Gazelli Art House and Verisart announce their collaborative exhibition Awaken, Metamagical Hands, highlighting pioneering artists at the intersection of human creativity and computational potential, featuring Robbie Barrat, Joshua Davis, Golan Levin, LIA, Lauren Lee McCarthy, John Maeda and Helena Sarin.

Awaken, Metamagical Hands

Awaken, Metamagical Hands displays new and never before seen works by artists who have pushed the boundaries of what can be visualised and created with code.

Working both as artists and engineers, the exhibition chronicles pivotal transitions, from writing arcane computer programs in the manner of a mathematician to today’s natural language prompts that often serve as an easy shortcut to artistry.

At a time where everyone can now awaken the computer’s metamagical hands, and get those hands to go do the human’s bidding, these works give the viewer a chance to reflect on the long journey that brought us here.

“This exhibition celebrates the completely invisible hands in both the mind of the computer and in the mind of the artist. It’s not about computer programming or about artificial intelligence. It’s about the people who have made a mark in the computational medium, and who intend to make even more marks – whether they get carved indirectly by computer programming, the new wave of AI prompts, or even with their bare hands if necessary – to bring their points to the foreground,” the artist, engineer and curator, John Maeda writes.

Through a series of conversations chaired by John Maeda across time zones and continents, these artists have come together to chronicle transformative shifts and spotlight pivotal works from the past and present.

Starting with John Maeda’s early works from the 1990s and Golan Levin’s decades-long exploration of interactive software art, the exhibition also encompasses the world of generative art with works by Joshua Davis, LIA and Helena Sarin and new physical works by Robbie Barratt and Lauren Lee McCarthy. Through a combination of digital and physical, prints, NFTs and unique works, the viewer is invited to join this journey through the eyes of artists who are also masters of the technology’s metamagical hands.

“Amid the public’s perception of the boom and bust of the NFT market and the hype and hysteria around AI, these artists look beyond current market cycles and remind us of the unwavering commitment and undeniable integrity at the heart of their art,” writes Robert Norton, CEO and Founder of Verisart.

Many of the works on display experiment with the phygital, enabling collectors to buy a digital work and then claim an artist’s print or sculpture via Verisart’s patented blockchain certification technology.

Alongside the exhibition, Gazelli Art House will host a talk in September as part of the gallery’s educational program. This session will allow for deeper insights into the creative processes behind the showcased works, and explore the implication of these new technologies on the contemporary cultural landscape.

Awaken, Metamagical Hands raises important questions about the boundaries of code as art and is bound to ignite timely and pressing conversations about the future of creativity.

“Continuing our exploration of the past and present of code and following the success of the 2023 GEN/GEN: Generative Generations exhibition in partnership with Verisart, we’re delighted to work with some of these artists for the first time while reintroducing Lauren Lee McCarthy following her GAZELL.iO residency in 2022,” writes Mila Askarova, Founder of Gazelli Art House.

About the Curators

John Maeda

John Maeda (b. 1966) is Vice President of Design and Artificial Intelligence at Microsoft. An American technologist and designer, his work merges business, design, and technology to champion the "humanist technologist." Previously, Maeda served as Chief Technology Officer of Everbridge and was President of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). He also worked as a research professor at the MIT Media Lab, advancing computational design, low-code/no-code, and creative commerce. As an artist, Maeda redefined electronic media in art by blending computer programming with traditional techniques, and pioneering interactive motion graphics on the web. His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Cartier Foundation in Paris, and he has held solo exhibitions in London, New York, and Paris.

Robert Norton

Robert Norton (b. 1972), CEO and co-founder of Verisart, brings over 25 years of experience in e-commerce and startups, with a focus on art and technology. He previously co-founded Saatchi Art and Sedition Art, securing significant funding for Saatchi Art and launching Sedition Art as a pioneering platform for art collection. Norton also held senior roles at King.com and AOL, and has a background in media distribution and journalism. He holds a Masters in Modern History from Oxford University and has curated digital art shows, including the exhibitions Art in The Age of AI in 2019 for Founders Forum and GEN/GEN: Generative Generations in 2023 at Gazelli Art House, London.

