Exclusive Interview featuring Honor Harger, ArtScience Museum

Since February 2011, the ArtScience museum is the first and presently the only museum in the world that brings all disciplines in both Art and Science under one roof.

‘At ArtScience museum, we are interested in the interconnection among Arts, Sciences and Technology. Innovation colliding to present new ideas in sciences and arts, and to encourage more interdisciplinary work. Our main interest is what happens when Art and Science come together,’ said Honor Harger, the Executive Director of ArtScience Museum.

The museum has already held several excellent exhibitions to showcase the close inter-relationship between the two disciplines. A prime example was the showcase of Leonardo da Vinci’s six paintings and 26 original pages of the Codex Atlanticus in the region for the first time in year 2015. Leonardo was an expert in human anatomy and his artistic talent was the first to offer contemporary dialogue to Medical Science.

Geometry and material science are among the few jigsaw pieces to bring new looks, new trends and to introducing a new religion to the fashionistas. Creativity is then the connectivity to bridge the use of materials in different sizes and shapes to Art.

‘More artists will be integrating technology in their artworks. At the most recent ArtScience event – Prudential Eye Awards, one of the nominees Zhang Wei, made a showcase of artworks which is an excellent example of digital technology and art,’ said Honor.

Zhang Wei, a photographer and digital artist in China, is showcasing his artwork at the Prudential Eye Exhibition 2016: Artificial Theater, portraits of politician leaders. His artworks are original, and the progress to producing each photograph is an unusual approach. Zhang Wei knowledge-transferred a Japanese 3-D dating technology to build portraits of leaders in politics using composite images and collaging techniques.

Hundreds of head shots were taken from a randomized population, and a highly correlated segment of a selected photograph was then matched to the original features of the person of interest. Together with numerous tiny pieces, a facial feature, the neck, the hair, and the hairline were pieced together to form a portrait (100 x 80 cm), e.g. Aung San Suu Ky, President of the National League for Democracy in Myanmar, and Valdimir Putin, President of Russia.

Prudential Eye Awards Exhibition, Artificial Theatre series by Zhao Wei

‘It is very uncanny. And if you were to have a look at the pictures, it seems, ‘Okay, they look real… but just a little bit off. And when you know the story of how they were made, it’s quite uncanny,” Honor described her experience when she was part of the seven judges for the Prudential Eye Awards.

There are also emerging artists who incorporates tech parts to create sculptures. Another nominee of the Prudential Eye Awards, Promotesh Das artist from Bangladesh had used circuitry from computers as a scaffold to create sculptures of war equipments covered with small flowers of the Shola Plant. Rather to resemble violence, struggle and conflict, Promotesh reinvented the war equipments into sculpture beauty with the aid of computer chip and small flowers.

Prudential Eye Awards Exhibition, series of sculptures by Promotesh Das

‘Artists are always experimenting on new things and to creating new work. They are at the fore-front in design and to designing new products.’

‘In this year’s Prudential Eye Awards, really what we were looking for is the 15 strongest artists in their categories; we were not looking for a specific theme or particular concerns in the work. So the fact that this year, unusually, we ended up with these very interesting connections between the works and these themes that just ran through the show quite naturally around a deep concern for the environment and the way industrialization was changing our environment…and this sort of quite strong but subtle underpinning of concern with conflict and war, ‘ Honor said.

Sareth Svay, the winner of Prudential Eye Awards presented the warning house and black sandals. The two installations are representations of Cambodians’ memory imprints. Their nation’s economic struggle, political conflicts and social concerns.

‘When I first started out as a curator, the art and technology/digital art space was very niche and quite ignored by institutions that considered it very specialized, but now that’s not the case at all. I think we have a more comprehensive cross-over of practice from this “niche to main” and to a much more mainstream discourse. .

Another thing that is changing is the explosion of the art market and this emergence of art fairs as a global phenomenon – we had a very important one here in Singapore – Art Stage – that took place a few weeks ago.. And As an institution, as a museum – this is something that we have to be mindful of, but also thoughtful of how we can create other conversations. The art market is driving conversations around the commercial sale of work, and I think the role of a museum – particularly one which has a mandate to look at the intersection between art and other fields like science and technology – we need to take a step back from that and think about what are some of the other kind of the conversations within contemporary art that are important, the way that artists might impact the real world with climate scientists for instance.”

At ArtScience museum, Honor has about 50 professions who not only work at the museum, but also who are fond of learning and to share the stories to their visitors. ‘There are times that we have to work through the night, and especially in preparation of upcoming exhibitions, and work is not considered done until the exhibition ends. There is no structured routine work really.’

The ArtScience has held exhibitions including Annie Leibovitz’s photography works, Hermes ‘Leather Forever’, etc. Current exhibitions include: Prudential Eye Awards, and an ongoing once a month ArtScience late night performance. Upcoming exhibition: Van Cleef & Arpels: The Art of Science of Gems (April 23 to August 14, 2016) by Van Cleef and Arpels.

Honor Harger Executive Director ArtScience Museum

About Honor Harger
Executive Director
ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands

Honor Harger is the Executive Director for ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands. A curator from New Zealand, she has a strong interest in artistic uses of technologies and in science as part of culture. Honor brings with her over 15 years of experience of working at the intersection between art, science and technology. She is responsible for charting the overall direction and strategy for ArtScience Museum.

Prior to joining Marina Bay Sands, she was the artistic director of Lighthouse in Brighton, United Kingdom, from 2010 to 2014. In that role, Honor curated projects which showed the cultural impact of scientific ideas, such as Laboratory Life, Invisible Fields and Solar System. She also organised exhibitions by artists such as Trevor Paglen, Timo Arnall and David Blandy, commissioned new work by Semiconductor, Hide&Seek, The Otolith Group and James Bridle, and co-founded Brighton Digital Festival.

Through her career, Honor has held several key appointments in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia, and has curated many international exhibitions and events around the world. From 2009-2010 she was guest curator of Transmediale, an international festival of art and digital culture in Berlin. From 2004–2008, she was the director of the AV Festival, the UK’s largest biennial of media art, film and music. She was the first webcasting curator for Tate Modern in London from 2000-2003, where she also curated events and concerts on art and technology. Honor has also worked for Radio One and Artspace in New Zealand, and the Australian Network for Art and Technology in Australia.

Honor’s artistic practice is produced under the name r a d i o q u a l i a, which is a collaboration with Adam Hyde. One of their main projects was Radio Astronomy, a radio station broadcasting sounds from space.

Honor has lectured widely including at the conferences TED, and LIFT, as well as at the European Space Agency, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, California Institute of the Arts and the American Film Institute.

Source: NaoRococo and ArtScience

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