Machina Aesthetica, or Impressions on Art In and Out of the Machine Age

November 8, 2023 6:30 pm

Town Hall Seattle, Livestream (Hybrid)

Headshot of Paul Chan, an Asian man looking directly at the camera with long hair that is swept up in a bun, wearing a grey shirt


In this talk, Paul will reflect on his experiences as an artist working in and out of the domains of technology. He will talk about the various kinds of technology he has used to make work, from truetype fonts and pirated software, to datasets and machine learning frameworks. He will recount periods of his artistic life when he abandoned technologies as instruments of production. And he will offer an idiosyncratic account of a lineage of artists and writers he admires who used and abused technology in aspects of their work, and how their dynamic and at times contentious relationship with technology proved vital to their understanding of what art under the influence of historical and social progress looks like.

About the speaker

Paul Chan

Artist, Writer, Publisher

Paul Chan is an artist, writer, and publisher who lives in New York. His work has been featured in international group exhibitions such as Documenta 13, the 53rd Venice Biennale, and the 2006 Whitney Biennial. Solo exhibitions have been mounted at The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, The Cycladic Museum of Art in Athens, The Renaissance Society in Chicago, The Serpentine Gallery in London, and the New Museum in New York. His work is held in the collections of Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Guggenheim Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, among many other public and private institutions. Chan is the winner of the Hugo Boss Prize in 2014, a biennial award honoring artists who have made a visionary contribution to contemporary art. In 2022, Chan was named a MacArthur Fellow. 

In 2002, Chan was a part of Voices in the Wilderness, an American aid group that broke U.S. sanctions and federal law by working in Baghdad before the U.S. invasion and occupation. In 2004 he garnered police attention for The People’s Guide to the Republican National Convention, a free map distributed throughout New York to help protesters to get in or out of the way of the RNC. In 2007, Chan collaborated with the Classical Theatre of Harlem and Creative Time to produce a site-specific outdoor presentation of Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot in New Orleans. Chan’s essays and interviews have appeared in Artforum, Frieze, Flash Art, October, Texte Zur Kunst, Bomb, and other magazines and journals. Chan founded Badlands Unlimited, a press devoted to publishing artist writings and writings about art in paper and digital forms in 2010. Badlands authors includes Marcel Duchamp, Yvonne Rainer, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Martine Syms, Dread Scott, Aruna D’Souza, among many others. 

Event Accessibility

The University is committed to providing access, equal opportunity, and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, education, and employment for individuals with disabilities. To request disability accommodations, contact the UW Disability Services Office at least 10 days in advance at 206-543-6450 (voice), 206-543-6452 (TTY), 206-685-7264 (fax), or