UCCA Beijing

"Immaterial/Re-material: A Brief History of Computing Art" Series:
In Beijing from Paris: A Post-Covid Eye Calligraphy Project

2020.9.26 - 2020.9.27

Location:  UCCA Great Hall
Language:  Chinese

From September 26, 2020 to January 17, 2021, UCCA Center for Contemporary Art presents “Immaterial/Re-material: A Brief History of Computing Art,” a wide-ranging overview of the evolution of computing art from the 1960s to the present, exploring topics that span from machine-learning aesthetics to digital objecthood and technological discontent. The exhibition defines its area of focus not simply as digital art in general, but art-making that actively engages with the algorithms and generative logics that undergird the field of computing. Curator Jerome Neutres, in collaboration with UCCA curator Ara Qiu, brings together works by 29 artists and duos, from early pioneers of computing art to leading digital practitioners, as well as emerging Chinese artists. The show’s title pays tribute to Jean-François Lyotard’s groundbreaking 1985 exhibition “Les Immatériaux,” which conceived of a new mode of materiality that echoed advances in telecommunications technology. By exploring the broad possibilities of computing art and the philosophies underpinning it, “Immaterial/Re-material” aims to write a new chapter in the history of this medium, approaching it as not simply a new media form, but as an entire artistic language.

In a traditional understanding of art, the eye observes, and appreciates. For artist Michel Paysant, however, the eye takes on a more active role in the creation. Paysant is the founder of the creative agency Eye Drawing Studio, which explores the potential of eye tracking technology—which measures the eye’s point of fixation at a given moment and its movements relative to the head—in the arts, where eye movements alone can be used to draw, paint, write, sculpt, or even compose music. Paysant’s works included in “Immaterial/Re-material,” such as Voir la guerre les yeux retournés (Guernica revisité), for which the artist used a tracker to record himself viewing Picasso’s iconic Guernica, recreating the work in real time on drafting paper with a plotter connected to a computer, provide a fine example of the applications of eye tracking.

On the exhibition’s opening weekend, Paysant will use computing technology unite the acts of seeing and creating, staging a special demonstration as he paints with his eyes in Paris, live streamed via real-time plotter in UCCA’s Great Hall.


Michel Paysant (Artist)

Michel Paysant’s (b. 1955, Bouzonville, France) research-based works straddle art and science, with a particular focus on collaborative and cooperative art practices. For many years, he has been designing polymorphic installations that establish links between art, handicraft, science, and new, advanced technologies. With a passion for classical and experimental drawing, he works with teams of scientists to develop research projects in fields as diverse as cognitive science and nanotechnology as well as more traditional techniques, such as glass blowing and weaving. These open, poetic, polyphonic, and polysemous installations aim to establish a dialogue between art and the worlds that surround it, while reflecting on the structures of techno-aesthetic devices.

Paysant’s works have been shown in many major contemporary art museums and institutions, including the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Louvre Museum, Paris; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Centraal Museum, Utrecht; Mudam Luxembourg; Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Bologna; National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare and Nouveau Musée National de Monaco.