Interacting at Art Brussels

It took me a while to sort our my impressions from Art Brussels’10, I guess, the largest art fair I’ve been to so far. Two hundreds of galleries, thousands of artists, many thousands of guests, all that art load overwhelms you very quickly. The place was huge too, two large halls in the Brussels Expo Centre, near the famous Atomium. I first expected to see everything in just one day, but that was a total nonsense, of course, so I came there second time, and even spending two full days at the fair I think I barely scratched the (art) surface.

At Summ()n we always emphasize how important art is in exploring the possible futures: it inspires, it provokes, it kicks you off the beaten tracks of perception and thinking. There were a lot of examples of such ‘art works’ (with ‘works’ as a verb). I will refer to just a few here, simply for the sake of space/time limitations (as always, I put many of the pictures I took there to my Flickr: Art Brussels’10); also, I selected only more or less ‘interactive’ pieces.

UK-based rAndom International presented their recent installation called Audience; it is a system of interactive mirrors reacting to the presence of people in ‘their’ space. In the absence of us, people, the mirrors ‘talk’ to each other, in a lovely cute way, turing their heads and demonstrating all kinds of other ‘acts of social behavior’. I hope to make a short movie about this installation a bit later.

Large-scale installation by Dutch artist Peter de Cupere was not, perhaps, very interactive, but it was massively, overwhelmingly multi-sensorial; very smelly, to be precise. Peter often calls himself a ‘scent artist’, and tries to embed a usually deprived presence of smell into his works. This artwork consisted of a few small rooms, combined into one slightly claustrophobic maze, and each room had it’s own distinctive aroma. For examples, the Smoke room was full of heavy, well, cigarette smell; I don’t know the exact chemistry involved, but I felt suffocating very quickly.

Small and nice installation Pneuma, by Spanish artist Daniel Canogar reminded how to create truly magical experience using very simple materials and technologies. I made a small video showing at least some of the vibrance radiated by this piece. I remember seeing his large and provocative photographs in the Laboral art and technology center, in Xion, and of course his name is now widely known in Europe because of the beautiful installation displayed in the European Parliament . Daniel has a very informative website, where all his earlier works presented and explained.

There were few more interesting installations, somewhat hinting to the interactivity and involvement, like this one above; however, it was too fragile to touch, and there was no artist or a galleries to explain, so its meaning remains enigmatic for me; may be, for the better.

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