Hyundai Commission: Anicka Yi


About the Exhibition

What would it feel like to share the world with machines that could live in the wild and evolve on their own? Anicka Yi transformed the Turbine Hall at the heart of Tate Modern with her vision of a new ecosystem. For Hyundai Commission: Anicka Yi: In Love With The World, Yi began with the question of what a “natural history of machines” could look and feel like, and built on previous work speculating on the possibilities of machines evolving into independent forms of life. Referencing the Turbine Hall’s original purpose of housing turbines of the former Bankside Power Station before the site was developed into a gallery, Yi populated the space with machines once again.

Moving through the air, her floating machines—called aerobes—prompted viewers to think about new ways that machines might inhabit the world. Two species of aerobes explored the Turbine Hall, exhibiting individual and group behaviors in response to different elements of their environment. “Xenojellies” have semitransparent bodies each with a different colored top and patterned tentacles, while ‘planulae’ are bulbous and covered by short yellow hair. These aerobes allowed Yi to imagine new possibilities for artificial intelligence, inspired by the diverse ways that organisms learn through their bodies and senses.

Integral to Yi’s commission as well as her wider practice are scent and air. She approaches scent as a medium for subtly shifting perceptions and giving presence to the air that we all share, and on which we depend. For Tate Modern, she created unique scent-scape that transitioned from one week to the next, evoking odors linked to a specific time in the history of Bankside. These scent-scapes created an environment that connects the aerobes with the history of the site and all other organisms that share their habitat. As the odors changed between each unique scent-scape, the aerobes' behavior and interactions developed in response.

Hyundai Commission: Anicka Yi: In Love With The World was curated by Achim Borchardt-Hume, Director of Exhibitions and Programs, Tate Modern, Mark Godfrey, former Senior Curator, International Art, Tate Modern, and Carly Whitefield, Assistant Curator, International Art, Tate Modern. Produced by Petra Schmidt, Production Manager.

About the Artist

Anicka Yi (b. 1971, Seoul, Korea) fuses artistic imagination and scientific research. Drawing on disciplines as wide ranging as biology, biochemistry, anthropology and philosophy, her work speculates about the present in relation to our shared futures including the evolution of artificial intelligence, climate emergency and migration. She has been the subject of solo exhibitions at museums including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (2017), Fridericianum in Kassel (2016), and Kunsthalle Basel (2015). Her works have featured in the Venice Biennale in 2019, the Whitney Biennial in 2017 and the Gwangju Biennale in 2016, as well as in many group exhibitions around the world. She won the Hugo Boss Prize in 2016 and has held residencies and fellowships at the Berggruen Institute in Los Angeles, the Headlands Center for the Arts, and the Center for Art Science and Technology at MIT.

About the Program

Hyundai Commission

The annual Hyundai Commission is a series of new, site-specific installations by international artists in Tate Modern’s iconic Turbine Hall, made possible by a unique partnership between Tate and Hyundai Motor. The Turbine Hall has hosted some of the world’s most memorable exhibitions and the way artists have interpreted this space has revolutionized public perceptions of contemporary art. The annual Hyundai Commission offers contemporary artists an opportunity to create new work for this unique context while bringing forward many of today’s most pressing questions.

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