Art and technology come together in an exhibition in Rio

Robots with tentacles that respond to human movements, quantum physics represented by glowing feathers… an artistic exhibition that uses new technologies, including artificial intelligence, opens its doors on Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro.

The Nova Bienal Rio brings together 70 works from 30 countries in the Museu do Amanhã (Museum of Tomorrow), a futuristic space resembling a ship designed by famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

Six of these works will be exhibited outside the museum and will be open to everyone for ten days.

Opposite the majestic Guanabara Bay, for example, stands the installation “Tube” by the collective Numen/For Use, a kind of spider-web-like labyrinth in which visitors hang from a large black net. Inside, the audience moves in the darkness to better perceive the play of light.

Most of the works are interactive, such as “Quantum Jungle” by the German Robin Baumgarten, which invites you to rub your fingers over a large tactile panel made of 720 feathers surrounded by colorful LED light bulbs.

The 12,000 bulbs light up according to the movement of fingers on the feathers, following a computer program that reproduces the Schrödinger equation, one of the fundamentals of quantum physics.

The work was designed in collaboration with researchers at the University of Pisa, Italy. “My job as an artist is to make sure it is as pretty, fun and playful as possible while respecting scientific precision,” Robin Baumgarten tells AFP.

“I love this mix of art and technology,” adds the former computer programmer from Berlin.

“It is not a technology event, it is an event that shows how artists use technology to create new aesthetic forms,” assures Ricardo Barreto, exhibition curator.

“Where is the innovation today? In technology,” he emphasizes.

The installation “Liminal” by Canadian Louis-Philippe Rondeau in the Nova Bienal Rio exhibition, September 19, 2023, in Rio de Janeiro / AFP

In some works, visitors can see their own image recreated using various technologies.

Just stare into the camera for a few seconds and transform into a post-apocalyptic cartoon hero, or walk through a ring of light and see your reflection in motion, projected onto a horizontal white screen.

And with “Petting Zoo” by British studio Minimaforms, a robot equipped with three long arms that unfold like tentacles reacts differently to each visitor’s movements.

Theodore Spyropoulos interacts with the robots of the “petting zoo” installation at the Nova Bienal Rio exhibition, September 19, 2023 / AFP

“It is a way to rethink our relationship with robots and artificial intelligence by humanizing these technologies to understand how they can adapt to us,” explains artist Theodore Spyropoulos.

The Nova Bienal Rio exhibition runs until October 29th.

Jillian Snider

Extreme problem solver. Professional web practitioner. Devoted pop culture enthusiast. Evil tv fan.

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