Silicon Valley Defined by Contemporary Art and Technology

Will Pappenheimer for Manifest.AR, Signs Over Semiconductors, 2012

ZERO1 Biennial Expands to Include Bay Area Partners
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Berkeley Art Museum, eBay Inc,
and many more

San Jose, CA. April 2012 – ZERO1: The Art & Technology Network, which fosters and celebrates the creative fusion of contemporary art and technology, announces this year’s vastly expanded ZERO1 Biennial, a dynamic network of more than 100 exhibitions, performances, public art projects and panels that will spread from Silicon Valley throughout the Bay Area and beyond from September 12 through December 8.

Exploring the theme “Seeking Silicon Valley,” the 2012 ZERO1 Biennial, with over 40 new and returning partners, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Berkeley Art Museum, UC Berkeley’s Center for New Media, and Stanford’s Center for Creativity and the Arts, will showcase the work of scores of contemporary artists at the forefront of new media, some collaborating with iconic Silicon Valley companies.

They include such leading figures as:

  • Digital artist and designer Jer Thorp.
  • Multimedia installation artists Lynn Hershman Leeson, Shu Lea Cheang and Stephanie Syjuco.
  • British director and “experience designer” Nelly Ben Hayoun, who’s commissioned work is NASA-inspired.
  • German photographer Michael Najjar.
  • The international artists’ collective Manifest.AR, which uses mobile augmented reality apps that prompt participants to re-imagine the corporate campuses and products of Silicon Valley.
  • Mexican-born media artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, whose interactive video and sound work Frequency and Volume will be on view at SFMOMA as part of the Biennial.

Thorp, the New York Times’ celebrated Data Artist in Residence, and his colleague Mark Hansen have been commissioned to create a data-driven installation in collaboration with eBay Inc, which the public can view at the Internet giant’s San Jose campus. It’s one of several ZERO1 Biennial installations that artists are creating in partnership with iconic Silicon Valley companies.

“Silicon Valley is an idea as much as a place,” says Biennial Lead Curator and ZERO1’s Director of Programs Jaime Austin. “It’s about entrepreneurship, innovation, collaboration, technology and creativity. Like the technologists who have helped make the region famous, artists are innate risk-takers. The artworks featured in the 2012 ZERO1 Biennial will challenge our notions of place and identity as they investigate the role Silicon Valley has played in changing the way we work, live, and communicate globally.”

Bringing a global perspective to this fourth Biennial, Austin tapped four prominent international women curators to collaborate with her in shaping the Biennial exhibition: Dooeun Choi, the former creative director of the Art Center Nabi in Seoul, South Korea; Brazilian artist-curator Gisela Domschke; the Canadian-born, Amsterdam-based writer and curator Michelle Kasprzak; and German artist and writer Regina Möller.

Each curator selected some of the artists featured in the core Biennial exhibition on view at the new ZERO1 Garage, supported in part by ArtPlace and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, in San Jose’s downtown SoFA district. Designed by San Francisco architect Christopher Haas, who worked with the Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron on the new de Young Museum, the Biennial exhibition space will also be the hub of the Biennial programming, which will come to life on the streets of San Jose, in vacant storefronts, art and tech museums, and galleries around the Bay Area.  Much of the action takes place during the opening weekend, September 12-16.

In addition to commissioning and displaying works by established artists, ZERO1, which recognizes the crucial role students and garage inventors have played in the creation of Silicon Valley, is giving dozens of small grants to emerging tech-minded artists. Their work will fill the Biennial’s opening-weekend Friday night street exhibition, which will cover a three-block area of downtown San Jose, transforming the district into a singular Silicon Valley village.


The main ZERO1 Biennial exhibition will feature 24 works, half of them commissions. They include French artist Maurice Benayoun’s Tunnels Around the World. A co-commission with Media City Seoul – a South Korean biennial occurring simultaneously – the interactive installation, which has its roots in the artist’s pioneering 1995 Tunnel under the Atlantic that connected Paris’ Pompidou Center to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Montreal, will link San Jose and Seoul. Participants on either side of the Pacific will “dig” through images from art history and talk to each other telematically through the virtual tunnel.

