Holyfire - LAb[au]

Holy Fire, art of the digital age

curated by Yves Bernard & Domenico Quaranta
April 18 - 30, 2008
iMAL Center for Digital Cultures and Technology
Brussels, Belgium

PixFlow #2, generative art console

Featured artists: Cory Arcangel (USA), Gazira Babeli (SL), Boredomresearch (UK), Christophe Bruno (FR), Gregory Chatonsky (FR), Miguel Chevalier (FR), Vuk Cosic (SLO), Shane Hope (USA), Jodi (BE/NL), LAb[au] (BE), Joan Leandre (SP), Olia Lialina & Dragan Espenschied (RU/DE), Golan Levin (USA), Eva and Franco Mattes aka 0100101110101101.ORG (IT), Alison Mealey (UK), Mark Napier (USA), Casey Reas (USA), Charles Sandison (UK/FI), Antoine Schmitt (FR), Yacine Sebti (BE), Alexei Shulgin & Aristarkh Chernyshev (RU), John F. Simon, Jr. (USA), Paul Slocum (USA), Wolfgang Staehle (USA), Eddo Stern (USA), Ubermorgen.com (AT), Carlo Zanni (IT)

Holyfire exhibition

iMAL, Center for Digital Cultures and Technology presents Holy Fire. Art of the Digital Age, a collective exhibition featuring a unique panel of digital artworks created in the last ten years by internationally known new media artists, and coming from galleries and collections from around the world. Curated by iMAL director Yves Bernard and Italian curator Domenico Quaranta, Holy Fire is, in fact, featured into the "Off Program" of Art Brussels, the international contemporary art fair (April 18 - 21, 2008). Taking its cue from this occasion, Holy Fire is an attempt to explore how new media art, bypassing all the stereotypes connected with its presumed immateriality, was able to enter the art market. --->


Thus, Holy Fire is probably the first exhibition to show only collectable media artworks already on the art market, in the form of traditional media (prints, videos, sculptures) or customized media objects. The exhibition wants to show that new media art is just art of this century, to contribute to reduce the gap between digital art and contemporary art, and to participate in a broader understanding and acceptance of digital media. Holy Fire comes out from the belief that talking about a "new media art" as something different and separated from the contemporary art world doesn't really make sense today. All contemporary art is, someway, new media art, as far as it makes use of the digital media for various purposes. So, the artworks collected in Holy Fire are not new media art, but simply art of our time: art which appropriates institutional or corporate identities, creates fictional ones, hacks softwares and game engines for its own purposes, infiltrates online or offline communities in order to portray them or their own myths, subverts existing tools or creates its own ones, explores the aesthetics of computation and information spaces; or, more simply, art which uses hardware and software in order to create art and speak about our time.

Over the last two decades, new media art experienced an exponential growth, that changed it from a little and relatively closed niche of experimentation into one of the biggest and more vital communities of the contemporary scene, and into an entirely new "art world", with its own festivals, its own exhibition centers, its own magazines and debates. Yet, this increasing importance is hardly ever recognized in the contemporary art world, which is challenged by new media art in many ways. New media art is often immaterial, temporary, performative; it strongly relies on software and interfaces, and produce hardly sellable artifacts, with a high obsolescence risk in supporting equipment. So, it's always difficult to find new media art in contemporary art venues and collections. In the meantime, many artists are fighting to find more stable layouts for their works, in the effort to bring new media culture in the contemporary art arena; and some brave individuals and institutions are starting collecting new media, knowing that its importance in the future could only grow up. With the accelerated technological development (e.g. large flat screens, powerful beamers, --->


ubiquitous computing, wifi, fast internet) and the sociological and cultural acceptance of digital tools and media, new media art is going to become one of the main currents of 21th century art, looking at its own nexus to our techno-environment as a strength (not deafness), and to be part of our everyday life in our office, in public buildings as well as in our home.

The title of the exhibition is a reference to a well-known book by Bruce Sterling, a book which, among other issues, envision the art of the (at that time, future) digital age. In the same time, the issue makes reference to the passion that helps a growing number of people (artists, curators, gallery owners and collectors) to take care of an art that is temporary and variable by definition.


Bitforms, New York; [DAM]Berlin gallery; Fabio Paris Art Gallery, Brescia; Numeriscausa, Paris; Postmasters, New York; Project Gentili, Prato; Rodolphe Jannen gallery, Brussels; XL Gallery, Moscow.


This exhibition is produced by iMAL Center for Digital Cultures and Technology, and generously funded by LIEDEKERKE.WOLTERS.WAELBROECK.KIRKPATRICK and DEXIA . It is supported by: the Minister-President of the Government of the French-Speaking Community of Belgium; the Minister of Culture and Audiovisual of the French-Speaking Community of Belgium; the Ministery of the French-Speaking Community of Belgium (Digital Art Section and Department for Plastic Arts); the Brussels Capital Region; and the College of Burgomaster and Deputies of the Municipality of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean.

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