Feedback: 2010 01SJ Biennial

"The future is not just about what’s next. It’s also about what we can build to ensure that what’s next matters"…
This was the call to action that prompted an international array of artists to submit proposals to participate in the 3rd iteration of the 01SJ, a North American Biennial at the nexus of art, technology, and digital culture.

The result, over a period of 4-days more than 25,000 visitors engaged with over 100 artists, designers, engineers, filmmakers, musicians, architects and avant-garde creators from 21 countries, as they demonstrated that art can be more than merely aesthetically pleasing, but rather a tool with which to Build Your Own World. In addition, 22,000 visitors experienced 01SJ partner programming, in the months leading up to and following the Biennial.
With Build Your Own World as the central curatorial theme, the 2010 01SJ Biennial took place on September 16–19 throughout the City of San Jose, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley. Lead by 01SJ Artistic Director, Steve Dietz, in his third and final year with the Biennial, and ZERO1’s
Executive Director Joel Slayton, the 2010 01SJ Biennial featured works by such art and design luminaries as the Rockwell Group and its LAB, Brody Condon, Natalie Jeremijenko, Rigo23, Todd Chandler, Blast Theory, and Chris Baker.

From the creation of lush landscapes of sound by information architect and cellist Zoe Keating, performed in the Empire Drive-In, a theater fashioned out of salvaged and wrecked automobiles created by artists Todd Chandler and Jeff Stark, to Randall Packard’s politically inspired multi-media opera, the Rockwell Group and the LAB’s transformation of San Jose’s City Hall facade into an interactive digitally enhanced architectural wonder, and Blast Theory’s locative cinema work
A Machine to See With commissioned by ZER01, Banff New Media Institute at the Banff Centre, and Sundance Film Festival, the 2010 01SJ Biennial offered visitors a world of possibilities as rendered through a variety of artistic mediums.

Geared around the notion that artists can, and do, act as change-agents through the use of technologies in their artwork; whether these technologies are natural resources, simple, or advanced tools; the 2010 curatorial programming drew upon on the conviction that the 01SJ Biennial and participating artists have the capability to challenge the norm, raise public awareness, encourage curiosity, and influence societal actions and perceptions. And so it was no surprise that the Biennial’s primary focal point, the exhibition, Out of the Garage Into the World, situated in San Jose Convention Center’s 80,000 square foot South Hall, with master exhibition plan designed by Madrid-based architect Angel Borrego Cubero, transformed the Biennial into a contemporary art DIY epicenter of creativity.
Extending beyond South Hall, 01SJ exhibits and events took place in neighboring Bay Area cities Berkeley, Oakland, Cupertino, San Francisco, and throughout downtown San Jose in galleries, museums, public and private venues. Highlighted attractions included The Tech Museum’s premiere exhibition Liquid Galaxy that included the immersive Google Earth experience, TECHstyle and softWEAR at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, and 300 Santana Row the site of Chris Baker’s outdoor interactive text receptive video installation offscript.

Central to the mission of ZER01, the producers of the 01SJ Biennial, is the belief that the technological innovations emerging from Silicon Valley will not only expand our notions of the boundaries of art, but also illuminate how to become more socially and culturally responsible. Notes Joel Slayton, ZER01 Executive Director, working with some of the most fertile and creative minds from the worlds of art, design, architecture and technology, the 01SJ Biennial provides a forum for transcending traditional boundaries and disciplines, provoking a critical understanding of contemporary culture, and inspiring new ways of looking at — even operating in — the world.

With digital culture in ascendance, and increased technologic fluency at their fingertips, the 2010 01SJ Biennial has shown that preventing these artists from changing the world just might be futile. Whether engaged by the 01SJ exhibition epicenter Out of the Garage, Into the World, city-wide art installations, a digital art collector’s panel, or AbsoluteZER0 _ the 01SJ nighttime street fair that celebrated the creativity and technological virtuosity, (both being hallmarks of Silicon Valley) and featured works such as artist Chico MacMurtrie ‘s robotic outdoor sculpture utilizing inflatable bodies technology, Suzy Poling’s ‘Sonic Tube’ light art experiment with video and sound, and Tim Roseborough’s virtual moonlit water garden in which the plants flourish to the tones of the singing voice _ the 2010 01SJ Biennial proved that when art, technology, and digital culture converge, it’s open season for artists to imagine and even prototype the future in order to change the way world works, plays, and lives.

Sarah NesbiT

Published in the Digitalarti Mag #5.

Digitalarti Mag, the international digital art and innovation magazine.

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