Hostage pt. 1 is a painting made with nanotechnology by Belgian artist Frederik De Wilde, on loan for the Biennial exhibition. De Wilde made the work after he won the 2010 Ars Electronica The Next Idea Art and Technology Grant to create the darkest nano-engineered painting in the world in collaboration with Rice University.

Artist and designer Jae Rhim Lee’s commissioned Infinity Burial Project Decomp Me is an iPad app and intervention that invites technocrats, singularitans, and the general public to turn away from death denial and postmortem body preservation and to face and accept death and decomposition.  The piece is an interactive, digital visualization of a user's face and body decomposing and transforming into clusters of Infinity Mushrooms.  The app will show the user how to photograph his or her face, to 'spore' the image, and display an interactive, animated video of it decomposing and transforming into mushrooms.  

Brazilian artist Lucas Bambozzi’s Mobile Crash v2 uses Twitter feeds and videos of hammers smashing outdated computers, cell phones and other devices to comment on the global accumulation of e-trash and technological detritus. The video sequences are linked to a script fed by data streaming across the Internet – Tweets that talk about e-waste.  The speed and intensity of the object smashing varies according to the density of Twitter activity.

Discarded computer keyboards also play a crucial role in Shu Lea Cheang’s interactive Baby Work installation. A mechanical crane will pick up and hurl the keyboards, smashing apart the keys, leaving “broken words, forgotten memory,” says Cheang, an influential Taiwanese-born artist and filmmaker. Visitors can pick through the pile, select keys and plug them into a big wired-up metal wall (made from keyboard parts) that sounds a note when a key is inserted. Unexpected tunes will randomly arise.

Photographer Michael Najjar casts the dot-com boom and bust as landscape in nasdaq_80-09, manipulating images he shot on Argentina’s towering Mt. Aconcagua to map the peaks and valleys of the technology-fueled NASDAQ stock exchange. 


Working with the San Jose Public Art Program, ZERO1, whose major supporters include the National Endowment for the Arts and the James Irvine Foundation, is commissioning public art projects that will light up the downtown streets and actively engage the public.  They include Datagrove by Future Cities Lab, the award-winning San Francisco experimental architectural design and research firm, who will create a grove of glowing vertical forms, lit by LEDs, that will translate live social-media data and atmospheric phenomena into shifting patterns and intensities of light and sound. The Grove’s luminescent fibers will respond to the data and the presence of people, who will hear a voice whispering data streams.      

Biennial visitors can play with Manifest.AR’s augmented reality artworks  – which superimpose virtual objects on specific sites using geolocation software – using their mobile devices. They’ll see the artists’ vision of places around Silicon Valley, San Francisco, and Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, home of ZERO1 Biennial’s partner organization Bucknell University’s Samek Art Gallery, which is presenting the project.

Another important new addition to this year’s Biennial is ArtHERE, a new community website and open-call platform. Developed by Bay Area artists, it brings art projects into empty spaces, connecting artists with business owners and organizations. Co-founded by UC Santa Cruz professor Jennifer Parker, a specialist in new media and interactive art, and created in collaboration with Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, ArtHERE launches at the Biennial, where it will help put art in storefronts and on the sides of buildings, in parklets and other public places, activating city spaces with works that reflect the innovative spirit of Silicon Valley.


In 1966, artist Robert Rauschenberg and engineer Billy Klüver led a team of artists, dancers and engineers in the creation of 9 evenings: Theatre and Engineering, a historic series of experimental New York performances that merged art and technology. Inspired by that series, the ZERO1 Biennial aims to reflect the interdisciplinary nature of Silicon Valley by presenting nine live performances featuring artists using new technologies to enrich their work. The performances will take place over nine consecutive weeks at venues around Silicon Valley and San Francisco, presented by Biennial collaborating partners such as SFMOMA, Stanford University and Southern Exposure.

