The winners of the YouFab Global Creative Awards 2019 are here! Now in its 8th year, this edition welcomed 285 submissions from 43 countries, with works ranging from image fabrication, installation art, robotics and everything in between.
For the annual award that celebrates not just fabrication all around the world, but that which ‘hacks’ common sense and breaks new ground, this year went one step further with the theme ‘Conviviality: Emerging from the space between the old and new OS’. If our world, to go by the analogy, is an operating system, then we’re about due for an update; as chief judge Kei Wakabayashi says, the “systems from an older era are finally approaching their limit.”
But rather than abandoning or replacing the old OS, which is deeply rooted in our entire society, it’s a call to action for individuals and communities to transform or revolutionize the status quo; as Wakabayashi says, “We will do it ourselves.” (See message by Wakbayashi here.)
See for yourself the ways in which this year’s YouFab Awards prize winning works have successfully integrated ‘conviviality’, through vastly different mediums.
Site-specific community project takes home the Grand Prize
Penta KLabs by Indonesia’s Collective Hysteria is a site-specific art biennale in Semarang that was initiated in 2016. It deviates from other small-scale biennales in that it foregrounds location, working on cultural activities relevant within the context of the city.
Collective Hysteria have been active in Semarang for 12 years; according to them, “we realized that we needed a clear reason as to why we were still doing art things because, unlike Yogyakarta or Bandung, it’s very difficult to survive here.” The first two editions were based in Kemijen and Nongkosawit, kampoongs both facing water issues. Through field research, site visits, workshops and consultations, the events have enabled knowledge-sharing and community-building between the artist and the public.
Penta KLabs makes for an unusual entry in YouFab Grand Prize history, since, the role of technology is diminished. Yet, such community engagement practices lie at the heart of ‘convivial’ technology. “Conviviality has to do with displaying the potential we have to look for ways to solve our own problems, instead of relying on large systems or authorities to settle these issues,” says judge Keiichiro Matsumura.
“I don’t believe that there has been a single project that has more aptly embodied the term conviviality out of all of the applications for this year,” says judge Kei Wakabayashi.
*See more about Penta KLabs here.
First Prize work finds the common thread between people and machine
For The Common Thread, Israel’s Amir Zobel and Itay Blumenthal combine their strengths in algorithms and 3D fabrication to develop a high-resolution physical image fabrication method. Using a high-end image-processing algorithm and a hacked CNC milling machine, overlapping threads reveal portraits – and personal narratives.
Originally made for Jerusalem Design Week 2019, the work is an ode to the Hansen House – a former leprosy treatment facility – and the Palestinian workers there. Beyond the technical mastery, the work evokes a greater poetic connection between people and place, human and machine: each portrait is made from one single thread, which is of the same length as the distance from their house to the machine that created the final portrait.
*See more about The Common Thread here.
Special Prize picks up the STEAM
This year’s YouFab Special Prize puts the spotlight on STEAM – STEM with an extra A for Art. Working in collaboration with Panasonic and creative incubator 100BANCH (What is 100BANCH?), judges were interested in works that utilize “technology design for fostering new discoveries and creativity”.
In Stand, Japan’s Azumi Maekawa rewires how we conceptualize robotics through the addition of commonplace objects not normally applied as parts – tree branches, in this case – and in doing so, allows both robots and humans to forge new functions, movements and meanings.
It’s a work that shatters preconceived notions. As judge Toshiya Fukuda says, “if you want to make something new… you must destroy the wall of preconceived notions and become free.
*See more about Stand here.
Bird Language by Russia’s Helena Nikonole also takes a leaf from nature, applying an AI translator to bird language. As Nikonole says, “I’m inspired by the idea that Artificial Intelligence, as an un-human agent, can help us to understand birds, also un-human agents.”
Lastly, Life/Time by Thailand’s Witaya Junma is an installation that creates moving images through participants interacting with drinking glasses. With glasses in varying sizes, shapes and sounds, participants can explore the different images in subjective ways, creating their own narratives.
General Prize and Student Prize Winners
Jungle of Nusa, by Malaysian artist and producer Suzy Salaiman, is at once an interactive sound installation and an urban space intervention. Speaking into the installation, one’s voice will travel to other parts of the artwork, challenging contemporary modes of communication – especially via phones. For judge Leonhard Bartolomeus, it’s a convivial work, since “this project has brought the idea of connecting people, which allows people to talk and play through interactive sounds.”
Made by the University of Monterrey in Mexico student Camila De Ezkauriatza, Pills&Bombs by Dr.Ops (Seed Bombs) is a brand and a product that promotes ‘Guerrilla Gardening’, the act of “literally taking matters into one’s own hands” and gardening on public land. The bold and colorful packaging design is a shout out to the countercultural style of the 60s and 70s, but also reflective of the cheeky act itself.
The 2019 YouFab Awards Ceremony will be held at the end of February, with winning works set to be exhibited at the newly opened Shibuya QWS (What is Shibuya QWS?) from February 28 to March 8 2020.