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“CYBER DREAMS” Digital Art Exhibition Review | by Pris M | Oct, 2023

The Opening of Cyber Dreams exhibition at Asilo Ciani, Lugano. Photo by Sara Calandra is the largest NFT and WEB3 event in the city of Lugano, Switzerland from 8th to 11th of September 2023. Organised under the aegis of the municipality of Lugano, and supported by some important crypto companies and local institutions and universities. “Cyber Dreams” is one of the exhibitions organised under NFT fest. Directed by Ilaria Stirpe and curated by Sara Calandra and Annalisa Curtarelli, Holy Club Gallery managed the exhibition, showcasing several artworks collected from Poseidon Dao’s digital art collection.

The artists featured in the exhibition were 6529, Andrea Chiampo, Andrea Crespi, Annibale Siconolfi, Anyma, Beeple, Charlesai_ETH, Cullen Colors, Dangiuz, Deekay,

Emanuele Dascanio, Emanuele Ferrari, Fabio Giampietro, Fabio La Fauci, Federico Clapis, Gebelia, Giovanni Motta, Gio’ Roman, Giuseppe Veneziano, Glos, Hackatao, Jared Sylvia, Leo Caillard, Marc Simonetti, Matteo Mauro, Mendacia, Niro Perrone, Nicola Caredda, Osf, Paulo Renftle, Radix, Raphael Lacoste, Seerlight, Skygolpe, The Memes, Vittorio Bonapace, Xcopy, Yun Grant, Yu Cai, Yuma Kishi, Yasmine Mahmoudieh.

The Key to a Successful Digital Art exhibition is Immersivenes

“Neuromancer” installation by Holy Club Gallery

It is fascinating to observe how NFTs progressively infiltrate traditional spaces such as art galleries and museums, or a historic building as a venue of art exhibition. While traditional art exhibitions continue to celebrate and honour the rich history and craft of physical artistic creations, NFT festivals often leverage technology to offer a more interactive and immersive experience. Viewers can engage with digital art using interactive installations, augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) technologies.

The purpose of the ‘Cyber Dreams’ exhibition is to embrace and showcase digital art’s evolution, engage tech-savvy audiences, and attract a younger demographic to galleries. It also supports artists, fosters dialogue, explores new exhibition formats, and showcases diverse digital art forms.

‘Cyber Dreams’ combines the advantages of both traditional and digital art exhibitions. Audience engagement in this exhibition necessitates physical presence, allowing viewers to experience the artwork in person. Holy Club Gallery successfully fused NFTs with their art installations, the artworks were complemented by innovative installations and augmented reality that immersed the viewer in a distinctive multisensory experience. With this exhibition, we do have hope that the realm of NFT artworks is on a continuous evolutionary path, further integrating into society.

installation by Holy Club Gallery

‘Cyber dreams’ mirror our tech-infused desires and fears and its potential implications on society, consciousness, and the future. Choosing this as a digital art exhibition core theme – empowers both exhibition management and artists to showcase surreal, futuristic, fantastical, thought-provoking facets of artworks reflecting our digital age.

In the exhibition, Holy Club Gallery curated a selection of NFT artworks from the Poseidon Dao collections, comprising over 3000 NFTs. They specifically chose several pieces of art based on various sub-themes to resonate with the seven rooms at Asilo Ciani in Lugano, accompanied by art installations made by Holy Club artists: Beatrice Vigoni, Domenico Fragata, Adriano Lombardo, Mattia Gualtieri, and Tommaso Motti as one of the collaborator invited by Holy Club.

The exhibition showcased digital arts from 40 different renowned international artists. Other artists that participated with Holy Club at the NFT fest are: Waro, Nebula, Luca Ballestra, You, Vanessa Pagano, Marcello Baldari, and Dvrk. Together with GameStop artists: Pufutama, Jeibi, DC2, Notsmokable, Luigi Falcone, and Crownandpalette.

The ‘Cyber Dreams’ exhibition guided us through a concept patio, seven distinct rooms and sub themes, suggesting a specific sequence for our visit.

Concept Patio “Close Your Eyes”

The exhibition sequence started from this space. It started with a ‘mirror’ object as a transitional element, with sunlight casting reflections from mirror-like paper, and the skylights as part of a response to the architecture. This encourages contemplation, inviting viewers to reflect on the phygital experiences they have encountered. The concept of ‘Close Your Eyes’ is complemented by encouraging the audience to also open their eyes and indulge in daydreaming. METAGATE’s Augmented Reality (AR) from “OVER the Reality” blends seamlessly, transforming the patio into an innovative stage. This room showcased artworks using both traditional and digital techniques.

