Anadelta by Chris Cheung and XEX GRP.

The future is wow: Robotics exhibition that pushes the boundaries of innovation

A multimedia exhibition shows how a group of artists is challenging traditional views of art, writes Vanessa Yung

IF YOU’VE EVER BEEN baffled by an exhibition and wondered where contemporary art is heading, get ready for a surprise. A new media arts and robotics exhibition arrived in Hong Kong last week and promises to challenge traditional views on art and how the public interacts with it.

Titled “The Innovationist”, the exhibition has been installed in the Atrium and Art Space of the K11mall in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Joel Kwong Kai-ling, who is curating the show for Input/Output (I/O) gallery, says the venue was chosen so the exhibition could reach a larger crowd than those who usually frequent museums.

BeBe.5 by Akibo (Li Ming-dao).

Prior to arriving in Hong Kong, “The Innovationist” debuted at the Taiwan Museum of Contemporary Art. More interactive works, including Scott Hessel’s Sustainable Cinema and Chris Cheung Hon-him and XEX GRP’s Anadelta got to stay in the K11 show, while a few pieces from the Taiwan event have been replaced by new ones like DaDi, BeBe.5 and LuLubo Robots by Taiwanese artist Akibo (Li Ming-dao).

“The audience probably won’t experience artworks in a shopping mall the same way as they would in a museum,” says Kwong, who is the artistic director of the I/O gallery.

“So the selections are more interactive, and there is more background information to lure people into exploring how the pieces work.

Some of the selected artworks are really eye-catching; you won’t miss them.

DaDi by Akibo.

They are easy to understand, and appeal to all ages,” she adds.

Kwong says more explanation is given for works on display inside the Art Space. “We disclosed the creative process – the videos, drafts, and the websites – to show the making of [each artwork] and to explore the collaborative nature for media arts.”

While Kwong says the “new media” world is vast – it encompasses anything from conceptual art to digital art and sound art – they try to focus more on device art, kinetic art and interactive art in this show. The key concept is to challenge traditional views of art and the role of the audience, she says.

Dual Windmill by Scott Hessels.

Hong Kong-based American media artist Scott Hessels’ Sustainable Cinema series combines industrial design with animation principles. Praxinoscope Windmill showcases repeated animation controlled by the speed and direction of the wind, while Dual Windmill creates an optical illusion visible in the intersection of two fans rotating in the opposite direction.

Turntable Rider may look like an ordinary BMX bike, but its movements are connected to the controls of a music synthesiser. It is a creative project by “bicycle sharing service unit” COGOO, multimedia design collective Semitransparent Design and global advertising agency TBWA\ Hakuhodo.

Audiences are encouraged to touch anything on display. The installation Anadelta springs to life with music, sound and light when its sensors are triggered.

Local media artist Eric Siu Chi-man’s Touchy is another fun item.

Praxinoscope Windmill by Scott Hessels.

It is a “human camera” that can take photographs if it is touched for more than 10 seconds.

Other works include Dimension+’s origami-inspired Vertebra series and Samson Young’s collection of small electronic objects, collectively called Machines for Making Nothing.

“The concept is inspired by that of alchemy – it shows how media artists work things out through adapting technology and being creative,” Kwong says. “The term ‘innovationists’ stands for a new media formed of art alchemists, a group of [inventors] who are initiating a revolution that will have an impact on our society through their creative works.”

Visitors to the K11mall may well find that the future is now.


The Innovationist – Exploring the Realms of New Media Arts, until July 2, Atrium and Art