How Artists Predict the Future | Melissa Chiu | TEDxPennsylvaniaAvenue

How Artists Predict the Future | Melissa Chiu | TEDxPennsylvaniaAvenue



I've never been too attached to things it might be because one Christmas morning when I was 2 years old cyclin Tracy devastated my hometown of Darwin it was the worst hurricane in Australia's history destroying nearly 70% of homes including my own my three sisters my mother and I were evacuated to Sydney leaving behind our father with many of the men of the town my mother carried only a briefcase of important documents like birth certificates and some family photos how do you represent the past when all you have are fragments it's particularly relevant standing here at the museum because it's museums that do just that they retell the past through art and objects art is often the only thing left of great civilizations and Society's art lasts and museums protect that past oddly enough my life is all about objects today I'm the director of the Hirshhorn Museum and sculpture garden a Smithsonian Institution museums began really in the 19th century transitioning from royal and court collections into much more publicly accessible institutions seen here is an image by Thomas strewth a contemporary artist who captured in photographic form visitors at the Louvre that first generation of museums in the 20th century we saw many more museums open many of them private institutions named after their founders such as the Whitney Museum or the Guggenheim Museum in New York but what does it mean to be a museum of the 21st century many museums are taking their cues from artists here you see an image of Theaster gates and his black monks of Mississippi they led a procession through the Hirshhorn galleries calling out artists names and calling attention to works it was this activation of the collection and artworks that really saw a new kind of engagement and that's what we see today museums transforming themselves from institutions that were once just collections into engaged civic spaces and its artists who are helping us think about that artists are all about ideas that's what they spend their time doing in fact when we think about where we are today it's very much an ideas economy and when we think about this transition that we're all feeling from analog to digital I often think of the cloud as an example an analogy where once we might have stored our photographs and files in a cabinet in our office or home today we store them in the cloud a thing we don't know what it looks like we don't know where it is and we certainly don't know who owns it so this is the transition from the tangible to the intangible that I think artists can really help us grapple with one of the most radical examples of this is French artist Marcel Duchamp it's hard to imagine but this work was created a hundred years ago it's called fountain he placed a ready-made as he called them factory made urinal in a gallery and called it art in this way he transformed the very definition of what it meant to be art this object was not made by it wasn't even touched by him other than the signature which was not his signature that he placed on the urinal so you can see that he opened the way for another kind of definition invert and by that another definition of creativity paving the way for an appreciation of photography as art and perhaps even beauty in the everyday one artist who always thought about the potential for technology in the future was nabbed in Peck he lived most of his life in New York in 1968 he talked of a paperless society and six years later he wrote all about the electronic superhighway then in the 1990s when President Clinton started to talk about the information superhighway namjoon said that he stole his idea and then namjoon went on to create robots to create a satellite connection between Paris and New York for an exhibition opening and many other things you see here his TV glasses that he invented in 1971 predating Google glass by many decades he was always thinking about the impact of technology on our daily lives a way way is another artist who uses technology but social media in 2008 when he learned of the sitch one earthquake and in particular the many children that were killed during this time he sent a team to do research to gather up more than the 5,000 names of all the children who died and then he put them on his blog using social media as a form of political dissent the blogs were then shut down by the Chinese government that perceived an implicit criticism of the government buildings and government contracts used to build those buildings here you see the names of all of those children that I Weiwei then transfer and into an artwork Yayoi Kusama she's 88 years old this year but in 1965 she began to create infinity mirror rooms because she wanted you to experience the cosmos in a small room made from low-tech mirrors and lights she created a virtual reality of you amongst the cosmos and here ólafur Eliason in a project known as the weather project for the Tate Modern in London many of the projects in these large industrial spaces have offered artists another kind of public engagement much greater than they would have had before and here in the weather project Eliason creates the outside environment through light and mist inside the museum it created a sense of wonder for most people who visited but the important thing was that you had to be there Oh [Laughter] you are here so am i maybe millions of people go back but they are did the P from so you just saw a project by Doug akin we commissioned him at the Hirsch on to think about a video projection and he did just that he treated the round architecture of the her Shan as a scream for projecting his video over the years others have always thought about the potential of new technology they either use Second Life to create real estate through which they saw to museums or collectors or even internet art that only existed in the Internet and here with Doug Aitken's project like a liasons of the Tate it was very much an experience you had to be there and so what can we learn from artists about being in the 21st century it's true that a lot of the images I've shown you here are about ideas and experience in many ways artists today are thinking about this very carefully in fact more so than about objects or hardware or anything like that so what of the long horizon the next generation I offer you an image here of art lab the her Sean's education program especially for teens it's a free program privately funded that allows teens to make with new forms of technology whether it's 3d printing the sound booth that we have or imaging and using new programs this creates a safe space for them to be able to experiment with new forms of technology because it is through the marriage of creativity as well as math and science that will be the skill set needed for the 21st century using museums as a resource to connect to art ideas and creativity is the profound new impact that we can have in our society thank you [Applause]

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