Concept Patio with AR by METAGATE

In this space, the blending of these two techniques occurred smoothly. Paulo Renftle presented photographic images from a collection that portrayed beauty on a different plane of reality. Meanwhile, Andrea Crespi exhibited ‘Ex Human,’ an immersive digital installation featuring a series of large-scale portraits of androids and human-like robots, each inspired by neoclassical sculptures of the past. Yasmine Mahmoudieh, in her work ‘Oceana Warp,’ showcased eco-conscious art that transforms recycled plastic into 3D-printed pieces embedded with NFC chips. This augmented reality (AR) installation combines mycelium and architecture to combat ocean plastic, seamlessly merging authenticity with environmental awareness.

Seven Rooms with Sub Themes

After enjoying leisure on the patio, we were directed to explore additional sub themes for the ‘Cyber Dreams’ exhibition, which are divided into seven rooms. Each room in the exhibition explores unique themes, creating a diverse and thought-provoking experience for visitors.

  1. ‘Post Human Dreams’: The term refers to a future in which technology surpasses human existence, blurring the lines between humanity and machines. Art converged with AI, signifying a state beyond typical human existence for a person or entity that goes beyond the conventional understanding of humanity, sometimes resembling a post-apocalyptic era. The installation artwork showcased cutting-edge technology like hologram figure inside a cage, surrounded by cables as a representation of post humanism.
‘Post Human Dreams’ Room

The artworks in “Core Craving” by Skygolpe and “You, Yourself, and I” by Fabio la Fauci signify an awareness of the state of human existence and identity. Federico Clapis, through his piece “Digital Growth — Flooded #36/107,” illustrates how technology can surpass human existence. Nicola Caredda and Marc Simonetti exhibit a post-apocalyptic ambiance, while Nicola Caredda’s “The K-Pop is Dead” provides an ironic critique of a glorious moment in popular culture. Marc Simonetti’s work aims to illuminate the beauty of humanity even in challenging circumstances.

2. ‘This is Your Brain on Tetris’ theme reminded us of Tetris’ impact on mental rotation, adaptability, and spatial awareness. Playing Tetris can create a state of ‘flow,’ fostering intense focus and a sense of control. It offers a unique blend of gaming and digital art. The game’s repetitive and immersive nature can induce a calming, meditative state of mind.

This is evident in artworks that combined captivating cityscapes, architectural or futuristic dreamlands, and meditative features, as seen in Yu Cai’s work titled “Your Homes, High in the City,” Seerlight’s piece titled “Sunset View,” and Mendacia’s creation, “Game Changer.

‘This is Your Brain on Tetris’ Room

Artworks that represented flow and repetitive behaviour include XCOPY, who fuses themes of death, disorder, and crypto into visual loops, and OSF with his work, “GOFL #231.” Additionally, DeeKay’s animations skillfully capture the unexpectedly joyful emotions found in GM messages, as well as the multitude of replies expressed by numerous characters. In some of the illustrator’s characters, we can easily see reflections of ourselves.

Another artist in this room was Emanuele Ferrari with his work titled “Moongirl #1054”. He has created a photograph that was conceived with the intention of changing and evolving in the NFT world.

3. ‘Dystopian Dreams’ combined elements of a bleak, nightmarish society and oppressive future with the imaginative or subconscious nature of dreams. The room was set with a dark ambiance and glow-in-the-dark paintings all over the walls, emphasising shadows and contrast to create a grim and foreboding atmosphere. Coloured dry tree installations between the artworks depict a barren, empty, or harsh environment with no vegetation or signs of life. This room enhanced the presentation of the NFT artworks really well.

‘Dystopian Dream’ Room

The dark room created a contrasting environment with Aidan Cullen’s artwork titled ‘Colors experiment #92’ and also psychedelic artworks featuring surreal elements, such as Niro Perrone’s ‘Club 50’ and Jared Silvia’s ‘Introspection.’ Conversely, Beeple’s artwork titled ‘GIGACHAD’ offers a satirical or critical commentary on the volatile and speculative nature of the cryptocurrency market, particularly when influenced by high-profile figures like Elon Musk.

The artworks, including Emanuele Dascanio’s ‘Dormition but the night doesn’t exist,’ Matteo Mauro’s ‘I live as if a river traversed me,’ and Andrea Chiampo’s ‘Limbus,’ collectively suggest that concepts like transformation or transition find meaning solely within the framework of human perception. They mirror the way humans evolve and adapt to various life situations.

