Alex May (b. 1972) is a British contemporary artist questioning how our individual and collective experiences of time, and formation of memories and cultural records, are mediated, expanded, and directed by contemporary technologies. His work forges creative links between art, science, and technology through a wide range of digital new media, including virtual and augmented reality, photogrammetry, algorithmic photography, interactive robotic artworks, video projection mapping, generative works, performance, and video and sound art.
His international exhibition profile includes Ars Electronica, LABoral (Spain), IMPAKT (Netherlands), FACT (Liverpool), Furtherfield (London), WRO Media Art Bienalle (Poland), HeK (Basel), The Francis Crick Institute, Bletchley Park, Eden Project, Science Gallery in Dublin (Ireland) and Bengaluru (India), ZHI Art Museum (China), and the Beall Center for Art + Technology, University of California, Irvine.
He gives talks about many aspects of digital art, art/science collaboration, digital preservation, and public engagement with social robotics through art (UCLA, USC, School of Visual Arts (SVA) New York, University of Boulder, SUNY, TEDx Bucharest, Chelsea College of Art (in conversation with curator Robert Storr), Waag Society in Amsterdam) and runs workshops for artists using his own software (UCLA, for Fluxmedia at Concordia University in Montreal, International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA) in Istanbul), and gave the 2012 Christmas lecture for the Computer Arts Society.
Alex is a Visiting Research Fellow: Artist in Residence with the computer science department of University of Hertfordshire since 2011, and a Digital Media Arts MA sessional lecturer at the University of Brighton since 2012, and the University of Hertfordshire since 2019.
He is the Head of Projective Geometry at The Institute of Unnecessary Research.
A Kolkata, 2021, 6’36”
A Kolkata is a video artwork realised within the framework of the Indo-European Residency Project Kolkata 2021, supported by EUNIC – European Union National Institutes for Culture in collaboration with the British Council, Kolkata.
The work is a reflection on the experience and role of travel from the perspective of being locked down due to the pandemic. If we are to curb our travel to reduce our carbon impact on the world, do we need to redefine our idea of having visited a place being entirely a physical act.
Due to the pandemic, the entire residency took place online, with one selected artist from France, Germany, Italy, India, and the UK exploring the city of Kolkata virtually via a curated collection of materials and online events.
During the residency, Alex collaborated with four Kolkata based photographers to capture physical elements of Kolkata as 3d models. Following a workshop that introduced the technique, each photographer was asked to go out and select objects that act as personal markers for how they navigate the city. By taking a number of 2d photographs of each object from different angles, Alex was then able to recreate these objects in 3d using photogrammetry software.
These disparate objects were then digitally combined into a visual poem that reflects on what it means to have been to a place. Partially inspired by an intense lucid dream of walking through Kolkata that Alex had during the residency, the work is a deeply personal exploration of the idea of a city never visited.
Video and soundtrack by Alex May.
Made in collaboration with: