The best of digital art in 2023

LuYang (China, 1984), one of the most well-known and influential Chinese new media artists internationally, experiments with various media – from 3D animation to installation video games to holograms and virtual reality projects – creating works that interact with each other combine science fiction, queer theory and the world of gaming, causing the viewer to question the very concept of reality in the virtual age. Winner of the “Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year” award with the exhibition project DOKU Experience CenterLuYang, presented at MUDEC in Milan in 2023, combines the aesthetics of new media, manga and video games with Buddhist philosophy. Reincarnation is actually the focus DOKU – Digital Descent (2020–ongoing), an installation already shown at the 59th Art Biennale and protagonist of the exhibition in the Lombard capital: here his gender-neutral alter ego (Dokusho Dokushi) is reborn in different forms, from heaven to hell, in everyone the six rebirth realms of samsara – Human, sky, asura, animal, hungry ghost And hell.

LuYang, 2023. Photo © Wang Shenshen

The young director was born in 1995 in Schimmert, a small village in the south of Holland Celine Daemen (Netherlands, 1995) is quickly establishing itself on the international art scene thanks to his masterful, sensitive, haunting, intimate but also spiritual storytelling. Using the medium of virtual reality, the artist creates a “safe space” and offers it to the viewer to test themselves on an inner journey that often brings to light universal philosophical questions and reflections on their own being. It's no coincidence that his Songs for a passerby triumphed as “Best Experience” at the Venice Immersive Island 2023 Venice Film Festival: It is “An experience that explores the connection between the physical and metaphysical worlds: we are both a body moving in space and a mind contemplating it“, explains the author. And the visitor actually finds himself face to face with himself in a dark labyrinth, in a “meditation” outside his own body.

Céline Daemen — © Jean-Pierre Jans
Céline Daemen — © Jean-Pierre Jans

Instead, let's look at Italy to observe one thing recommended approach unique of its kind in the region: the multidisciplinary course merged*, based in Modena. Although it was active for several years, it made headlines with its installation in 2023 Fantastic at the Peruzzo Foundation in Padua. Using AI (specifically machine learning algorithms capable of generating images from textual content), the work uses a selection of about 800 dreams – “screened” from the over 28,000 created by the volunteers of two “dream banks” were told: those from the University of Bologna and the University of California Santa Cruz – to bring it to life through technology. “We are convinced that art and science enrich each other“ explains the collective, “On the one hand, we perceive that a work takes on a completely different meaning and power when it has a solid scientific basis and a clearly defined message to convey. On the other hand, communicating often complex scientific messages through artistic language makes them accessible to a wider audience thanks to the emotional connection created between the work and the user“.

Onirica (), Fuse, Fondazione Peruzzo, Padua, 2023. Photo © Ugo Carmeni
Onirica (), Fuse, Fondazione Peruzzo, Padua, 2023. Photo © Ugo Carmeni

The American definitely deserves an honorable mention Wang Shuian artist appearing on the charts of Just 2023 TIME100 Next among the “emerging leaders from around the world who are shaping the future and defining the next generation of leaders“. Trained as a video artist, WangShui (USA, 1986) then tested himself in various media – from painting to installation to mixed media – but his research reached a turning point when he began to integrate AI into his creative process (specifically incorporating “generative adversarial networks”, a model capable of creating new compositions based on existing images). By integrating this potential into painting, the artist begins a journey of exploring technological and biological connections that would otherwise remain unnoticed by the human eye, and explores the concepts of identity and invisibility in contemporary times.

WangShui, portrait.  Photo credit Maryam Hoseini
WangShui, portrait. Photo credit Maryam Hoseini

For several years now, the Roman artist Federica di Pietrantonio has managed to appear in the sea of ​​new proposals in the capital, also thanks to The Gallery Apart, which has bet on her several times. But 2023 was certainly a golden year: from the honorable mention of the VDA Award 2023 (the first recognition in Italy for excellence in the field of digital art, organized by Var Digital Art); to participate as a finalist in the Re:Humanism collective in Rome and later in VISIO – European program for moving images by artists in Florence, a project dedicated to Lo scuola dell'arte artists under 35; During her stay at SODA – School of Digital Arts in Manchester in collaboration with the Quadrennial of Rome. In short, thanks to a unique style that draws on the aesthetics of the Internet without neglecting traditional media, but is not afraid to experiment with video game graphics engines and analyze the darkest environments of digital subcultures, di Pietrantonio quickly advances advances in the world of art: definitely something to keep an eye on in 2024.

Federica Di Pietrantonio, portrait.  Photo by Eleonora Cerri Pecorella
Federica Di Pietrantonio, portrait. Photo by Eleonora Cerri Pecorella

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