Giant skulls and 3D-printed death masks: Art meets technology in the NGV Triennial
Melbourne's inaugural Triennial exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is an exuberant and exhilarating display of contemporary art featuring pieces from over 100 artists and designers from 32 countries. One of the prevailing features of this extraordinarily immersive spectacle is how deeply technology is infiltrating the world of art, from gorgeous 3D-printed death masks to an overwhelming room-scale installation that incorporates projections with movement sensors.
Looming over the entire exhibition is Ron Mueck's astonishing Mass, a giant installation incorporating over 100 huge skulls, each individually hand-cast out of fiberglass resin. Even more compelling is the way the installation spills into the NGV's permanent gallery of 18th century art to create an excitingly surreal commentary on the fate of classical art.
Neri Oxman's The Vesper Series feels like wandering through a bizarre alien burial chamber with 15 life-size alien visages inspired by the idea of traditional death masks, which are historically used to capture a person's facial features through wax or plaster.
Here Oxman employs entirely digital generative processes to construct a futuristic form of death mask, using sophisticated 3D-printing technology to manufacture a strange otherworldly variation on a classic historical object.
The influence of 3D-printing can be found all over the Triennial. Several Joris Laarman pieces prominently display emerging metal printing technologies, while Iris van Herpen's avant-garde fashion illustrates how 3D-printing new materials can produce entirely modern textiles and fashion.
Since 2001, the Tokyo-based collective teamLab has been creating immersive installations inspired by new technologies and this new NGV commission is a stunningly disorientating experience. Referencing the natural vortices created by weather patterns this installation uses movement tracking sensors to follow a person through the room and project digital particles onto the floor to represent the flow of their movements.
Despite being a wholly digital installation the piece doesn't exist until a human presence triggers it, and the more people in the space the more hectic the vortex patterns become. Describing themselves as "ultratechnologists", teamLab has created a fascinating blend of digital and organic in this engaging installation.
We've only scratched the surface of this massively impressive exhibition that also features Richard Mosse's exploration of military-grade thermal imaging cameras, Sean O'Connell's experiments with electricity and materials, and Louisa Bufardeci's transformation of Google Earth data into needlepoint textiles.
Take a look through our gallery for a closer look at this stimulating exhibition highlighting the way technology is transforming the world of contemporary art.