San Francisco—On Sunday, April 29, 2018, the inaugural edition of If So, What? (ISW) closed with strong sales and attendance by notable patrons, art enthusiasts and leaders of the Silicon Valley tech community. The inaugural edition was welcomed with positive responses to its unique approach to the Silicon Valley Bay area, uniting the worlds of arts and technology. The event featured presentations by leading galleries from Europe, Asia, the US, and the Middle East, as well as cutting edge multimedia installations, such as projection mapping, Augmented Reality sculptures, and Virtual Reality showrooms. A panel series with executives from the fields of art and technology and a music program curated by San Jose Jazz complemented the show. ISW was open to the public from April 27 to 29, 2018 at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, with an exclusive VIP preview and opening reception on April 26 that benefited Art in Action, a California-based non-profit offering art education to K-8 students.
Sho-Joung Kim-Wechsler and Linda Helen Gieseke, Co-founders of ISW, commented, “We are thrilled to have closed our first show with such warm reception from the Bay Area community and beyond. Launching a unique event that combines the concept of an art and design fair with immersive technology installations, a large-scale conference, as well as the flair of a music festival was an exciting journey, and many of our visitors shared that they experienced a mesmerizing world of all of these elements. Today we have taken a very strong first step in creating a community of creatives from all fields that the region has needed for a long time, and we look forward to being a part of this community that will continue to evolve.”
Art and Design Galleries / Curated Showrooms
Leading art and design galleries across the globe exhibited paintings, sculpture, photography, and video art among others. Within 30 minutes of the VIP Opening on Thursday, April 26, a large-scale sculpture by artist Kevin Abosch sold to Michael Jackson, investor and former COO of Skype, for USD 400,000 — more than the cost of a 2018 yellow Lamborghini. Titled ‘YELLOW LAMBO’, the 10-foot-long yellow neon sculpture is comprised of 42 alphanumerics that represent the blockchain contract address for the unique crypto-token YELLOW LAMBO, also created by the artist whose work addresses the nature of identity, value, and human currency. The sale is a testimony to the success of this new initiative that truly brings together art and technology in the Silicon Valley for the first time.
Kevin Abosch noted, “If So, What? is not just another art fair in San Francisco but a unique platform that really understands and interests the community here. This was an ideal place to bring my new work ‘YELLOW LAMBO’, which perfectly distills the emotionally charged activity of a particular group of cryptocurrency traders who use ‘#lambo’ as a declaration, not just for their desire to own such a fine motor car, but as a way to communicate their own acknowledgement of how crazy the quest for crypto-billions has become. I use proxies as emotional distillates. If the Lamborghini is a symbol of success-identity, then the car itself is a proxy. The crypto-token YLAMBO is a proxy of a proxy. Finally, YELLOW LAMBO in all its neon splendor is yet another proxy… triple-distilled value.”
Strong sales continued throughout the show, with collectors and museum groups from San Francisco, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, Shanghai, and Europe among others in attendance. Presentation highlights included Carrie Scott & Partners’ solo exhibition of the legendary fashion photographer Nick Knight, Halcyon Gallery’s booth with works by Santiago Montoya, who uses banknotes from around the world to explore issues around today’s culture, currency, and politics, and works by African artists Mário Macilau and Abe Odedina at Ed Cross Fine Art’s booth.
Art x Technology Installations
Taking the art fair model to the next level, ISW showcased some of today’s most cutting edge large-scale installations that merge art and technology. Highlights included a Virtual Reality Showroom featuring works by Paul McCarthy, Nikita Shalenny, and M Eifler. Visitors also enjoyed the renowned San Francisco technologist Marpi’s Interactive Projection Installation, a new interactive media art installation driven by visitors’ sensory movements and wandered around the Augmented Reality (AR) Digital Sculpture Garden, featuring works by Corwin Bell, Fiona Tan, and Gabriel Dunne, created in collaboration between CreateAR, LYNCHINI and C-fire. In addition, visitors were invited to create artworks using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology in daily workshops run by San Francisco-based art and technology projects and event organizers CODAME with Jamaican-born interaction designer and artist Gary Boodhoo.
“I am over the moon with excitement for how this fair has come off. I’ve made great connections and sold incredible pieces of fine art to people all over the world. I couldn’t be happier with how things have turned out. We have set a new precedent for collecting art with the AR Sculpture Garden, which is the first ever AR Sculpture Garden that exists in another reality, and the art we are creating is now cross-dimensional, multidimensional”, remarked Nick Lynch, Founder and Director of LYNCHINI.
Global Panel Series
In addition to curated showrooms and large-scale multimedia installations, 15 keynotes and panel discussions with 48 executives bringing together art and technology took place throughout the event. Highlights included a talk about art in the work environment, featuring Steven Aldrich, CPO of GoDaddy; Maya Razon, Executive Development of Google; and Danielle Wohl, Founder of Danielle Wohl Art Advisory; and a panel on the impact of cryptocurrencies on society and art, featuring speakers Patrick Baron, President of Ambisafe; Eleesa Dadiani, Founder of Dadiani Fine Art; Marcelo García Casil, CEO and Founder of Maecenas; and Mark Lurie, Founder and CEO of Codex Protocol Biography. Other notable speakers included Josh Constine, Editor-at-Large at TechCrunch; Jennifer Raiser, author of ‘Burning Man: Art on Fire’; Julie Wainwright, CEO of TheRealReal; Kira Wampler, CEO of art.com; Sara Fitzmaurice, CEO and President of FITZ & CO; Bay Area collectors David and Pamela Hornik; Drew Bennett, Founder and Director of the Artist in Residence Program at Facebook; Satjiv Chahil, Silicon Valley pioneer and former CMO of Apple; and museum directors and presidents Susan Sayre Batton, Oshman Executive Director of San José Museum of Art Dr. Jay Xu, CEO and Director of Asian Art Museum of San Francisco Larry Rinder, Director of Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; Amanda Horn, Director of Communications at Nevada Museum of the Art; and Maria Seferian, President of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. All talks are now available on ISW’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ifsowhat
Porsche Art Media Installation
ISW unveiled the first-ever Porsche Art Media Installation, a multimedia projection mapping installation inspired by and created with a Porsche model that invites the public to interact with and directly alter the installation via social media. Created by a team of recent graduates and alumni of California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in collaboration with Porsche, the installation depicted ‘waves’ of colors and sounds on a Porsche model, which constantly changed as social media users across the globe interacted with the work by mentioning or tagging #Porsche, #CalArts, or #ifsowhat and other keywords.
Music Program curated by San Jose Jazz
Contemporary music performances curated and produced by San Jose Jazz (SJZ), a Silicon Valley-based non-profit celebrating jazz as a dynamic, evolving art form, welcomed visitors throughout the show. Featured artists include Chale Brown, The C.M.E., Photay, Shea Butter, Rayana Jay, DJ Sake One, and Tortured Soul, who are part of SJZ’s Jazz Beyond programming stream, which presents musicians at the nexus of soul, hip-hop, and jazz.