Lumen Art Prize - Leeds International Festival
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Lumen Art Prize

Leeds International Festival 17 28 – 30 April 2017

Lumen Arts Prize took place from the 28th-30th April in the inaugural Leeds International Festival, back in 2017. As well as featuring the 2016 Lumen Prize tour, the partnership event included talks, workshops and evening events.

The Lumen Prize for Art and Technology celebrates the very best in art create with technology, from across the world. Launched in 2012, the prize celebrates this technologically-engineered art through its global competition, as well as through events and exhibitions held around the globe. The annual competition draws entries from across the world, and to date has given away more than $70,000 in prize money!

Lumen Art Projects is a not-for-profit based in the UK. They are dedicated to assisting and providing opportunities for artists who work their art through technologies. Lumen Art Projects link to cultural venues, festivals and institutions across the world.

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The 2017 Lumen Arts Prize exhibited the shortlisted nominees at various locations throughout Leeds Dock, creating immersive, interactive and ultimately award-winning exhibits that blurred that fine line dividing technology, art, sound and audience participation.

The 2016 works on display included the Gold-winning Hyperplanes of Simultaneity, by Fabio Giampietro and Alessio De Vecchi. This is a work in which the relationship, continuity and simultaneity between the three spatial dimensions becomes almost tangible, as the barriers of art come crashing down. Instead of standing in front of a traditional, framed work of art, the viewer is invited into its world, experiencing the art’s newly-abandoned boundaries from within.

Credit: Hyperplanes of Simultaneity, by Fabio Giampietro
Hyperplanes of Simultaneity, by Fabio Giampietro

Both the Lumen Prize and Lumen Arts Project were masterminded and founded by Carla Rapoport. Previously a financial journalist, she moved into arts management in 2010.

Rapoport’s goal is to make the enjoyment of art more broadly accessible, as well as widening the understanding and appreciation of art created by technology. This thus widens the opportunities for artists working in this genre internationally.

Since the first Lumen show, held in Cork Street in London, in 2013, Lumen has staged over 45 exhibitions in venues across the world, including in Asia, Europe and the US. They have also curated seminars, workshops and lectures. Working with a wide range of partners (which in this instance was happily the Leeds International Festival), Lumen have created amazing opportunities for artists, as well as for audiences – they encourage more people to see and understand what this genre of art can offer, as well as creating the opportunity for artists to receive new commissions, acquisitions, exhibitions and speaking engagements.

The winners of Leeds’ 2017 Lumen Arts Prize created art with a strongly political tone. Many reflected upon big political events, as well as the growing anxiety around our impact on the environment. The top prize, for the first time, was taken by an interactive work of art!

Plastic Reflectic by Thijs Biersteker was the piece that won gold in the 2017 prize, and its truly resonant, entertaining and educating nature somewhat redefined what we expect from art, illustrating the way that this technologically-inspired genre can shift and rewrite boundaries.

The installation was interactive, bringing the ‘plastic soup’ plaguing our oceans to life, on a small and relatable scale. It illustrated that an individual’s plastic use behaviour can truly wreak an influence on our oceans – keeping plastic out of the oceans means keeping it out of our foodchain, preventing nanoplastics from entering our bodies. Spanning that space between comprehensible science and ‘magic’, the work was captivating, offering viewers an interactive agency (the plastics responded to their movements), and showed the audience just what is accessible, both intellectually and technologically, as well as heavily underlining its environmental message.

The other works on show at Leeds Dock included ANIMA, O. T. 875 and Nature Abstraction. Lumen’s founder Carla Rapoport also took part in the Digital Art Debate, held at the Tetley on April 28th, alongside the exhibited 2016 Lumen prize Gold Award winner Fabio Giampietro.