HUMAN MEETS DIGITAL

Volvo Art Session “Human Meets Digital” took place 12. – 14. October at Schiffbau Zurich. The inspiring event also celebrated the launch of the new compact SUV XC40. I attended the 6. VAS and share with you my vast impressions.

Andy meets Warhol at VAS 2017. Shot by artist & photographer Sebastian Magnani

THE SESSION

Volvo Art Session (VAS) has made a name for itself as a forum for international and national artists, designers and progressive thinkers. This year Volvo Art Session under motto “Human Meets Digital” touched the growing and increasingly powerful link between humans and technology. After a warm welcome by Natalie Robyn, Managing Director at Volvo Car Switzerland, renowned futurist and Time magazine Influential 100 Honoree Martin Lindstrom held an inspiring speech talking about the pros and cons of the increasing digitalisation and its impact on humans. Martin made his points in a well-structured, humorous presentation clear( I particularly liked his story about playing with LEGO as a kid and how in later year’s he shaped the strategy of the firm). His conclusion was that we (as well as brands and marketeers) should start focussing more on humans, their behaviour and emotions. And that these “small data” are what make a difference in the end. The peril of getting lost in an idealised digital world is great and technology and social media is only supporting that fact. Thus, the role of technology should be to amplify the human dimensions.

Also, a breathtaking part of the session was the show: a powerful mix of design, art and innovative technology underlying #HumanmeetsDigital”. It was implemented by flora & fauna visions (Leigh Sachwitz) on behalf of EQAL. I have never before experienced such a a unique blend of disciplines (dancers Afina Feodossiadi and Daniel Asamoah to a choreography by Jeffrey Jimenez and music by Dariuz Voltra). I was transferred into an electric and gripping mood which was also underlined by stunning light laser art.

THE VENUE

At its opening on the 12.10, Schiffbau in Zurich was transformed into a genuine “Session of Art, Exchange & Innovation”. Approximately 350 invited guests attended the venue which featured an exhibition by art collective Refrakt from Berlin as well as a light installation by the discipline of interaction design of the ZHdK in cooperation with Lucid. The installation was called «Through Momentum»: under the artistic lead of Joël Gähwiler and Moritz Kemper, it reflected the aspects of digitisation in a playful way. The installation featured a grid of 48 light objects hanging from the ceiling; as soon as someone enters the installation they “interact” with the spectator.

Andy Meets Warhol experiencing «Through Momentum» with artist & photographer Sebastian Magnani

THE CAR

While entering Schiffbau, my attention fell on the new Volvo XC40 in a red colour. The same model in a shiny white colour was also featured in another part further inside the venue. What I really liked about this car was the urban and compact character of it, the smart use of spaces as well as innovative features such as a car sharing app and a really cool two-tone finish (Ian Kettle, the designer of the car mentioned that it makes the car’s design even more vivid). As someone living in a city as Zurich, I think it is the perfect car to safely use both in the city as well as on (weekend) getaways to the mountains or museums and galleries in other cities. Its price begins at 35.000 CHF.

FINAL WORDS

Definitely an interesting initiative by Volvo Switzerland and a cudos for all involved in coordinating and brining such a diverse programme to life (+an international team of artists, influencers, key players from around the globe).

Also, thanks for the warm assistance of all attendees.

I’m already curious for next year’s event.

Take care & write to you soon.

Read the German version here

 

 

 

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ANDY MEETS ROBOT

“Kissing the future” on the streets of Zurich. Since some weeks robots have appeared on the streets of Zurich. I explore what this new project is all about as well as present some art which is inspired by robots.

Since some weeks you can spot robots on a the streets of Central Zurich robots. This new technology is being tested by Post AG, the national postal service of Switzerland, with renowned robots made by Starship Technologies.

Deutsche Version hier

Hello Robot Vitra Design Museum

Hello Robot Vitra Design Museum ©VB

The robots

In cooperation with the iconic luxury department store Jelmoli, the robots are currently offered as a free service. You can order a shirt, chocolate or a picnic basket and deliver it free of charge to the desired location in the city center (within 2 km). When the robot arrives at your location, you open the robot by means of a code sent by SMS and remove the desired packet.

The delivery robot travels on the pavement at a maximum of six kilometers per hour and can transport packages weighing up to ten kilograms. Nine cameras around the small vehicle are supposed to prevent the robot from driving onto people or colliding with a tram or bicycle.

