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Hylozoism: An Arts & Technology Exhibition

3 December 2022 - 2 April 2023



Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI) and its affiliated HKDI Gallery, are honoured to present a landmark exhibition of media art, “Hylozoism: An Arts & Technology Exhibition”, featuring an international artists lineup.

HKDI is committed to promoting design education and facilitating dialogue among industry experts, students and design enthusiasts through partnerships with international museums, design institutions and designers. Held from 3 December 2022 until 2 April 2023 at HKDI Gallery and virtually, “Hylozoism: An Arts & Technology Exhibition” explores the symbiotic co-existence between arts and technology and how humans and nature interact.

“We are delighted to present ‘Hylozoism: An Arts & Technology Exhibition’” says Dr Lay Lian ONG, Principal of HKDI. “Arts and Technology are both key areas in which HKDI has committed. We are offering a new Arts Technology programme starting September 2022. The institution organises extended learning programmes for students to acquire new and emerging knowledge and skills outside the standard curriculum. This exhibition would be one of the extended learning opportunities and we hope it will stimulate curiosity and generate discussions on the interwoven relationship of art and technology, human and nature, virtual and the physical.”

Speaking about the exhibition curatorial direction, Joel Kwong and Keith Lam, the curators of the exhibition say, “The merging of innovative technology with artistic concept displays a response to the contemporary and the near future. Like the five elements, the five works in this exhibition present a neo-nature to propose the concept of symbiosis.”

The collection poses a vision of hylozoism for the future, drawing on the co-existence of different organisms in nature and the symbiotic concept of lichen, formed by a complex partnership of fungi and algae. “Hylozoism: An Arts & Technology Exhibition” is representative of the new ecology created jointly by humans and machines.

The exhibition features five international artists who deal with media art, including two from Hong Kong – Ellen Pau and Keith Lam. They were commissioned to produce two new works to explore the possibilities of intervening nature by integrating the arts with technology. The international lineup also includes Japanese music legend Ryuichi Sakamoto with media artist Daito Manabe, Italian artist group Fuse* and Canadian artist Philip Beesley.

“F10ra 0” by Ellen Pau features in-depth research on the Bauhinia x Blakeana Dunn, tracing the story of the first Bauhinia tree discovered in Hong Kong. The musical adaptation the DNA of Bauhinia Blakeana is the key in this installation, which aims to provide an immersive experience of an artificially created nature bit by bit. “F10ra 0” imagines how artificial intelligence interprets the interplay of existence and essence. Posing the question of, if DNA were the language of God, could DNA be decoded for a deeper message from every creature? as the DNA file is translated into sound, Pau hopes to take audience a step closer to the genome study on Bauhinia Blakeana.

Keith Lam’s “TTTV Garden” is a pop-up garden inspired by the father of video art, Nam June Paik’s “TV Garden”. Lam’s work mimics the agricultural technique widely adopted by indoor vertical farming, in which a spectrum of LED lights is used to optimise plant growth. Through learning and analysing the motions and the colour spectrum of the 24-hour news, the computer stimulation transmits and televises such data on the overhead screen in “TTTV Garden”, making it the “sky” that not only feeds information to the public, but also provides lights for the plants in the environment. The interaction between virtuality and reality provides a two-way stimulation to lives, resulting in a mutually inclusive loop.

“TTTV Garden” also streams real-time on social media, inviting viewers to witness every moment of its growth while pondering the conflicts and possibilities derived from the indivisibility of nature and technologies.

Electromagnetic waves imperceivable to humans are made visible and audible in “Sensing Streams 2022 -invisible, inaudible”. Created by renowned Japanese music legend Ryuichi Sakamoto and media artist Daito Manabe, an antenna on site collects electromagnetic waves, and in real time, translates the data through a self-luminous, high-definition screen and speakers. The viewer may change the wavelength frequency with a controller, and manipulate the experience of various simultaneously existing, perpetually changing electromagnetic waves. As electromagnetic waves are an essential part of modern infrastructure, this work presents a phenomenon that usually goes unnoticed – the flow of a multitude of electromagnetic waves – while also reflecting the active involvement through mobile phones.

“Artificial Botany” by fuse* Italy is an ongoing project that explores the expressive capacity of botanical illustrations through the use of machine learning algorithms. Before the invention of photography, botanical illustration was the only way to visually record the many species of plants. Such images were used by physicists, pharmacists, and botanical scientists for identification, analysis, and classification. “Artificial Botany” collects from public domain archive, botanical illustrations by the greatest artists of the genre, including Maria Sibylla Merian, Pierre-Joseph Redouté, Anne Pratt, Marianne North, and Ernst Haeckel. The digital archives are run by a machine learning system GAN (Generative Adversarial Network) and creates new morphed images extremely similar to the originals. The machine re-elaborates the content by creating a new language, capturing the information and artistic qualities of man and nature. The interpretation of the learned data aims to create a new system of relationships between colors, shapes, details, and textures totally new and independent from the previous ones, letting emerge the possibility of new species, classes, and morphologies.

“Grove”, by Canadian architect Philip Beesley, was exhibited in Venice Biennale in 2021. It offers a vision of the world transformed into a gathering place for plants, animals, and inert matter alike. The visual projection and audio environment produce an intense experience of innumerable worlds falling into chaos and rising again in new life. Instead of the rigid, bounded, and closed territories that divide us, Beesley and his collaborators present open and constantly exchanging, shared worlds. In a world battered by the pandemic, Beesley explores the possibility of living in a world of continuous growth, endless transformation and expresses his vision of interdependence and symbiosis.


3 December 2022
2 April
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