January 5, 2023

V&A’s acquisition of Sougwen Chung’s work MEMORY featured in Outland

In an in-depth article and interview with the V&A Museum's digital art curator Pita Arreola, the topic of collecting contemporary digital art is discussed, with the recent acquisition of Sougwen Chung's work MEMORY, serving as an example of hybrid collecting.

"The same questions come up when collecting contemporary digital art. You see it a lot in the NFT scene, with some people selling live code and others selling screenshots of the running code. At the V&A, the most recent acquisition we’ve finalized is a work entitled MEMORY (Drawing Operations Unit Generation 2), 2017–22, by Sougwen Chung, a Chinese-Canadian artist, researcher, and coder. Over the years she has programmed and built a series of AI-driven robots, using recurrent neural networks to “teach” the robots to mimic her own hand-drawn gestures. For Chung, the core of the artwork is the performance of the robot itself. We couldn’t collect the robotic arm used in MEMORY, because it’s still part of her artistic practice, so we had to think about how to acquire the piece in a way that would be meaningful for audiences now and into the future. As a museum, we want to collect works so that people can interact with all aspects of the software and the experience. That’s where hybrid collecting comes in. For MEMORY, we collected a print of a drawing made as part of a performance, a video where the artist explains how she created the work, a model of the neural network, and also a 3D-printed sculpture made using the same neural network."

Read the full article here.

December 20, 2022

V&A Museum Collects MEMORY (D.O.U.G._2)

The Victoria & Albert Museum has acquired my project MEMORY, created with Drawing Operations Unit: Generation 2 (D.O.U.G._2). 

MEMORY consists of an RNN (Recurrent Neural Network) model contained within a newly designed and developed 3D-printed sculptural casing, as well as a fine art print. The RNN model is the first artefact of its kind to be acquired by a cultural institution.

The model contains the MEMORY (D.O.U.G. 2) dataset, and is encapsulated in a newly designed and developed 3D-printed sculptural casing, made of clear resin, which deteriorates over time, much like data. 

Read the interview with me by Katherine Mitchell on the @vamuseum blog

Among the questionable uses of AI models I'm pleased to be able to chart a path with the support of @vamuseum, MEMORY (w D.O.U.G._2) being the first AI model to be collected by a major institution.

Foregrounding the evolution of the artists hand and recognizing the necessity of balance between technology and tradition in all fields, especially arts and culture.

Thank you to the @vamuseum and my team @studioscilicet
and co-director @tessanydam in seeing this historic acquisition through.

Thank you to @carlajrapo@lumen_prize, Melanie Lenz and Pita Arreola for supporting the practice and recognizing the work of artists in this still-emerging field.

More thoughts to come as always.

Sougwen 愫君 Chung is a Chinese-Canadian artist and researcher. Chung is the founder and artistic director of ⇢ SCILICET, a studio exploring human & non-human collaboration.

A former research fellow at MIT’s Media Lab, Sougwen is considered a pioneer in the field of human-machine collaboration – exploring the mark-made-by-hand and the mark-made-by-machine as an approach to understanding the dynamics of humans and systems. 

— Sougwen 愫君 Chung is a Chinese-born, Canadian-raised artist & (re)searcher based in London / New York / Hong Kong.

— Sougwen 愫君 Chung is a Chinese-born, Canadian-raised artist & (re)searcher based in London / New York / Hong Kong.

— Sougwen 愫君 Chung is a Chinese-born, Canadian-raised artist & (re)searcher based in London / New York / Hong Kong.

Copyright Sougwen Chung