below), leverage advanced tech like AR and AI to explore the contemporary moment. Image:

The art and technology pair-up— While partnerships between museums and technology companies like Hyundai aren’t new, 2020 saw a proliferation of such unions as the pandemic forced the need for new, innovative strategies. Cue LACMA’s new project with Snap, The Met’s collaboration with Verizon, Cai Guo-Qiang’s partnership with HTC Vive Arts, and BMW’s team-up with Acute Art to showcase the work of Shanghai-based digital artist Lu Yang. Such relationships see both parties benefit from the expertise (cultural or technological) of the other and an expanded audience, ensuring new forms and mediums of engagement.

What they said

“Creating World on a Wire and this new partnership with Hyundai Motor was an opportunity for Rhizome to support artists working with new technologies at the very highest level… In this exhibition, we were able to bring together installations that mix traditional artistic techniques with high-tech methods to respond to critical issues in today’s digital culture.” — Michael Connor, Artistic Director, Rhizome

“Hyundai’s vision of ‘Progress for Humanity’ has always driven everything we do. Our partnership with Rhizome reflects this guiding principle, and we hope this initiative inspires and uplifts those with a passion for the creative arts, especially in these difficult times.” — Wonhong Cho, Executive Vice President and Head of Customer Experience Division, Hyundai Motor Company

“Rhizome’s expertise in identifying digital art trends meets an ideal partner in Hyundai Motor Company. Together, we look forward to supporting visionary artists and creators by providing them vivid online and offline spaces to showcase their distinctive talents.” — Lisa Phillips, Director, New Museum


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