The performances bring together a diverse range of artists, among them the drummers of San Jose Taiko and musician, installation and video artist Tim Thompson, performing together in San Jose’s Mexican Heritage Plaza. The acclaimed Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet will join forces with the renowned new media artist Jim Campbell, who merges film, sound and LED light installations, for a performance at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

“Reflecting the organizational mission of ZERO1,” says ZERO1 Executive Director Joel Slayton, “the Biennial enables exceptional contemporary artists, well versed in technology, science and engineering to achieve extraordinary creative outcomes that inspire and provoke change. “This year” he adds, “the ZERO1 Biennial will open the Silicon Valley tech corridor to the potential for artistic genius. With over 40 cultural and tech partners, and the Biennial’s exhibitions and programming spanning the entirety of the Bay Area, ZERO1 is perfectly poised to clearly demonstrate that contemporary art can successfully re-imagine the idea, the place, and the experience of Silicon Valley.”

For more information, images, or interviews contact:

Wendy Norris, Norris Communications

(415) 307-3853 or or

Image Caption:

Will Pappenheimer for Manifest.AR, Signs Over Semiconductors, 2012

Background photo by Joe Ravi

About ZERO1: The Art & Technology Network

ZERO1 is where art meets technology to shape the future.  As a 21st century arts nonprofit, ZERO1 works with some of the world’s most fertile and creative minds from the fields of art, science, design, architecture, and technology to produce the ZERO1 Biennial, an international showcase of work at the nexus of art and technology. ZERO1 is also the force behind the ZERO1 Garage, where principles of artistic creativity are applied to real world innovation challenges. Part incubator, part research lab, part think tank, the ZERO1 Garage informs strategies for research, development, and creativity. 
To find out more about ZERO1, visit

About the ZERO1 Biennial

The ZERO1 Biennial, distributed throughout Silicon Valley and the greater Bay Area, is North America’s most significant and comprehensive showcase of work at the nexus of art and technology. Through curated exhibitions, public art installations, performances, and speaker events, the ZERO1 Biennial presents work by a global community of innovative artists who are reshaping contemporary culture. Established in 2006, the ZERO1 Biennial has presented the work of more than 500 artists from more than 50 countries; commissioned 80 original works of art, attracted over 100,000 visitors from around the world, and contributed $20 million in economic revenue to the region.

2012 ZERO1 Biennial Partners

Alonzo King LINES Ballet, The Art, Technology and Culture Colloquium, Berkeley Center for New Media, Bay Area Glass Institute, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, BLUEMiND 2, CADRE Laboratory for New Media at San Jose State University, Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, Cinequest, City of San Jose Public Art Program, Come Out and Play Festival, Computer History Museum, Dublin Science Gallery, Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, Headlands Center for the Arts, Illuminate the Arts/The Bay Lights Project, Institute for the Future, Kapsul, MACLA / Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana, Media City Seoul, Montalvo Arts Center, Northern, Performance Art Institute, Palo Alto Art Center, Palo Alto Arts Commission, Samek Art Gallery, Bucknell University, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, San Jose, Museum of Art, San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, San Jose Repertory Theater, San Jose Taiko, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, SOMArts, Southern Exposure, SPUR, Stanford Institute for Creativity and the Arts, swissnex San Francisco, Taipei Cultural Center, The Lab, The Tech Museum, The Natalie & James Thompson Gallery at San Jose State University, Ural Industrial Biennial, Worth Ryder Art Gallery at University of California, Berkeley

2012 ZERO1 Biennial Media Sponsors

7x7 - Art in America - Art Ltd. – Fast Company - SF Weekly

2012 ZERO1 Biennial Corporate Sponsors

Adobe – Applied Materials

2012 ZERO1 Foundation Support

ArtPlace – William and Flora Hewlett Foundation – James Irvine Foundation – John S. and James L. Knight Foundation – National Endowment for the Arts – David and Lucile Packard Foundation

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