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The 2005 Leonardo Global Crossings Award Nominees

The First Leonardo Global Crossings Award has been awarded to Abdel Ghany Kenawy and Amal Kenawy. The three runners-up for the 2005 Leonardo Global Crossings Award are Regina CÚlia Pinto, Kim Machan and Shilpa Gupta. (Please also see the 2005 Leonardo Global Crossings Award Announcement.)

The Leonardo Global Crossings Award recognizes the contribution of artists and scholars from culturally diverse communities worldwide who work within the emerging art-science-technology field. The award is part of the Leonardo Global Crossings Special Project, supported by the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.

The 2005 Global Crossings Award jury consisted of Samirah Al-Kasim (fillmmaker, Egypt), Julio Bermudez (educator, U.S.A.-Argentina), Choy Kok Kee (artist, Singapore), Maria Fernandez (researcher, U.S.A.-Nicaragua), Pamela Grant-Ryan (editor, U.S.A.), Nisar Keshvani (editor-consultant, Singapore), Jayachandran Palazhy (choreographer-artistic director, India), Sundar Sarukkai (researcher, India), Yacov Sharir (educator, U.S.A.) and Rejane Spitz (educator, Brazil).

Nominees for the 2005 award were:

Abdel Ghany Kenawy and Amal Kenawy
Shilpa Gupta
Kim Machan
Regina Célia Pinto
Andres Burbano
Nalini Malani
Hellen Sky

The 2005 Global Crossings Award winners, the brother-sister team of Abdel Ghany Kenawy and Amal Kenawy, of Cairo, have been collaborating on large-scale installations since 1997. These works, whether tower-like structures containing glass balls rising up towards the ceiling or tunnels leading to a block of frozen ice in a room surrounded by chiffon, demonstrate that there is no "natural" barrier between the worlds of art and science.The Kewanys’ unique collaboration is built partially upon Abdel Ghany's background in the physical sciences and Amal's background in filmmaking, yet their individual efforts cannot be so neatly defined as singularly "scientific" or "artistic." Committed to their creative processes, they work very closely together on every aspect of their projects from conceptualization and structural design to production and execution in their workshop. Characteristic of all their projects is the power of texture and image, and sensorial play with surfaces between spaces (loosening up the inside/outside polarity)--whether it is a "textured" video, the texture of light projected on a triple screen of chiffon, the texture of human hair bows on a pair of wax legs in a display case, or the textures (acoustic and visual) of a beating heart on which a pair of lace gloved hands is sewing a white rose appliqué.

Abdel Ghany Kenawy articulates very clearly the dialogue between art and science manifest in their works, as an organic functioning that determines the course and shape of the piece---and that then gets transformed into a personal reflection in time and space: "I use functionalist notions of causality to gain a better understanding of the potential meaning inherent in the materials that I use and their consequences. The relationship between form and concept, material and energy is the basis of my work, rendering the process of creation more organic and less contrived. I borrow from the laws of nature, biology and physics. This knowledge has been integral to our work, which integrates elements of nature, with the force of the human condition replete with emotions and memories to articulate an artistic discourse that transcends time and place."

For examples of their work see http://www.thetownhousegallery.com/html/artists/amal_abdelghany_kenawy.htm.

Runner-up Shilpa Gupta, born in 1976, lives and works in Mumbai, India. Her Internet, video and installation works have been exhibited all over the world. Gupta has shown a remarkable flexibility in her approach, moving away from conventional notions of what constitutes art and art practice. She has managed to bring the life practices, experiences, beliefs, memories and imaginations of people, particularly from India, into the realm of new art practices. In doing so she has reached out to a wider section of society and has changed the idea of how we experience or even imagine art. Her work stands outside the definitions created by Eurocentric art-history--based art practice and offers a fresh approach to creating art in an Indian context. Among her well-known works are Blessed-bandwidth.net, Sentiment-Express.com and Diamonds and You.com. Blessedbandwidth.net, a piece commissioned by Tate Online, "invites visitors to log on, choose a religion and get blessed." While Shilpa Gupta‰s works are visibly technological, they use technology to throw light not on technology but on ordinary experiences. The most important insights into technology developed in her work concern the ways by which technology becomes "natural," something that we take for granted in the same way as the natural world around us. For more information about Gupta's work see www.tate.org.uk/netart/blessedbandwidth/.

Runner-up Kim Machan is the director of the Multimedia Art Asia Pacific Festival. She has played a prominent role in the development of the region's art and technology scene. Based in Brisbane, Australia, the annual MAAP festival began humbly in 1997. From its earliest days, the festival has striven to identify and showcase rising young artists some of whom have gone on to international fame: Shilpa Gupta, Candy Factory of Japan and Gong Xi of China. The festival featured a range of contributors from students to stalwarts such as Stelarc, providing a diverse array of work that would not normally be seen. Machan has worked in the area of contemporary art, nationally and internationally, for the past 18 years as curator, arts producer and consultant. She pioneered art projects in free television broadcasts as producer and curator of Art Rage: Artworks for Television, commissioning over 70 artists productions from 1995--2000. She has spoken at numerous conferences and chaired Online Art in Asia at the World Wide Web Conference, Hong Kong. Machan has researched new media art networks and projects in Australia and Asia Pacific regions for the past 7 years. In 2002 she was Contributing Curator of Media City Seoul and Chief Curator of MAAP in Beijing. See the MAAP web site: http://maap.org.au.

