Critical Playgrounds

Critical Playgrounds

The impact and evolution of technology is foregrounded in the 30th anniversary edition of London Art Fair. Of the 131 exhibitors, many galleries represent practitioners that grapple with new innovations, from photography to robotics and virtual reality. Through initiatives such as Photo50, a forum that examines the distinctive elements of lens-based practice, the event provides a catalyst for interdisciplinary exchange and collective action. Rewriting established genres such as portraiture, landscape painting and sculpture, a selection of pioneering practitioners transcend the tangible to create forward-thinking, critically engaging pieces.

Anise Gallery, London, for example, offers dialogues between contemporary art and the digital age. Artist in Residence Charles Harrop Griffiths expands notions of the built environment to include the internet as a form of infrastructure. Using virtual reality to produce landscapes, he explores the relationship between simulated space and cultural memory. The gallery also foregrounds Rachel Ara, who won the Aesthetica Art Prize in 2016. London Art Fair showcases prototypes of work This Much I’m Worth, a sculptural piece that continuously assesses and calculates its own worth. Ara’s practice is socio-politically informed, challenging contemporary value systems and highlighting the ubiquity of technology in everyday life. In a similar way, Arte Globale reflects the state of the tangible modern world through Aristotle Roufanis’ photography. Concerned with the phenomenon of social alienation within built environments Alone Together depicts vast metropoles illuminated solely by individual apartment lights.

Other artists address the changing worth of materials in the current art market. CFPR Editions’ Paul O’Dowd is intrigued by the limits of 3D printing. Questioning the possibilities of computer programming, O’Dowd has an interest in how robots can be programmed to use common tools such as paint and pencils. Striving for a craft-based control of form and texture, his investigations complicate notions of authenticity, blurring the lines between reality and simulation. Equally, BP Portrait Award nominee Sophie Derrick’s contribution uses her face as the canvas, creating unique compositions that combine photography with painting, bridging the divide between traditional and contemporary methodologies.

From 17-21 January. Find out more:

Use code AESTHETICA to save 30% on day tickets, just £11 + £1.50 booking fee, when you book before 14 January.

1. Alone Together VIII, 2017 © Aristotle Roufanis, image courtesy of the artist and Arte Globale