In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, the exhibition “Art + Tech: An Asian American Experience” was presented earlier this month featuring the artwork of Takafumi Ide, Izumi Ashizawa and Han Qin, all members of the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Art.
Presented by New York City College of Technology, City University of New York (CUNY), the exhibit featured 31 artworks by 21 Asian and Asian American artists and two art groups. Artists explored new possibilities that technology has brought to art making; boundaries between art and technology; and those who use new media in their investigation of social, cultural and political issues. Professor Zhijian Qian, from CUNY’s New York City College of Technology, was the curator of the exhibition, and art writer Hu Lingyuan was the curatorial assistant.
The exhibition included a wide variety of artworks including video installations, sound installations, video art, computer art, VR art, kinetic and dynamic installations, light and mixed-media installations, network art, video painting, new forms of sculpture, two-dimensional works with new media, and performance art combining technology and the human body. To a large extent, these works reflected the new trends in contemporary art in the 21st century, which are increasingly related to technological development.
Takafumi Ide, instructional support technician in the Department of Art, exhibited two works: waft, created in 2018, and embrace, created in 2022, both of which centered around the theme of the beauty of ephemeral life. These pieces incorporated the latest technologies, such as AR and programming, to create an immersive experience that beautifully depicts the transience of life. Through these works, Ide’s goal was to have his audience gain a profound understanding of the fleetingness and preciousness of life, presented in a modern and accessible way.
Izumi Ashizawa, associate professor in the Department of Art, featured her work, Kurogo Me version 1.0. The piece included a moving image of a description and information about the “Kurogo” character, which was created through a 3D body scan program to evoke the notion of a scientific specimen, and the video game avatar character. In the art+tech context, an “invisible” Kurogo became the signifier to question the identity politics in internet culture — criticism of the SNS experience. The performance objects were exhibited as an installation piece, “Kurogo Me version 1.0: the Downloads” during the exhibition period.
Han Qin, an adjunct professor in the Department of Art, exhibited My Father Land, a site-specific video installation that combined poetry and portraits from migrants. The piece illustrated the continuous history of immigration and a synergy between local history and current residents, aiming to challenge common expectations of who are immigrants, and the selective history represented in our civic spaces. Portraits included digital 3D facial scans of participating immigrants — the skin texture of each was represented by a color and material that evoked the person’s identity. The installation recognized the infinite contributions that influence our understanding of place.
The geographical and cultural composition of the artists in this exhibition provided a rare opportunity for the public to understand the diversity and richness of Asian Americans. It also demonstrated that Asian American artists’ artistic practices and strengths have become an important force in contemporary art in the United States and around the world.