Multimedia artist Lawrence Lek took home the Grand Prix at this year’s VH AWARD, a biennial event organized by Hyundai Motor Group to discover and support emerging new media artists of Asian descent.
Established in 2016, the VH AWARD was initially created to recognize and cultivate promising Korean media artists. This year, in celebration of its fourth edition, Hyundai expanded the award to include all Asian artists whose works portray and question the vast array of issues and trends impacting Asia, such as the relationship between humanity and artificial intelligence as well as the consequences of climate change. It is the first time artists outside South Korea have been eligible to apply.
Lek’s Grand Prix-winning work, “Black Cloud” (2021), marks the culmination of the London-based artist’s ongoing body of virtual reality productions. Through his VR renderings, Lek opens up inquiries into the “geopolitical” implications of artificial intelligence and illuminates the various links between AI and art, paying particular attention to the ways in which different societal attitudes toward AI control peoples’ values, lifestyles, and modes of operation around the world.
“The virtual tools, such as computer-generated images and computer games, can enable contemporary artists to create environments that reflect some of the utopian ideas of architecture,” said Lek. “I enjoy the freedom that these virtual spaces offer, as they are not limited by the same financial or political considerations involved in creating real-life architecture.”
The five finalists of the 4th VH AWARD are Grand Prix winner Lawrence Lek, Doreen Chan, Paribartana Mohanty, Jungwon Seo, and Syaura Qotrunadha. After being selected for the shortlist, all participated in an online residency hosted by Eyebeam, an art and technology center in New York City. The program supported the production of new artworks while providing professional development sessions with mentors including curators Barbara London, Karen Archey, and Ute Meta Bauer, and artists Zach Lieberman, Kamau Patton, and American Artist.
Each finalist received $25,000 to produce a screen-based, audio-visual work and as the Grand Prix recipient, Lek will receive an additional $25,000. All finalists’ works will be screened at upcoming events at renowned art institutions and virtual museums around the globe.
Virtual ceremony view of the 4th VH AWARD
More than 200 people joined the virtual award ceremony. The event featured individual virtual rooms for all shortlisted artists, in which full-length versions of their works were available to screen online for the first time.
Unique to this year’s event was a virtual treasure hunt where visitors could discover hidden collectible coins, dubbed “Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs),” during the ceremony. The first 50 guests to collect coins were presented with NFT artworks displaying key visual elements drawn from the finalists’ works.
To view work by the 4th VH AWARD finalists, visit vhaward.com.