Runner-up Regina Célia Pinto is a Brazilian artist who focuses on Web-based and CD-ROM art. Regina Pinto's utilization of technology is permeated with a poetic and playful sensibility, which has the effect of both challenging and delighting the user. Her work is characterized by a global awareness and a desire to make connections. Regina Pinto's most extensive project is The Museum of the Essential, and Beyond That. This virtual museum exhibits the work of international artists, with special emphasis on South American digital art. Regina Pinto's own artwork, consisting of multiple interactive books and game books, is featured in various parts of the web site, especially in the room labeled "Library of Marvels." The Book of Sand, for example, is a game book designed to encourage the participant to reflect on the relation of aesthetics, ethics and global events, consisting of a virtual set of dominos that allows the user to reconstruct the Twin Towers. Each piece of the game is linked to images and texts. The visitor is instructed to think of ethics and aesthetics while playing the game. Regina Pinto models her works on books, yet she allows the viewer to create individual pathways and to experience the works in unique, non-linear ways. The inclusion of games within the books greatly contributes to this effect. Regina Pinto's work invokes the joint powers of art and technology to seduce, to entertain, to connect, to challenge, to inspire and to destroy. More information can be found at http://arteonline.arq.br.

Digital artist Andres Burbano explores the interactions of science, art and technology in various capacities: as a researcher, as an individual artist and in collaborations with other artists and designers. Burbano's work ranges from documentary video (in both science and art), sound and telecommunication art to the exploration of algorithmic cinematic narratives. The broad spectrum of his work illustrates the importance and prevalence of interdisciplinary collaborative work in the field of digital art. His works include Typovideo,  created in collaboration with Hernando Barragan, a system of video streaming ASCII text that explores the interaction of new and old technologies, the relation of image and text, server technologies, compression processes and tactical media (the project can be viewed at http://atari.uniandes.edu.co/~aburbano/_html/content/typovid.html); and The Quiasma Project, created in collaboration with media artists Clemencia Echeverry and Barbara Santos, which re-imagines geography from the condition of isolation that Colombians increasingly experience as a result of the war on drugs. Burbano's independent videos Medios, II and III address specific political events in Colombia, which are nonetheless linked to global conditions. This work can be viewed at: http://www.freewaves.org/festival_2002/events/latin/colombia_faguet.html. Burbano recently finished the first part of Ways of Neuron, an experimental on-line documentary the impact of Neuroscience Research and its relationship with the nature of the mind. See http://atari.uniandes.edu.co/burbano/neurona.

Kibook is an interactive design company formed by Visieu Lac, a Vietnamese-Australian with a degree in nuclear physics, Mark Wu, a Briton of Chinese descent, and Stefan Woelwer, a German. Kibook pursues interdisciplinary projects that draw on science and lend themselves to artistic applications. See www.kibook.com.


Nalini Malani is one of the pioneers of contemporary Indian art, having had her work internationally exhibited for nearly 30 years. Although primarily a visual artist, she has in recent years moved into installation and media art. Her influence on other younger artists experimenting with different media is widely acknowledged by the art community in India. Malani's Remembering Toba Tek Singh, a 20-minute video installation, is based on a short story by the well-known writer Manto dealing with the events during the partition of the Indian sub-continent into India and Pakistan, reflecting artistically on inhuman and irrational violence. As many commentators have noted, her art often reflects on marginalized voices and is committed to protest, whether it is a response to sexual exploitation (as in her Medeaprojekt) or religious/national fanaticism (as in Hamletmachine). Her works sublimely captures the spirit of technology. The technology that is used does not intrude on the artwork, allows the artwork to retain its autonomy as a piece of art and yet makes it clear that this work has been radically altered by the use of something other than art, in this case a technological intervention. For more information and examples of her work visit www.nalinimalani.com.


Australian Hellen Sky is the creative co-director of Company in Space (CIS). Her practice has evolved through performance and image-making extended through new technologies. In CIS projects she collaborates with others to develop scores and systems for integrating multiple media and technologies into a total choreography for performative events, linking virtual physical terrains to the general public. Previous work, such as Escape Velocity (a live and telematic movement-driven performance), Data Dancing (London), Downloading Downunder (Amsterdam), SIGGRAPH (Florida), MDDF2 (Monaco) and Digital Now (Hong Kong), posed the question: Where do flesh, fragile bone, senses and perceptions fit into the new geographies of the late 20th century? More recent work such as CO 3, performed in Interact Asia Pacific Multi Media Festival (Melbourne), Future Physical ICA (London), and Arnolfini (Bristol), explored concepts of presence, and identity within virtual reality. The Light Room, a new-media movement opera, premiered at MIFA 01 & 02 (Melbourne Museum); it engaged with physical and virtual architectural worlds as a metaphor for life bridging the cusp of 20th and 21st centuries. A new work in development for 2004--2005, The Darker Edge of Night, asks questions of time and origin, perceived from the emergent new horizons of the mid-21st Century. For more about Sky's work see www.companyinspace.com.

Updated 25 February 2005.

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