Public Beta is one of the feature public events hosted by NEW INC, the incubator space of the New Museum. With new artists-in-residence every twelve months, NEW INC keeps the artistic ideas fresh and cutting edge. Public Beta puts all of this on display, giving you access to the artists and their work in a casual, exploratory setting. Tryout a virtual reality experience, watch a movie, order a new sweatshirt, or buy a new necklace. Public Beta was an intimate flea market of wildly curious and highly cerebral tech-based art.
Neon green tape zig zags through a warehouse-looking floor space. White walls, windowed walls, poster- covered walls: the space was casually filled, unabashedly “hand made.” The energy was calm but intense. There was a line to get in; at first a little off putting, suggesting a sense of needing to be “in the know” to enter. However, upon entering one was eternally grateful for the space inside that the line outside secured. No detail would want to be missed in this creative hotbed.
There was a jewelry maker, clothing line designer, virtual reality creator, and book publisher. There was a sculptor, and there was an acoustics designer. There were makerbots, charging stations, iPads, and headsets. It was a mix art exhibition maker space, this was Public Beta.
It is necessary to define “tech-based” as “tech” is a widely used, yet highly vague term. In the case of Public Beta, it stayed true to form and evaded one specific definition, and instead embraced many. Tech can refer to the literal, physical apparatuses, like a makerbot. It can refer to the new aggregates of data now achievable, and manipulations of code inspired by advances in the digital realm. Tech can also refer to the new social concerns raised by the pervading ease of access to information, such as what it means to have privacy in the 21st century. Technology is the new “ism”. Just as the 20th century had their Cubism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, and so on, we have our technology(ism). It is one of the principal lens’ artists will look through when shaping their works. And, it is the principal lens through which we too will look through when digesting the cultural products they serve us. Technology has provided us with a new medium: big data, endless data, infinite data. And artists have wasted no time at all trying to figure it all out.
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