Visualizing global art

MetaLAB cofounder Robert Gerard Pietrusko has collaborated with Stewart Smith and Bernd Lintermann in a piece called trans_actions: The Accelerated Art World 1989–2011, which explores the impact of the worldwide explosion of art biennials through immersive, panoramic visualizations of data on the global art market and the migration of art, artists, and their audiences.

The dynamic charts in trans_actions convey the impression that (the biennials) are not really places, but “emergent transnational contact zones,” with artists and curators traveling from around the world to places like Moscow, Istanbul and Sydney. Nearly half of biennials today happen in countries beyond the West, and non-Western biennials such as Sao Paulo, Havana, or the Johannesburg Biennale, which has only happened twice, are already considered the main drivers of global art discourse. But trans_actions also raises questions: is there really no longer a center in the decentralized world of biennials? What about the famous Venice Biennale and Kassel’s Documenta—do they still speak for the whole of the art world? And why does the Dak’Art Biennale remain the only event of its kind on the African continent? (Excerpt from the project page at the ZKM web site, translated from the German.)

The piece is now on view at the ZKM Centre for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany—a promising taste of great things to come from metaLAB’s emerging collaboration with the ZKM Centre, a partnership that will encompass exhibitions, digitization, and documentation of ZKM’s remarkable media archive. The screenshots above don’t capture the sumptuous dynamism of the show’s animations; to get a feel for the full experience, visit the project page at the web site of the ZKM Centre.