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Ian Burns in 'New Romance: art and the posthuman'


  • Museum of Contemporary Art Australia 40 George Street Sydney, NSW, 2000 Australia (map)

Ian Burns, Blender, 2014, hacked keyboard, lamps, magnifiers, blender, dish soap, pillows, strapping, found furniture, timing system, installation dimensions variable, image courtesy and © the artist, photo: David Lawrey

New Romance: art and the posthuman brings together artists from Australia and Korea whose works encourage us to ask what it means to be human today, and what it might mean in the future. Drawing inspiration from science fiction, robotics, biotechnology, consumer products and social media, they offer experiences that raise questions around the idea of the posthuman; a concept that signals new understandings of humanity and a breakdown of boundaries between what we think of as natural and artificial.

Born across five decades, from the 1940s to the 1980s, the artists employ an eclectic array of technologies in their works. These technologies range from the highly specialised to the mass-produced and are used to create everything from crossbred cacti and LED books to dancing robots and a pneumatically powered blender designed to mix human biomaterials. The thread linking these diverse artworks is an exploration of new kinds of encounters, not only among technologically connected humans but also between so-called ‘intelligent’ objects, plants, animals and all manner of hybrid entities.

The artists also reflect on issues such as hyper-consumerism and alternative futures; inviting us to consider how our relationship with the natural world is changing, through our increased ability to alter our environment and through the threat of ecological apocalypse. Several of the artists take on the role of inventor or even mad scientist; experimenting with living organisms, building strange machines and constructing artificial worlds. Some investigate how our emotions are triggered when interacting with kinetic objects, while others try to see the world from a nonhuman perspective.

Raising more questions than answers, their curious and inventive works make us wonder what the future may hold.

Artists: Rebecca Baumann, Ian Burns, Hayden Fowler, Siyon Jin, Airan Kang, Sanghyun Lee, Soyo Lee, Wade Marynowsky, Moon Kyungwon & Jeon Joonho, Patricia Piccinini & Peter Hennessey, Kibong Rhee, Justin Shoulder, Giselle Stanborough, Stelarc & Nina Sellars, Wonbin Yang

Curators: Anna Davis (MCA) and Houngcheol Choi, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA).

New Romance: art and the posthuman is presented in association with the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea.