<ENTER> World Wide Web in 1991, Google in 1998 and Facebook in 2004.
Doesn’t feel too long ago, does it? Virtually, our world as we know it (or not anymore), is changing at speeds surpassing the innovation cycles from past centuries. Without which (the historical inventions), where will we be?
French Artist Xavier Antin invites us to contemplate this intertwined story of production and civilisation through his site-specific exhibition – Vanishing Workflows – that opens tomorrow at Aloft at Hermès.
The installation set in Singapore – a garden city juxtaposed by its thriving technological and finance industries – presents the polarisation of artisanal craftsmanship and digitisation through time.
Employing the timeless, symbolic representation of flowers for nature, vanity and life, Antin translated the iconic landscape of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, into a contemporary still-life tapestry.
Xavier Antin shares:
“I have shot videos of flowers in the gardens of Singapore which I have used to created printed fabrics. For this process, the videos are projected on flatbed scanners, resulting in an image file which I have printed on large pieces of upholstery fabric using an inkjet printer that has been specially hacked and transformed. These fabrics will be suspended in the exhibition as a reconstructed landscape, bring back the flowers to Singapore after a journey in a mixed digital-handcrafted production process.”
The printing, to reference the historic and revolutionary Gutenberg printing technique from the 1400s is a nod to the important contribution to civilisation. A sculpture-like Bitcoin machine placed in front of the tapestry completed his narrative.
At face value, you see references to two defining inventions that changed the world.
The economic and social impact of innovation and digitisation is clear.
Take a step back, consider this:
“As the Bitcoin machine accumulates credits by validating digital transactions, it sends an automated request for a bouquet of flowers to be delivered to Aloft, making Aloft a production site. Market fluctuations have a direct impact on the flowers’ renewal cycle of life and decay, and the state of the flowers mirror the market’s ever-changing health, highlighting the tension between technology and nature, the represented and the hidden, the traditional theme of vanity and the contemporary human condition.”
In application, Antin’s uncanny site-specific installation presents the inextricable link between commerce (cryptocurrency Bitcoin) and nature (UNESCO World Heritage Site Singapore Botanic Gardens) in anthropocene times.
The value of commerce determines the extent and frequency of flowers delivery to the space.
Let the flowers bloom, while technology pits against itself in the race of progression. Or, obsolescence.
Something to think about.
The Vanishing Workflows Exhibition
Through local lens, Vanishing Workflows tells the intertwined story of production and civilisation from past to future. It provokes global questions about the value and future of labour, production, industry, and economics in this digital world, using these themes to explore the state of the contemporary human condition.
14 December 2018 to 10 March 2019
10:30 am to 8 pm daily
Aloft at Hermès, 541 Orchard Road, Liat Towers
Antin’s works revolve around the process of publishing and the notion of scale of production. Using modes of production from various centuries and evocative imagery from significant time periods, his works highlight the economic and social structures that presided during their emergence. They open dialogues about civilisation and Man’s relationship with himself and his surroundings through the ages.
His love of books and his training as a graphic designer have shaped his interest in image and text reproduction technologies and their modes of functioning.
Fascinated with the idea of reproduction, and most notably the impact of the latest technological developments on our perception of images and objects, his earlier works aimed to undermine through protocols of errors, creating little strands of freedom in an increasingly perfect global production system.
From the histories of design in industrial society to the processes of extreme free-market exchanges, Antin’s rigorous examination of physical production emphasizes the influence that technologies have had, are having, and will have on our relationship to the world.
The Fondation d’entreprise Hermès supports men and women seeking to learn, perfect, transmit and celebrate the creative skills that shape our lives today and into the future.
Aloft at Hermès
One of Fondation d’entreprise Hermès’ five art spaces around the world, Aloft is a platform for contemporary artists to explore new expressive forms and to bring their creative dreams to life through original works created in situ. Each year, two artists are invited to explore an annual exhibition theme that engages the public in an ongoing dialogue exploring key issues and new perspectives. Additionally, in keeping with the Foundation’s overaching commitment for its worldwide exhibition spaces, Aloft will continually showcase and support French artists internationally. Inhabiting the upper floor of the Hermès flagship store, Aloft takes over the baton from Third Floor- Hermès. This new chapter reaffirms the Hermès vision of offering the community a unique space at the heart of Orchard Road to encounter and fall in love with Art.
Images courtesy of Hermès. Additional images by Curatedition.