4. ‘Cyberpunk’ theme encapsulates a fusion of advanced technology with a rebellious, punk-inspired attitude. It delves into the convergence of human and machine, and the potential repercussions of unrestrained corporate influence. This room was accompanied by installations made by Holy Club and Tommaso Moti. The characters they made feature cybernetic enhancements, implanted devices, or digital interfaces integrated into their bodies.

‘Cyberpunk’ Room with installation by Holy Club and Tommaso Motti

The works of Annibale Siconolfi, including “The Night District,” Raphael Lacoste’s “The Wall Part 2,” and the collaborative work of BakaArts x Dangiuz in “From Ash,” all provided inspirational sources for futuristic architectural landscapes in science fiction. The universal human longing for adventure, exploration, and the pursuit of the unknown is exemplified by the artworks of Giovanni Motta, such as “Afternoon Garage,” and Gio’ Roman, as seen in “Meta-Multiverse.

The transhumanism inspirations shown by the artworks of Glos — “Orgasmica” and Nyma — “Eva 0”. While Gebelia utilized a cyberpunk character as a tool for critiquing society’s system in his work “Social Engineering 101”.

5. ‘Remediation’, this sub theme refers to the process of correcting or addressing issues, problems, or deficiencies in a particular system, process, environment, or situation. The use of blue lighting can convey a sense of tranquillity, calmness, and serenity. It can create a soothing environment, allowing visitors to relax and fully engage with the art without feeling overwhelmed. Circumferential mirrors encircling the NFT artworks created a distortion in the viewer’s perception, offering different perspectives through the interplay of reflections, space, and reality. The mirror also encouraged viewer interaction by allowing them to see themselves alongside the artwork depicting the future.

‘Remediation’ Room

The artworks that recombine fragments of the art of the past, transmuting ancient treasures into new and evocative expressions are Vittorio Bonapace — “The Potato Eaters on Mars”, Leo Caillard — “Hipster Farnese” and Giuseppe Veneziano — “Madonna of the Sacred Heart”.

The artworks best known for discovering beauty in seemingly commonplace subjects, such as gas stations, or a view from a window of an imaginary place shown by Yun Grant with his “Gas Station” and Fabio Giampietro with his “World Window”. Hackatao with their “Beyond The Void” symbolise the break in both the conventional artistic scenarios of their times to go “beyond”. Beyond space, time, and the void. Another artist in this room is Zhuk with his “Fortitudo #10/30” .

6. ‘The Substance of Dreams’ artworks may portray dreams as a form of inner journey, a way to discover hidden desires, fears, or aspirations. It became a means of self-exploration and self-understanding. It suggested the fundamental, underlying aspects of what one hopes to achieve or attain in life. This room showcased artworks created by artists in collaboration with Holy Club Gallery. The installation in this room presented 3 animation artworks using holographic fan displays.

‘The Substance of Dreams’ Room

Artists in ‘The Substance of Dreams’ Room are:

  • CryptoMadonne — #111
  • Them — Fangoria — Outsider collection
  • Waro — 6663
  • Nebvla — Flowing love — ephemera series
  • Luca Ballestra — Sibyl
  • You — Contamination
  • Vanessa Pagano — Whale
  • Marcello Baldari — Wizard silhouette
  • Dvrk — Choice
  • Tommaso Motti — Is there anybody out there? : Alien puffer outfit — Skeleton puffer & black, puffy pants — Tornado puffer, white puffy pants & big big big backpack.

One of the artist — ‘You’ also did an art performance at ‘Cyber Dreams’ exhibition. Matteo Mandelli introduced us to an industrial cutting blade to a television screen. You can watch the video here.

From Game Stop:

  • Pufutama — Cubicle 24th Reg
  • Jeibi — From the abyss
  • DC2 — Unknown dream
  • Notsmokable — Fuck Eden
  • LuIgi Falcone — PrigionIA digitale
  • Crownandpalette — Solace

7. ‘Machine Dreams’ artworks co-created with AI, reflecting the evolving human-machine relationship. The installation in this room was created by Adriano Lombardo. Audiences had the opportunity to interact with a camera, enabling them to see their reflections projected onto the strips of lights.

Artists in ‘Machine Dreams’ room are:

  • Yuma Kishi — Seeds#70022
  • Charlesai — Fractured Museum #2
  • Fabiano Speziari — Mental Pathways #38
  • Radix — Inspirals #236
  • Shvembldr: 444(4) #205–444(4) #160–444(4) #418–444(4) #313
  • The Memes by 6529: The Institutions Are Coming –
  • SeizeJPGs — NakamotoFreedom — Sgt. Pepe
Interactive Installation by Adriano Lombardo in ‘Machine Dream’ room.

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