Andy Lomas, Cellular Forms, 2014 Lumen Prize Winner. Courtesy of The Lumen Prize.
Today we’re speaking with Charlotte Lee of The Lumen Prize, an international award for digital art. Now in its fifth year, the Prize’s goal is “to celebrate the power and potential of this exciting genre through an annual competition and global tour of works selected by an eminent panel of judges.” Would you start us off with how the Prize first originated?
The prize really originated with Carla Rapoport, our Director, and her admiration for the work of artists like David Hockney. Quickly realising that Hockney couldn’t be the only artist creating works of art using the iPad, Carla wanted to find the best of this exciting medium and raise its profile worldwide—and the idea of the Lumen Prize was born.
How has it changed since your launch, five years ago?
Since the launch, two of the main things that have changed are the global reach of the prize and the technology that we see the artists using. This year we’ve had entries from as far afield as the Philippines, Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago.
We’ve also seen a big shift in how artists are engaging with technology and what they are able to produce. Responding to this change, we have this year introduced new prizes including Mixed Reality and Web-based.
Chevalert, Murmur, 2014 Lumen Prize Silver Award. Courtesy of The Lumen Prize.
What are the basics—specifically the rules, judging process, and prizes?
We have two stages to judging. First, our International Selectors’ Committee, which is headed by the Museum of London’s Foteini Aravani, reviews all the entries and each work will be seen by at least 5 committee members. The 55 highest rated works form the Lumen Longlist—these then go to our Jury Panel which is made up of 5 eminent members of the contemporary art scene including Doug Dodds, Senior Curator of the V&A Museum and WeiWei Wang, Senior Curator at Shanghai’s Museum of Contemporary Art. The Jury Panel review all 55 and select the 28 works that form the shortlist and the overall winner of each of our 7 categories.
We also have the People’s Choice Award, this gives the public the opportunity to vote for their favourite and this piece gets itself a spot on our 2016/17 tour.
Why focus on digital art? Do you feel as though the genre is left out of other art world competitions?
Despite technology being omnipresent, there does still seem be some trepidation around work that is created digitally. It’s strange considering that smartphones, computers and iPads are everywhere nowadays, but people don’t often know how to respond to this genre.
The art world does seem to shy away from anything that plugs in, but at Lumen we’re dedicated to raising the awareness of digital art everywhere. One of the ways we do this is by making sure that each exhibition we host is connected to a seminar.
Michael Takeo Magruder, A New Jerusalem (installation view), 2015 Immersive Environment Award. Courtesy of The Lumen Prize.
Can you tell us a bit about the global tour?
So this year our 2016/17 global tour kicks off in London with our Winners’ Gala. We’re then heading back to our roots in Wales with a show at Caerphilly Castle in November, then we’re off to Shanghai and we’ll be back at NY’s Creative Tech Week again next April.
By moving around the world every year we’re able to broaden our partnerships and networks—these can then be shared with the artists who have been part of the Lumen family since 2012.
What does the future hold for The Lumen Prize? Are there any big changes planned?
We’ve actually just launched an online marketplace for Lumen Prize artists. We’ve partnered with ascribe, a Berlin-based tech-company, to produce Lumenus, which offers you the chance to collect block-chain secured digital editions. You can currently explore the work of Marcus West, Claire Reika Wright and Alejandro Devalos, and we’ll have more works by Lumen artists available shortly!
Michael Takeo Magruder, A New Jerusalem, 2015 Immersive Environment Award. Courtesy of The Lumen Prize.