M+ presents the Asia premiere of HUMAN ONE, an iconic twenty-first-century artwork by pioneering digital artist Beeple

M+ presents the Asia premiere of HUMAN ONE,  an iconic twenty-first-century artwork by pioneering digital artist Beeple

Beeple. Stills of HUMAN ONE, 2021. Four-channel digital video sculpture (colour, silent), polished aluminium and mahogany wood support. Dynamic non-fungible token. Courtesy of Ryan Zurrer’s personal collection. Photo courtesy of the artist

M+, Asia’s first global museum of contemporary visual culture in the West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong, is pleased to present the Asia premiere of groundbreaking generative digital sculpture HUMAN ONE by Beeple, a leading figure in digital art and design, in the museum’s Focus Gallery from 9 December 2022 to 30 April 2023. 

 

Beeple: HUMAN ONE presents a dynamically changing hybrid digital-and-physical artwork, which shows the first human born inside the metaverse, a 3D virtual world accessible only through the internet. The work depicts a human figure the artist calls ‘traveller’ who appears within a seven-foot-tall spinning box-like structure composed of four monolithic LED screens. The traveller wears an astronaut suit and treks forward in an endlessly evolving virtual landscape. The M+ presentation will be the first exhibition of this work in Asia. 

 

Designed as a continuous digital display that will periodically evolve over time, HUMAN ONE presents an ongoing conversation in response to current events and reflects the artist’s changing interests over the course of his life. As the traveller marches forward towards an unspecified goal, the surroundings restlessly adapt and transform into a pastiche of different settings, ranging from the dreamlike to dystopian, from hallucinatory to desolate. Beeple will update this virtual landscape from time to time, incorporating elements from the internet and his own practice to respond to the general state of the world. 

 

HUMAN ONE presents the viewer with a lens through which they can understand contemporary visual culture as a pliable and ever-growing experience, represented by a figure who is confined within a hermetically sealed case yet aspiring for ceaseless motion, grasping towards a boundless infinity. The traveller’s extraordinary journey is a reminder to viewers of the continued blurring of our own digital and physical existence—a metaphor for human progress.

 

Suhanya Raffel, Museum Director, M+, says, ‘M+, as a pioneering museum of visual culture, has been dedicated to deepening our engagement with emerging technologies. We have closely observed the rapid development and rising popularity of the metaverse and digital art among local communities. Therefore, we have worked to incorporate such timely interests into our institutional research and curatorial programmes. M+ is delighted to be the first institution in Asia to present HUMAN ONE, an ambitious work of our time that seamlessly fluctuates between physical and virtual realms. Utilising cutting-edge technology, HUMAN ONE tells an innately humanistic story of exploration, discovery, and new enlightenment. There is truly no better place to present Beeple’s visionary chronicle than M+ which is located at the urban centre of the fast-paced cosmopolitan Hong Kong.’

 

Doryun Chong, Deputy Director, Curatorial and Chief Curator, M+, underscores the importance of Beeple’s artistic practice, ‘Beeple is indisputably one of the most prominent and globally recognised figures in the twenty-first century’s technology-driven visual culture. He is part of a generation of artists who have been influenced by a diet of Saturday morning cartoons and Hollywood pop cultural references, as well as the entrepreneurial spirit of networked digital cultures. A destabilizer and trailblazer, Beeple has undoubtedly challenged traditional models of presenting and distributing art. I believe his tremendous vision will strongly connect with Hong Kong and Asia’s many creators and innovators, unveiling to all the infinite potential of today’s virtual universe.’  

 

Beeple shares his excitement to showcase his first physical sculpture at M+, ‘HUMAN ONE is an ongoing experiment trying to bridge the digital and physical world in an open-ended canvas, a moving work of art that restlessly exhibits timely images and creates new meanings. I am delighted to see the ongoing journey of HUMAN ONE extend beyond geographical boundaries, to arrive at M+ for a diverse and daring audience in Hong Kong.’

 

Ryan Zurrer, owner of HUMAN ONE, says, ‘HUMAN ONE is a deep meditation on mankind’s first steps into the Metaverse. It evokes the onlooker to consider their digital identity in relation to their physical identity, a timely and poignant conversation on the world stage. Like the courageous explorer at the centre of HUMAN ONE, Beeple forges new ground with his unique toolbox of skills and futuristic vision. HUMAN ONE represents an inspiring innovation in the trajectory of contemporary digital art and we are incredibly grateful to be able to share it with the world at such a culturally important institution.’

 

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Director of Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea and Fondazione Francesco Federico Cerruti in Turin, where HUMAN ONE was exhibited, says, ‘It was a great pleasure to host the museum world premiere of HUMAN ONE in Spring 2022 at Castello di Rivoli in Turin. A physical media sculpture and digital NFT artwork that revolves on itself, HUMAN ONE portrays a genderless character of the future, endlessly moving in a dystopian landscape wearing a helmet and a silver suit. Highly crafted, this faceless and solitary moving being both celebrates and critiques our technological world of dynamic networked avatars.’

 

Visitors holding M+ General Admission tickets can visit Beeple: HUMAN ONE in the Focus Gallery in addition to other galleries (except special exhibition). Tickets can be purchased online via the M+ website, West Kowloon Cultural District website, West Kowloon Cultural District App, Cityline, China Travel Service (Hong Kong) Limited, Fliggy, and Klook

 

Remarks

 

About Beeple
Beeple (b. 1981, United States) is the professional moniker of Mike Winkelmann, a leading digital artist and designer active over the past twenty years. His rapid rise to public prominence in recent years helped to highlight the growing influence of digitally generated art. Diverse in style, Beeple’s work incorporates references from pop culture, science fiction, and politics, often with a sardonic edge. Central to his artistic practice is his Everydays project, for which he uploads images daily to his website for public critique and learns a new technical skill every year.

 

About M+
M+ is a museum dedicated to collecting, exhibiting, and interpreting visual art, design and architecture, moving image, and Hong Kong visual culture of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District, it is one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary visual culture in the world, with a bold ambition to establish ourselves as one of the world’s leading cultural institutions. M+ is a new kind of museum that reflects our unique time and place, a museum that builds on Hong Kong’s historic balance of the local and the international to define a distinctive and innovative voice for Asia’s twenty-first century.

 

About the West Kowloon Cultural District
The West Kowloon Cultural District is one of the largest and most ambitious cultural projects in the world. Its vision is to create a vibrant new cultural quarter for Hong Kong on forty hectares of reclaimed land located alongside Victoria Harbour. With a varied mix of theatres, performance spaces, and museums, the West Kowloon Cultural District will produce and host world-class exhibitions, performances, and cultural events, providing twenty-three hectares of public open space, including a two-kilometre waterfront promenade.