BOZAR exhibition catalogue - LAb[au]

BOZAR exhibition catalogue
in the context of the Young Belgian Painters Award 2009

Exhibition 25.06.09 - 13.09.09
Artists: Jeroen Hollander, Robert Kot, Caroline Pekle, LAb[au],Els Vermang
Nico Dockx, Lara Mennes, Leon Vranken

BOZAR, Palais des Beaux-Arts
10 pages about LAb[au]
ISBN 978-907481600-7

LAb[au] featured projects in the exhibition:
framework f5x5x4, kinetic light art installation
SwarmDots, generative art console
chrono.prints, computer generated prints

Illustrated projects in the catalogue:
Touch, interactive urban installation
chron.tower, permanent illumination Brussel's Dexia Tower
framework f5x5x3, kinetic light art installation
framework f5x5x1, kinetic light art installation
SwarmDots, generative art console
chrono.prints, computer generated prints
binary waves, urban cybernetic installation


the LAb[au] chapter is accompanied by:
a text of Wolf Lieser + Suzanne Massmann [DAM]Berlin gallery

about the award
Encouraging the emergence of young talents, supporting artistic approaches likely to become tomorrow's points of reference, providing a good platform for expression, these are just some of the commendable objectives pursued by the biennial Young Belgian Painters Award exhibition. A longstanding partner of the Centre for Fine Arts, the Young Belgian Painters is undertaking this exploratory work, which throws light on individual careers, artistic adventures, universes and occasionally even reveals future trends. (...) As in the past, an international panel made up of professionals from the world of art was formed to select and reward the most promising works. This year, we have been able to count on the participation of Charlotte Laubard, Director of the CAPC muse d'Art contemporain in Bordeaux; Friedrich Meschede, Head of the Department of Visual Arts at the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) in Berlin until October 2008 and now Head o f Exhibitions at the MACBA in Barcelona; Macha Roesink, Director of the De Paviljoens Museum in Almere and Yves Aupetitallot, Director of Le Magasin, the Centre national d'art contemporain in Grenoble. (...)The artists shown this year explore the contemporary art scene openly and freely, unencumbered by doctrinaire or aesthetic prejudices. Jeroen Hollander'simaginary maps of towns and fictional networks, Robert Kot's photographs of landscapes inhabited by great inner strength, Caroline Pekle's houses of cards and other images examining the notion of movement and the interactive kinetic sculptures by Els Vermang | LAb[au] all reflect remarkable artistic itineraries in which questions of an architectural, urbanistic or technological nature are posed. The work on memory has place of honour in the works of Nico Dockx and Helena Sidiropoulos, whose sources are to be found in the archives of the Centre for Fine Arts and in the photographs of workers&rsqu o; houses in Genk by Lara Mennes, while Leon Vranken finds uses for everyday objects that were never originally envisaged. (...) - Paul Dujardin, Director BOZAR


about LAb[au], Brussels

Since its foundation in 1997, the artists' group LAb[au], laboratory for architecture and urbanism, focuses on the link between art, science and advanced technologies. The group creates software art, has completed a number of large scale projects in public space and raises fundamental questions about contemporary art: what art can look like in the digital age and what impact have advanced technologies on our society, on aesthetics and on our understanding of art.
It requires courage and an open mind to broach these actual themes in the traditional art world, so the work of the LAb[au] artists can justifiably be described as avant-garde.

Taking architecture as their starting point, the members of LAb[au] conduct an artistic study into the effects of computer and communication technologies on the notion and perception of space, its representation and on possible forms of interaction with people. The words Laboratory and Bau, which inspired the group's name, embody both the artists' purpose and working method, i.e. on the one hand, research, experiment and the pursuit of new forms of expression and, on the other, the transposition and execution of these ideas and insights. The word 'Bau' refers of course to the Bauhaus. On an art-historical and conceptual level, LAb[au] is looking to link up with that tradition and also with the theories of Nicolas Schöffer, the 'father' of cybernetic art. His influence is particularly apparent in the kinetic installations Binary Waves and framework f5x5x5, both of which are based on the principle of interaction with passers-by and the mirroring of urban flows. The title of the framework f5x5x5 installation refers to the square aluminium frames composing the kinetic sculpture, but also to the patterns which underlie the generative process. Interaction can take place on several levels. While the movement principle of the sculpture is extremely complex, its consequential design is stringent.


The Touch project, which turned the 4,200 windows of the Dexia Tower in Brussels into a colourful light installation, is also based on the interaction principle. Each window could be addressed individually by means of a touchscreen, which allowed passers-by to interact in real time with the light architecture and take a snapshot of it as a record of their light composition. Touch enabled interaction between individual and public space and triggered discussion about new ways of shaping the urban space. Drawing on the constructivism of an artist like Mondrian, in this project LAb[au] started from abstract and geometric forms - point, line and surface. Another cycle organized on the Dexia Tower takes a similar starting point. Its title who's_afraid_of_RGB refers to American artist Barnett Newman's abstract colour composition. A project within the cycle is conceived as a chronometer and relates light to time, whereby the increase and decrease of light reflects the time of day.

The artworks always take coding as their starting point. As well as projects in the urban space, LAb[au] develops generative art for indoor spaces, like the sculpture SwarmDots. It consists of four computers integrated into a T-shaped Plexiglas column in such a way that the hardware is fully visible and part of the artwork. The screens run a generative software programme which deals with the behaviour of swarms. The unveiled and aesthetic treatment of the work's technical components gives the software object an extra dimension and is very unusual in the art world.

LAb[au] consists of Manuel Abendroth, Jérôme Decock, Alexandre Plennevaux and Els Vermang, who together develop and execute projects and artworks. Unlike the traditional, more hierarchical system - a star and a team of collaborators, as for example with Jeff Koons and Olafur Eliasson - the four members work together on an equal footing. In their collaboration with other artists, which sometimes embraces the fields of music and dance, they are constantly developing new interdisciplinary projects.
Susanne Maßmann, [DAM] Berlin

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