The flexibility of it in climbing the pavement, and crossing streets is significant. It is “99 percent” autonomous with minimal human oversight, however at the moment it is still accompanied by a handler to avoid obstacles.

I personally think the robot’s appearance is elegant and futuristic, like a stretched out version of “Iron Man’s helmet”, however in no way disturbing. I could even describe it as friendly.

The feedback from the locals has been in majority positive. Here it should also be noted that the robots do not aim to replace the traditional post men. They will be more in place for delivery purposes such as food delivery, an area which they robots can disrupt and make more efficient. I am very much excited to see how they will be integrated into the existing logistics chain of Zurich.

 

5 artworks

Below I am presenting 5 artworks where robots play a central role.

1. Sun Yuan and Peng Yu “Can’t Help Myself”
Sun Yuan and Peng Yu "Can't Help Myself"

Sun Yuan and Peng Yu “Can’t Help Myself” (2016) — an industrial robot — at the Guggenheim Museum

 

2. Jordan Wolfson’s – Female Figure
Jordan Wolfson’s Female Figure (2014)

Jordan Wolfson’s Female Figure (2014) a life-size talking, moving robot, is now part of Eli and Edythe Broad’s massive contemporary art collection.

3. Nam June Paik, Søren Kierkegaard Robot, 1996
Nam June Paik, Søren Kierkegaard Robot, 1996

Artwork by Korean-American artist Nam June Paik: robot made out of old radio and TV sets. Nam June Paik, Søren Kierkegaard Robot, 1996. Photo: Frida Gregersen.

4. Shawn Maximo, Going Green, 2016
Shawn Maximo, Going Green, 2016

Shawn Maximo, Going Green, 2016 © Shawn Maximo Rendering | Fine Art Print 114 x 152 x 6 cm

5.  Zeugen – Morgan Rauscher
Zeugen – Morgan Rauscher

Toronto-based interactive artist Morgan Rauscher’s 2009 project, Zeugen, was made up of 32 human-cast faces rigged with a robotic device for face tracking. The idea behind the interactive work is the notion of seeing and being seen.

Take care & write to you soon.

Read the German version here

Andy Meets Mary Rozell, Global Head of UBS Art Collection & curator Lucian Freud: Closer

In light of the new Lucian Freud: Closer, Etchings exhibition from the UBS Art Collection, I meet Mary Rozell, Global Head of UBS Art Collection and curator of this exhibition. Topics we discuss cover Lucian Freud, master of figurative painting, and the exhibition in Berlin, the great initiative of UBS towards art & culture and the “future of art collecting”.

 

 

UBS Art collection’s mission is to build and maintain a seminal body of work that provokes thought while being inspirational. What aspects did you take into account while curating Lucian Freud: Closer (also in regard to Berlin as a choice of location and the Martin-Gropius-Bau?)

Thank you Andy – you describe the mission of the UBS Art Collection nicely. We are so excited to have all of these important works on view in the city of Freud’s birth and at the Martin-Gropius-Bau – a historically symbolic building and one of Europe’s renowned exhibition spaces. I must give credit to Poul Eric Tøjner and Anders Kold of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art who recognized the power of these works and first provided them with a public platform in 2015.  Dr. Gereon Sievernich, Director of the Martin-Gropius-Bau, felt that this group of works would resonate in this city. This exhibition marks the first time these works will be seen by audiences in Berlin.

You have been leading the UBS Art Collection team for around two years now: how has your experience so far been in managing a corporate collection? What have you enjoyed most/ what have the challenges been?

It‘s hard to believe that it has been almost two years since I started. The experience has been extremely positive. As Global Head, I am responsible for all aspects of the Collection from stewardship and new acquisitions to loans, publications and commissions. I also am charged with developing ways to share the Collection with the public. It is very rewarding to see how deeply engaged the public has been with Freud works in this show.  The greatest challenge is trying to meet the incredible demand for art within our business and beyond.

If any/ which of Freud’s 51 exhibited works has particularly caught your attention and why ?

There are a total of 54 works in the exhibition – 51 etchings and three paintings. As with all of Freud works, these are not easily consumed. They are all so powerful and raw, yet at the same time delicate and extremely intimate.  It is hard to choose just one.

What do you think of artists such as Freud, whose style remains remarkably consistent throughout their career?

