Working with video game software and CGI animation, London-based artist Lawrence Lek merges real places with virtual worlds to look at how humans interact with AI and how digital images alter our experiences in the real world. He explores worldbuilding, the creative approach of crafting entire fictional worlds, as a form of collage, incorporating elements from the materials and virtual worlds to develop narratives of alternate histories and possible futures. Lek’s Grand Prix-winning work, Black Cloud (2021), revolves around a conversation between an urban AI system designed to surveil a city that has been abandoned and their built-in therapist, seemingly the product of their own mind. By setting the dialogue within the ruins of the fictional smart city of SimBeijing, the video continues Lek’s exploration of the psychological impact of technological landscapes.
THE VH AWARD: Artist Interview – Lawrence Lek
Director, The Whitworth, University of Manchester
Lee is a director of the Whitworth at The University of Manchester. She curated Nam June Paik at Tate Modern in 2019 with Rudolf Frieling, which was on tour to institutions in Europe, USA, and Asia until early 2022. She has also curated several collection exhibitions and displays at Tate Modern, including A Year in Art: Australia 1992 (2021-23), CAMP: From Gulf to Gulf to Gulf (2019-20) and Xiao Lu and Niki de Saint Phalle (2018-19). Lee was previously Exhibitions & Displays Curator at Tate Liverpool and curated a number of exhibitions and collection displays including Doug Aitken: The Source and Thresholds (2012-13, as part of Liverpool Biennial).
Lee was a Senior Curator of International Art. Since 2019 she has led the’ Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational’ and the Artistic Director of the 14th Gwangju Biennale in 2023. She also served as the Commissioner and Curator of the Korean Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale (2015). Lee has convened and participated in several international symposiums and conferences at the Tate and internationally, including From Alexandria to Tokyo: Art, Colonialism and Entangled Histories (Digital conference with Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2020), Axis of Solidarity: Landmarks, Platforms, Futures (Tate Modern, 2019), and Territories Disrupted: Asian Art after 1989 (National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Korea, 2017). She has also written and lectured widely on modern and contemporary art, and her publications include Nam June Paik (with Rudolf Frieling, exhibition catalogue, Tate Publishing, 2019) and MOON Kyungwon & JEON Joonho (exhibition catalogue, Korean Pavilion, Venice Biennale, 2015).
Independent Curator & Critic
Christopher Phillips is an independent curator and critic based in New York City. He is a board member of Asia Art Archive in America, and a contributing editor of the magazine Art in America. He teaches courses on the history and theory of photography and media art at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University.
From 2000 to 2016 he was a curator at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York. He has organized many exhibitions that examine
contemporary Asian photography and media art. These exhibitions include Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China (2004, co curated with Wu Hung); Atta Kim: On-Air (2006); Shanghai Kaleidoscope (2008); Heavy Light: Recent Photography and Video from Japan (with Noriko Fuku, 2008); Wang Qingsong: When Worlds Collide (2011); Han Youngsoo: Photographs of Seoul 1956-63 (2016); Life and Dreams: Contemporary Chinese Photography and Media Art (2018); and Zheng Guogu: Photoworks 1993-2016 (2019).
Curator, Executive Director of Eyebeam
Roderick Schrock is a curator and arts executive. Since 2015, Schrock has been the Executive Director of Eyebeam in New York City, an institution dedicated to supporting art that engages technology. There, he manages the functional capacities of the organization’s direct artist support and guides its focus on supporting work that aims to realign societal relationships to emergent technologies. He received an MFA from Mills College and currently teaches in the Curatorial Practice MA Program at the School of Visual Arts and has taught at the Studio for Electro-Instrumental Music (STEIM), California College of the Arts, and New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. He sits on the Netherlands America Foundation Cultural Committee and is a founding board member of Art+Feminism.
He has been an active practitioner in digital and sound art, living and working in Japan and continuing studies in the Netherlands. He has served on, and nominated for, local and international art award committees. His essays have been published by MIT Press, and he writes regularly for online publications, such as Hyperallergic. He has previously written for New Music Box, Fucking Good Art, and e/i Magazine. As a sound artist, Schrock has been commissioned by Meet the Composer, the American Music Center, The Netherlands America Foundation, and Ostrava New Music Days, among others.
Director, Museum MACAN
Aaron Seeto is the Director of Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara (Museum MACAN) since 2016. He has experience with working to advance the goals of contemporary arts organizations and curating significant exhibitions for artists from Asia to Pacific regions.
Seeto was formerly a Curatorial Manager of Asian and Pacific Art, at Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane, Australia where he led the curatorial team at the eighth Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT8) in 2015. For eight years prior, he was the Director of Sydney’s ground-breaking 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art.
Director, Curatorial, Collections and programmes, Singapore Art Museum
Dr. June Yap is Director of Curatorial, Collections and Programs at the Singapore Art Museum, where she oversees content creation and museum programming.
Her prior roles include Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator (South and Southeast Asia), Deputy Director and Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, and curator at the Singapore Art Museum. Amongst exhibitions she has curated are: They Do Not Understand Each Other co-curated with Yuka Uematsu from National Museum of Art, Osaka, at Tai Kwun Contemporary; No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia as part of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative; The Cloud of Unknowing at the 54th Venice Biennale with artist Ho Tzu Nyen; The Future of Exhibition: It Feels Like I’ve Been Here Before at the Institute of Contemporary Arts(Singapore); Paradise is Elsewhere at Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (Germany); media art exhibitions Interrupt and Twilight Tomorrow at the Singapore Art Museum. She is the author of Retrospective: A Historiographical Aesthetic in Contemporary Singapore and Malaysia (2016).