Mon, Apr 10|
THE LIU SHIMING ARTIST BLAIR SIMMONS: USELESS MACHINES, A CURATED STUDENT SHOW
Pieces displayed in this group exhibition were devised by students enrolled in Blair Simmons’ class Useless Machines at NYU’s ITP/IMA programs. The co-curators of this show (shuang cai, Leia Chang, and Julia Margaret Lu) are graduate assistants working with Simmons.
Time & Location
Apr 10, 11:00 AM – Apr 15, 11:30 AM
TheBLANC Gallery, 15 E 40th St STE 200, 2nd FL, New York, NY 10016, USA
About the event
Useless Machines, a curated student show
Artists | Andie Yujeong Han, angelo, Anna Ren, Cecilia Yiyue Chen 陈谊玥, Chunyi Yang, Cole Sebastian, Isabelle Rieken. Jiayi Tan, Julia Margaret Lu, Kathryn Lee, Kyle Chang, Leia Chang, Luna Chen, Qihan Jiang, Ryan Han, Saira Puri, Samantha Kimura, shuang cai & Rockey Ke, Suda Zhao, Wanting Mao, Yuhanxiao (Maggie) Ma, Zihan Liu, Ziyuan Lin
Curators | Lead Curator: Blair Simmons; Co-curators: shuang cai, Leia Chang, Julia Margaret Lu
On View | 11:00 am – 5:00 pm, 4/10 – 21
Address | TheBLANC Gallery, 15 E 40th ST, 2nd FL, New York, NY 10016
About the exhibition
Pieces displayed in this group exhibition were devised by students enrolled in Blair Simmons’ class Useless Machines at NYU’s ITP/IMA programs. The co-curators of this show (shuang cai, Leia Chang, and Julia Margaret Lu) are graduate assistants working with Simmons. The class, dedicated to redefining “usefulness”, has evolved from Simmons’ artistic research and practice, and now invites students to delve into the concept of utility on an ideological, political, and historical level.
Simmons’ 2022 projects, “Failure Fountain” and “Portrait of the Artist from Ages 16-21,” though undoubtedly distinct in appearance, are both engaged in seemingly futile exercises. “This series of pieces,” writes Simmons, “is both critical of, and dependent on technology, mirroring the ways technology can be a solution to my chronic pain, and the source of the pain itself.”
In “Useless Machines,” they all together explore the notion of “uselessness” in machines and how these machines often fall short of, or defy their intended purpose or desired outcome. What unites these machines is their failure to conform to the expectations of what they are “supposed to do,” their disruptive nature, and their tendency to misbehave.
But what is a machine “supposed to do”? Who decides what qualifies as useful or useless? To whom or what must the machine be useful?
These questions are at the core of Useless Machines’ inquiry, as students play with definitions and explore the potential of "useless" objects to be humorous, critical, and even, at times, efficient. They study examples of “useless” machines, which provokes conversations and disagreements around the implications of existing and emerging technologies. Students designed their own “useless” machines for the class’s final projects, which are now on display for all to see. These pieces are aiming to encourage viewers to question the very nature of utility and the role it plays in people’s lives.
Lead curator / Blair Simmons
Blair Simmons is one of the latest recipients of the Liu Shiming Art Grant, and she allocates the entirety of the award fund towards this exhibition, in which her former students showcase their artworks to a broader audience. Simmons aspires to be a teaching artist as generous as Liu Shiming, sharing ideas, research, and multicultural conversations with students in a meaningful way.
Simmons is also a queer and anxious artist, researcher, storyteller, and technician working with multiple mediums. She is currently teaching at the Interactive Media Arts and Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University. Her interest in creation resides in logic, language, structures, pain, patterns, maps, math, arrows, analysis, arches, queerness, bodies, failure, uselessness, organics, and opposites. Her research materializes as objects and performances which have been performed at the likes of Pioneer Works, La Mama’s CultureHub, Wordhack at Babycastles, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She has publications in PARtake, The Scotsman, USA Today, The Guardian, etc.
Julia Margaret Lu (she/her) is a multidisciplinary designer with a background in architecture. Her strongest and weakest quality is being interested in l-i-t-e-r-a-l-l-y everything.
Leia is a new media artist and creative technologist based in Brooklyn. Currently a student at NYU ITP, they are focused on using both traditional and New media to explore alternative interfaces and interactive entertainment, as well as embodying and investigating the complexities of cultural identities in second-generation immigration.
Shuang is a multimedia artist, creative technologist, and curator born in Beijing and currently based in NYC. Their art practice is often concerned with to philosophy, logic, interactions, and interpersonal dynamics. Their curatorial practice repeatedly develops from interdisciplinary approaches and cross-cultural references.
The exhibition is sponsored and supported by the Liu Shiming Art Foundation