This global exhibition brings rising digital artists to the busiest streets in the world
From Times Square to Shibuya, Global Gallery is an outdoor exhibition that brings emerging artists and their work to the biggest commercial hubs of the world.
You don’t need to be an expert in the subject to have noticed the way we consume art is changing rapidly. Digital art and virtual, alternative and augmented reality have ushered in a new and exciting dimension for visual communication and, despite the fact some of these technologies are still in their infancy, the possibilities that beckon represent a shakeup to the art world akin to the camera’s invention. Marina Abramovic, Olafur Eliasson and KAWS have all exhibited via VR headsets, Ai Weiwei has presented new work virtually on Piccadilly Circus, Jeff Koons has even partnered with Snapchat. Art’s heavyweights are adapting, and the pandemic has catalysed a clearer vision of our digital future, but, more importantly, what can this shift do for the next generation?
Global Gallery, a new global project from Porsche in collaboration with König Galerie, seeks to find an answer to this question, pushing forward with an innovative way to experience emerging digital art outside the gallery. Launched on the 9th of October, Porsche has teamed up with 11 rising artists, who will find their work displayed in a multi-city exhibition hosted on some of the biggest billboards in the world. So, simply look upwards until the 5th of December, and you might find art where an advert might normally live. (Times Square in New York, Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, and Callao Lights in Madrid all hosted their work for one hour on Oct. 9th… it doesn’t get much bigger than that.) In these spaces, where loud and garish videos often vie for your attention, Global Gallery will introduce street dwellers to something more considered (and conceptual), and traditional modes of advertising have been subverted with cutting edge technology. Artists John Yuyi, Auriea Harvey, Ben Elliot, Nicole Ruggiero, Andy Picci, Jonas Lund, kennedy+swan, Banz & Bowinkel, Junuwana, Jon Burgerman and Manuel Rossner have all created something special for the installation -- as part of Porsche’s mission to give emerging digital artists a unique and powerful stage.
This art isn’t just viewable; it’s also purchasable via open NFTs (unlike most NFTs, these are not limited in number but are only available for eight weeks) – accessed from screens on the street, starting at €100. Before 2021, the acronym NFT wasn’t widely known or very well understood. In fact, most of us are still struggling to get our heads around how cryptocurrency and blockchains work, or how their prominence in purchasing art came to be so quickly. As Bas Grasmayer wrote in i-D back in March: “A year ago, the notion of selling a digital image for thousands of dollars would have seemed outlandish, if not impossible. And yet, that’s exactly what’s happening right now.” What we do know is the positive impact it can have -- contemporary art auctions reached an all-time high of $2.7bn over the past year, helped by NFTs, according to a report by Artprice and, for artists creating in the digital space, especially ones who are still building their profile and starting to build a name for themselves, these sales can be a lifeline, whilst opening up the art world to an audience who may previously have been left out.
“I’m hoping this makes people stop in their tracks,” says Auriea Harvey, a digital sculptor producing simulations and objects “that bridge physical and virtual space”. For her piece, Auriea has created a scan of her head and turned it into sculpture, as a “reminder of beauty and death.” For John Yuyi — a digital artist from Taipei, Taiwan, once referred to as the “Willy Wonka of the art world” by i-D — her contribution builds on her famous Face Post project, whereby social media platforms are emblazoned on her skin (originally conceived after a fan page she made for herself on Facebook hit 2000 fans). For Global Gallery, her work is just as subversive, placing a “sensitive content” warning from Instagram beneath one eye and an iPhone camera on top of the other -- a reaction to the deluge of content in our lives.
Ben Elliot similarly questions the prominence of social media, the new beauty standards it preaches while finding inspiration in emerging technologies and how they will shape the new world. “I have my avatar,” he says, which he monetises, “I sell my selfies, and I have my cryptocurrency,” he says. With his work, Ben wants “people to fill the spirit of a new life,” and for Global Gallery, this takes the form of a beautifying filter and a flame across his face. Andy Picci’s work revolves around “the phenomenon of celebrity and the research of identity in the age of hyper-digitalisation,” he says. It’s also a response to his suspicion that we find it easier to share our intimate selves with strangers rather than the people we’re close to. For Andy, this opportunity reminds him of his own place in the art world, after critics said his work simply “wasn’t art”.
As artist Jonas Lund says, “Porsche is really enabling artists to fulfil certain aspects of their practice, to reach a larger audience, to get a platform, and a global stage.” To read more about these artists, and to purchase their Global Gallery artworks, go to MISA.ART/GG