Lawrence Lek



CGI film, 2017. Courtesy of the artist.

“If I had hands I would be a sculptor. If I had a voice I would sing. If I had a soul I would pray. But all I have is my mind’s eye, so I dream of worlds.”

Geomancer is a CGI film by Lawrence Lek about the creative awakening of artificial intelligence. On the eve of Singapore's 2065 Centennial, an adolescent satellite AI escapes its imminent demise by coming down to Earth, hoping to fulfil its dream of becoming the first AI artist. Faced with a world that limits its freedom, Geomancer must come to terms with its militarised origins, a search that begins with a mysterious group of AIs known as the Sinofuturists...

Rendered in HD with Unreal Engine video game software, and featuring a neural network-generated dream sequence and a synthesised vocaloid soundtrack, Geomancer explores the implications of post-human consciousness.

Commissioned for the 2017 Jerwood/FVU Award. The soundtrack is available for limited edition USB card and digital download via the Eternal Dragonz label.

"Sinofuturism (1839 - 2046 AD)"

Film, 2016. Courtesy of the artist.

"Sinofuturism" is an invisible movement. A spectre already embedded into a trillion industrial products, a billion individuals, and a million veiled narratives. It is a movement, not based on individuals, but on multiple overlapping flows. Flows of populations, of products, and of processes. Because Sinofuturism has arisen without conscious intention or authorship, it is often mistaken for contemporary China. But it is not. It is a science fiction that already exists.

"Sinofuturism" is a video essay combining elements of science fiction, documentary melodrama, social realism, and Chinese cosmologies, in order to critique the present-day dilemmas of China and the people of its diaspora. With reference to Afrofuturism and Gulf Futurism, Sinofuturism presents a critical and playful approach to subverting cultural clichés. In Western media and Orientalist perceptions, China is exotic, strange, bizarre, kitsch, tacky, or cheap. In its domestic media, China portrayed as heroic, stable, historic, grand, and unified. Rather than counteract these skewed narratives, Sinofuturism proposes to push them much further. By embracing seven key stereotypes of Chinese society (Computing, Copying, Gaming, Studying, Addiction, Labour and Gambling), it shows how China's technological development can be seen as a form of Artificial Intelligence.

The work was initially broadcast as part of Radio Study Day at Wysing Arts Centre, 21 August 2016. Thanks to: Joni Zhu, Steve Goodman, Gary Zhexi Zhang, Deforrest Brown, Samantha Culp, Justin Kim, Stephanie Bailey, Alvin Li,, After Us, Film & Video Umbrella, UCCA, Wysing Arts Centre. Chinese Subtitles by Wenfei Wang for “The New Normal”, an exhibition at UCCA, Beijing.

Lawrence Lek (b. 1982, Frankfurt am Main) is a simulation artist based in London. He creates site-specific virtual worlds and speculative films using gaming software, 3D animation, installation and performance. By rendering real places within fictional scenarios, his digital environments reflect the impact of the virtual on our perception of reality.

Lek studied at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, Architectural Association, London, and The Cooper Union, New York. Recent exhibitions include: Hyperpavilion, Venice Biennale (2017; The New Normal, UCCA, Beijing (2017); Glasgow International, Tramway, Glasgow (2016); SeMA Biennale Mediacity Seoul 2016, Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul (2016); Missed Connections, Julia Stoschek Collection, Düsseldorf (2016); Secret Surface, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2016); Software, Hard Problem, Cubitt Gallery, London (2015); and The Uncanny Valley, Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge (2015).

He received the 2017 Jerwood/FVU Award, the 2015 Dazed Emerging Artist Award and the 2015 Tenderflix/Tenderpixel Artist Video Award.