When the machines take over the studio

London-based Italian artist Quayola is known to use digital technology to tackle classic aesthetics and explore the tensions and equilibriums between seemingly opposing forces.

What will the face of art look like, once AI technology has teamed up with the perception and creative mind of the artist in concept design, visual display and sound recording?

In Quayola’s solo exhibition at HOW Museum, you see Hellenistic sculptures carved by robots, Baroque frescoes analyzed beneath their figurative appearance in HD videos, old master paintings reduced to color schemes into new abstractions and constantly changing landscapes portrayed as a flow of consciousness, as if you see what you picture in your mind’s eye.

The London-based Italian artist is known to use digital technology to tackle classic aesthetics and explore the tensions and equilibriums between seemingly opposing forces: the real and artificial, figurative and abstract, old and new.

Through the perspectives of machines, the past is revisited in relationship with present and future — exploring asymmetry that completely excludes humans’ subjective views and leaves machine-processed objective ideas.

The “Sculpture Factory” is inspired by the non-finito technique of Michelangelo. It introduces a new performance by a large robot, which sculpts infinite variations of Pluto and Proserpina, Baroque masterpiece of Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini from the 17th century.

When the machines take over the studio
Courtesy of Quayola

"Sculpture Factory #2," 2019

For Quayola, the subject of “The Sculpture Factory” is not the final sculpture, but the material — a material which is constantly mutating into endless geometrical shapes to set eventually as a series of sculptures — from simplicity to complexity, from sharp to smooth, from abstract to figurative. The robotic installation along with the serial production of unfinished works is a metaphor for the complexity of life.

“Remains,” “Promenade,” “Jardins d’Ete” and “Camouflage” are ongoing projects that reexamine familiar visual languages of nature and traditional compositions of landscape paintings.

Through complicated digital rendering, new digital landscapes emerge from actual natural landscapes that are captured in high resolution by high-precision laser scanners and cameras.

Diverse motifs come in to play for each work by recreating a new visual literacy. “Remains” observes the En plein air, or painting outdoors, in the late 19th century; “Promenade” explores new aesthetics of autonomous vehicles and machine vision by using a drone; and “Jardins d’Ete” and “Camouflage” evoke imagery from the French impressionism of Claude Monet.

Ultimately, the works become hybrid landscapes — neither real nor virtual — transcending the boundaries of the figurative and abstract domains. Like it or not, you get addicted.

The daily banalities are freely detached from their original contexts to become new objects of contemplation through the peculiar mechanism of machinery and the complex algorithms of Quayola.

When the machines take over the studio
Courtesy of Quayola

"Strata #1," 2018

When the machines take over the studio
Courtesy of Quayola

“Jardins d’Ete-4,” 2016

When the machines take over the studio
Courtesy of Quayola

"Remains C_003," 2018

Exhibition Info

Date: Through June 2 (closed on Mondays), Tuesday-Friday 1-10pm; Saturday-Sunday 10am-10pm
Venue: HOW Art Museum
Address: No. 1, 2277 Zuchongzhi Rd

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