About the Artists

Robbie Barrat

Robbie Barrat (b.1999) is a Dublin-born, West Virginia-raised artist, who uses machine learning and GANs, to explore fashion, architecture, and art history, focusing on AI's interpretation of data. Barrat's art, which views AI as both a medium and a tool, has been exhibited internationally, including at the Musée de la Mode Hasselt, Ars Electronica, System Failure in San Francisco, ArtJaws in New York, and the Late Tate during the Nam June Paik show. His debut show, Infinite Skulls, was a collaboration with French painter Ronan Barrot at Avant Galerie Vossen in 2019. Initially focused on AI as both tool and subject, his recent work integrates AI into a broader creative process.

Joshua Davis

Joshua Davis (b. 1971) is an American designer, technologist, author, and visual artist in new media. Creator of praystation.com, which won the 2001 Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica, he was an early advocate of open-source software, sharing its source code publicly. Davis also contributed to the visualisation of IBM's Watson for Jeopardy. His work is in the Smithsonian's Cooper Hewitt Design Museum and was featured in the 2006 National Design Triennial. He has spoken at TED and 99U about algorithmic image-making. His art has been exhibited at venues including the Tate Modern, Ars Electronica, Design Museum London, Centre Pompidou, ICA London, and PS.1 MoMA.

Golan Levin

Golan Levin (b.1972) is a Pittsburgh-based artist and educator, active in software art since 1995. His work explores intersections of machine code, visual culture, and critical making to highlight our relationship with machines and expand human creativity. Levin’s art is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Tate London, ZKM Karlsruhe, and the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, and has been exhibited at venues like the Whitney Biennial, Victoria and Albert Museum, Ars Electronica, and ICA London. He holds degrees from MIT and has been a Professor of electronic art at Carnegie Mellon University since 2004. With Tega Brain, he co-authored Code as Creative Medium (MIT Press, 2021), a guide for creative coding educators.

LIA

LIA is an Austrian artist and pioneer in software and net art, active since 1995. Her work encompasses video, performance, software, installations, sculpture, projections, and digital applications. Using code as her primary medium, LIA creates generative artworks that blend the traditions of drawing and painting with the aesthetics of digital images and algorithms. Her minimalist works engage viewers in exploring abstract forms, movements, and colours intuitively.

John Maeda

John Maeda (b. 1966)is Vice President of Design and Artificial Intelligence at Microsoft. An American technologist and designer, his work merges business, design, and technology to champion the "humanist technologist." Previously, Maeda served as Chief Technology Officer of Everbridge and was President of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). He also worked as a research professor at the MIT Media Lab, advancing computational design, low-code/no-code, and creative commerce. As an artist, Maeda redefined electronic media in art by blending computer programming with traditional techniques, and pioneering interactive motion graphics on the web. His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Cartier Foundation in Paris, and he has held solo exhibitions in London, New York, and Paris.

Lauren Lee McCarthy

Lauren Lee McCarthy (b.1987) is an artist and programmer exploring social relationships within the contexts of surveillance, automation, and AI. Her interactive installations and performances challenge visitors to engage with themes of self-awareness and control. McCarthy's work has received numerous accolades, including the Ars Electronica Golden Nica and the Japan Media Arts Social Impact Award. She is also the creator of p5.js, an open-source art and education platform, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Processing Foundation. McCarthy is an Associate Professor at UCLA Design Media Arts.

Helena Sarin

Helena Sarin is a visual artist and software engineer known as the "engineering artist." With a background at Bell Labs and as an independent consultant in computer vision with deep learning, she blends technology with art. Initially focused on analogue mediums like watercolour and pastel, Sarin shifted her artistic focus to Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs). Her AI-generated artworks have been exhibited internationally and featured in publications like Art In America. She's a frequent speaker at ML/AI conferences and, during the 2020 lockdown, created artist books showcasing her AI art. Since 2021, Sarin has been pioneering #potteryGAN, crafting 3D ceramics inspired by her AI designs. Her work has been showcased around the world with exhibitions in Oxford, Dubai, Zurich, Shanghai, Miami and more.