Abu Dhabi: The ubiquitous presence of technology and the tensions it triggers in our daily lives is the subject of a unique exhibition that opened last week at the New York University’s Art Gallery in Abu Dhabi.
The mix media exhibition titled Invisible Threads: Technology and its Discontents, traverses the past, present and future of man’s constantly changing equation with technology, looking at issues such as isolation vs connectedness, and privacy vs social media exposure.
The opening piece, My Sputnik by American artist Michael Joaquin Grey takes us back to where it all began - the moment when the first artificial satellite Sputnik was launched by Russian scientists in 1957.
“The piece is a carbon copy of the real Sputnik; an exact replica in its size, weight and materials used. Launching of Sputnik was the biggest technological feat by mankind and that was also the starting point of our anxieties related to technology,” said Bana Kattan, Assistant Curator at NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery. She is the co-curator of the exhibition along with Professor Scott Fitzgerald, programme head of Interactive Media at NYU Abu Dhabi.
Another standout work is Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s Stranger Visions, an eerie collection of faces that could be any of us. The artist extracts DNA from items collected in public places, such as strands of hair, or discarded pieces of chewing gum, and uses it to create renderings of what the face of the person who left the item behind might look like, in the form of 3-D masks.
Also to watch out for is Spectrum 2 by Kuwaiti artist Monira Al Qadiri, where the artist draws similarities between the colour spectrum of crude oil and pearl by using drill bits. Al Qadiri connects the past and future by suggesting that drill bits used in oil exploration may end up in future museums – much like how the typewriter is rendered obsolete today.
Running till December 31, Invisible Threads features works by 15 international artists including Ai Weiwei, Jamie Allen, Aram Bartholl, Taysir Batniji, Wafaa Bilal, Liu Bolin, Jonah Brucker-Cohen, Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Michael Joaquin Grey, Monira Al Qadiri, Evan Roth, Phillip Stearns, Siebren Versteeg, Addie Wagenknecht and Kenny Wong.
Kattan said the curators, through the exhibition, hope to encourage the community to think about their personal use of technology and reflect on its tenacious grip in their everyday life. “It is an issue that affects us all.” The exhibition will be complemented by a full public programme of events and talks for all ages, taking place throughout the duration of the exhibition. More information available at www.nyuad-artgallery.org.
What: Invisible Threads: Technology and its Discontents
When: Until December 31
Where: The Art Gallery at NYU Abu Dhabi
Visitor hours: Monday – Saturday, 12pm-8pm (closed Sundays)