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  • Writer's pictureChris Choa

Looking vs. Seeing

We feel disruptive technology all around us. This technology can automate parts of our familiar world in banal ways. But it can also amplify and intensify artistic language; it can take over as an expressive avatar and help make complex experiences leap to our senses.

Lumen Art Projects ( ) is an extraordinary art organization that is devoted to this richer cultural territory, embracing technology for expressive purposes. And as a Lumen Art board member, I had the pleasure of hosting the first Lumen Art Lecture: Mat Collishaw, in conversation with Tessa Jackson OBE, the well-known British contemporary writer, art curator, and cultural administrator.

Collishaw ( ) creates richly-detailed and often shocking work with almost gothic sensibilities. He made his early reputation as one of the ‘YBA’ artists, a key figure in the important generation of British artists who emerged from Goldsmiths’ College in the late 1980s.

Tessa kicked off the conversation, noting Matt’s vivid imagination, and his particular interest in mechanistic behaviour. Matt went on to discuss a range of his work, from propagandistic 16th century portraiture (illustrated by his animatronic Mask of Youth) to imagined rooms where we could sense the sinister qualities of habitual activities or project our anxieties at the dawn of the digital revolution.

The evening’s conversation underscored the difference between ‘looking’ and ‘seeing’. It suggested that as emerging digital technology becomes remind us not to become blinded by familiarity.

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