Like most artists of Freud’s stature, there was a process of development.  His earliest works, which recall Surrealism, Neue Sachlichkeit, and German Expressionism, are hardly recognisable as Freuds.  Once he found his unique artistic signature, he did stick with it for many decades.  That’s what make these etchings so interesting.  Freud only started working in the medium in earnest in the 1980s once he was fully established as a painter. The etchings provided an important new challenge and a new means of expression for the artist, becoming an essential element of his overall oeuvre.  They are unmistakably Freud and yet they are very distinct from the paintings in the precise use of line and the almost complete elimination of contextualising backgrounds.

Is there a notable recent acquisition of art for UBS Art collection which you would like to highlight and if so which artwork/ artist would it be?

We have acquired a lot of very interesting work in the last year and are proud of the number of women artists we have been able to support.  One in particular that comes to mind is a piece by the Paris-based American artist Sheila Hicks entitled Mining Red Slate from the Depths, 2017. Although Hicks’s international stature has only recently begun to climb, she has long been considered one of the most important contemporary artists working with textiles. Hicks creates highly tactile pieces, revealing a truly painterly approach to light and color, as well as keen awareness of the interplay with architecture.

How influential are you in your own decisions for the acquisition of new artworks for the UBS collection & how does the acquisition process work? Do you take decisions as a team?

More than anything, the collecting process for UBS is based on need. The focus now is on building a collection that reflects our businesses today. I’m fortunate to have a global team on four continents to help manage the Collection and source works. It’s wonderful to have a continuous dialogue about artists we discover and care about.

How important is art (material) in acquiring new art for the UBS Art collection: How flexible are you in acquiring artworks such as sculptures, neon or other art installations? 

In a corporate environment, we have to be considerate about the placement of art, so material plays a big role. It’s not a museum, so we can’t have delicate pieces. It’s also important to consider the longevity of artwork; I always consider what a piece is going to look like in 50 years.

The artworks are being hanged at the UBS offices around the world: how important are decorative purposes and aesthetics vs. art which criticises society and current global issues  (including topics of war, hunger, sexual exploitation, refugees). Where do you draw a line?

As you mentioned, the vast majority of our works are on display in our offices around the world. We want the work to be thought-provoking and inspiring, but there are some limitations due to the corporate environment. We avoid acquiring works where the content includes subjects like overt violence, sex or politics. That’s not to say that there are not potent underlying messages.  Sometimes sensitivities are regional.

Can interested people book a tour to view the artworks of the UBS Art collection; how accessible is the collection to art enthusiasts during the year? (regardless of the exhibitions)

We host private tours for UBS clients and international art and education groups in our major locations in New York, London, Zurich and Hong Kong. We also share our Collection with our clients, prospects and guests at our VIP lounge at Art Basel in Basel, Miami Beach and Hong Kong. There is great demand to view our Collection and we try to accommodate as many requests as possible.  It is also rewarding for us to open up the dialogue around the works that we care for.

Do you use social networks to identify new artists & artworks; do influencers, “online curators” play a role in the future. As far as the “digitalisation of the art world”: what model(s) do you think will prevail?

Social networks do not play a large part in our identifying new artists and artworks. One of our missions is to support the artist directly, so we mainly acquire from galleries on the primary market. We stay abreast of developments through art periodicals, both print and online, and have regular conversations with curators, dealers and other knowledgeable individuals whose opinions we value.

Finally a Warhol related question:  As far as I know, the UBS Art collection comprises of  Andy Warhol works. What comes to your mind in regard to Andy Warhol, his art and legacy?

The UBS Art Collection currently has two works by Warhol: Campbell’s Soup I, 1968, a portfolio of ten screen prints and Joseph Beuys, 1984. (Mao, 1973 and Cagney, 1962 were recently donated by UBS to the Museum of Modern Art, New York, as part of a major corporate gift of 44 works, fully realised earlier this year.)

Warhol is clearly a major figure of the last century and we are fortunate to have acquired these works at the time of their creation.  He has had a huge influence on our understanding of contemporary art, one that resonates with artists to this day.

Thank you very much Mary and best of luck with the exhibition.

Thank you, Andy.

Further info:

Lucian Freud: Closer
Etchings from the UBS Art Collection

Where
Martin-Gropius-Bau
Niederkirchnerstraße 7
10963 Berlin

Dates
22 July – 22 October 2017

Opening Hours
Wednesday to Monday 10:00 – 19:00
Closed on Tuesdays
Special Opening Hours: open on Tuesday 3.10

Join the conversation:
#UBSArtCollection

#UBSart

#ANDYMEETSWARHOL

 

Click here for German version. 

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