Ever at the forefront of innovation and taste, The Peninsula Hong Kong demonstrates its commitment to the arts once again this spring by playing host to a beguiling installation by pioneering British artist Conrad Shawcross RA. The second installment in the hotel’s ongoing creative collaboration with the esteemed British institution the Royal Academy of Arts (RA), Shawcross’ The ADA Project combines the tenets of sculpture, robotics and music to create a unique and dramatic visual performance that will be on show in The Peninsula’s iconic Lobby from 22 March to 6 April 2016.
Timed to coincide with the fourth edition of Art Basel Hong Kong, the installation marks the latest chapter in the “Love Art at The Peninsula” initiative, the hotel’s groundbreaking program of exhibitions and events that celebrate creativity in all its forms, most notably with the commitment to public art. Reflecting Hong Kong’s thriving position on the global arts scene and growing importance as a cultural hub, Love Art has previously featured works by Tracey Emin RA, whose My Heart Is With You Always graced the hotel’s tower façade in 2014, and Richard Wilson RA, whose groundbreaking installation Hang On A Minute Lads, I’ve Got a Great Idea is widely regarded as a pioneering public artwork of a scale that was unprecedented in Hong Kong, for the launch of The Peninsula’s partnership with the RA in 2015.
Comprised of a series of collaborations between Shawcross, the youngest Royal Academician, and leading contemporary musical composers, The ADA Project turns the traditional commissioning process on its head by using a re-programmed industrial robot as a catalyst for the creation of music and choreography. Taking an industrial robot arm that is most commonly used on automated assembly lines, Shawcross reprogrammed ADA to perform four different predetermined choreographed routines, before playing respective routines to each composer to inspire their musical response.
The installation, which was first exhibited at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, in 2013 and at MONA, Tasmania, in 2014, sees the resulting compositions played to accompany the robot’s choreographed sequences.
In creating this work, Shawcross drew inspiration from Ada Lovelace, the 19th century mathematician, and daughter of Lord Byron, who is credited as being the world’s first computer programmer. Working alongside Charles Babbage, who is often described as “the father of the computer”, Lovelace predicted that Babbage’s proposed counting machine – known as the “Difference Engine” – could, one day, “compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent”, and wrote an algorithm that many consider to be the first ever computer program, although it was never put into action in its day.
The ADA Project will be on display in The Peninsula’s Lobby from 22 March to 6 April 2016, encompassing four live performances by the British composer Mira Calix, at 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm on 23 March coinciding with the hotel’s iconic Afternoon Tea service and on the evening of 24 March at the hotel’s Art Gala. The installation will be in “Salon Mode” at all other times, as a spellbinding robotic jukebox, performing all four musical sequences at other times during the day. In addition, The Peninsula will exhibit a series of accompanying prints by Shawcross for the duration of The ADA Project. On display in the hotel’s 1/F exhibition space, the prints offer additional insight into the artist’s unique thinking and the philosophical, mathematical and theological processes behind the installation.
About Love Art at The Peninsula
Launched in 2014, Love Art at The Peninsula is an ongoing program of innovative events and art experiences that aim to enrich and celebrate Hong Kong’s burgeoning visual art scene. Building on The Peninsula’s longstanding history of arts patronage and its location close to the eagerly anticipated M+ Museum for Visual Culture, which is set to open in West Kowloon in 2019, Love Art at The Peninsula gives hotel guests and the Hong Kong public the opportunity to see works by some of the world’s most exciting artists in a unique and heritage-rich setting. Previous highlights include My Heart Is With You Always by Tracey Emin RA, an animation based on one of the British artist’s neon artworks projected onto the façade of The Peninsula’s tower (2014); Three Hundred Leafs, a site-specific installation by Chinese artist Su Xiaobai in the hotel’s Lobby (2014); and the installation Hang On A Minute Lads, I’ve Got a Great Idea by British artist and sculptor Richard Wilson RA, which featured a full-sized replica of a bus which appeared to be teetering on the edge of the hotel’s seventh-floor Sun Terrace (2015).