Future Media Arts Festival Presents Engaging Takes on Incipient Futures

by Brian Hioe

Photo Credit: C-LAB/Facebook

THE FUTURE MEDIA Arts Festival at the Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab, or C-Lab, offers a panoply of attempts to investigate the new, digital future that we seem to be hurtling toward. This is presented across multiple buildings and in a variety of formats, ranging from installations to video art. Indeed, the present author did not actually have the time to visit the entirety of the festival, as it was spread across three buildings—nevertheless, what he did see was worth reflecting on. 

Some works in the exhibition are overtly political and touch on contemporary politics close to home in Taiwan, such as Hong Kong artist Bryan WC Chung’s iFace DQ, which examines the faces of visitors for their resemblance to disqualified legislators in Hong Kong. Other works focus on international issues regarding disinformation, such as Tactical Tech’s The Glass Room (Misinformation Edition), which aims to be educational in some manner, equipping visitors with the capacities to deal with growing issues regarding disinformation and misinformation. Chang Li-ren’s Battle City Trilogy and Lawrence Lek’s Sinofuturism also provide glimpses of potential futures in Taiwan and China. 

Photo credit: C-LAB/Facebook

Still other works in the exhibition take a broader view, regarding the longue-duree endeavor of human science, as with Kepler’s Dream, by German artists Michael Burk and Ann-Katrin Krenz, which in some ways centers visuality and the historic drive to gaze upon and explore space and other far-flung frontiers. The work allows visitors to examine a 3D-printed rock, which visitors can examine through a lens that has some aspects of light projection. SoftMachine, by Ralf Baecker, is similar, evoking the specter of artificial life with its use of fluids set into motion by mechanical motion, to a set rhythm. 

Many of the works present in the exhibition have an interactive aspect, so as to allow visitors to directly engage in what they see, rather than be passive observers. In this respect, the works on display prove highly engaging to the audience. Though the works stand apart, they still present a cohesive unity regarding the visions of the future they offer, in this respect, the festival proves an intriguing one, not to mention one stimulating for reflection.