Virtual cities and augmented selfies win 2016 Lumen Prize for digital art

Italian artists Fabio Giampietro and Alessio De Vecchi have taken away the top honour in 2016’s Lumen Prize – winning the digital art award with a disorientating cityscape that combines traditional painting and virtual reality.

Virtual cities and augmented selfies win 2016 Lumen Prize for digital art

“Hyperplanes of Simultaneity” consists of a large canvas painting and a digital environment. Reminiscent of a scene in Christopher Nolan’s 2010 science fiction film, Inception, the painting shows the city tumbling in on itself. Standing in front of the painting, viewers can put on a Samsung Gear VR headset to see a digital version of the scene – which appears to surround the viewer’s perspective.

The painting was made by Fabio Giampietro, with Alessio De Vecchi producing the digital portion. On the project’s website, artist Gianluca Ranzi connects the painted/VR cityscape to Italian Futurism and Spatialism.

“[Fabio Giampietro’s] work marks the liberation of painted forms from the classical framework,” writes Ranzi, “enhancing a process, already well established in the course of Italian modern and contemporary art, that started with the revolutionary theories of Futurism…and continued in the velocity of Lucio Fontana’s gesture of cutting the canvas to explore the space behind and beyond it.”


Speaking at the award ceremony in London’s Hackney House, Giampietro described his project as an example of mixed-reality art. “As a painter I wanted to do something that mixed traditional artistic techniques with new technologies, so it’s great that mixed-reality artwork is being recognised in this way.”

The Lumen Founder’s Prize went to US artist Carla Gannis, for the year-long project “The Selfie Drawings”. Gannis created a collection of 52 digitally drawn self-portraits, shared over social media and collected into an augmented-reality “book”, using the Blippar app. According to Gannis, “selfies involve a kind of online performance, where we act out our lives through a device, and, more importantly, where we are in control of framing how we want to be perceived.”


Other prize winners included a number of UK artists. Among these are Esther Rolinson and Sean Clark, who won the Sculpture Award for the cloud-like ‘Flown’, and Vicky Isley and Paul Smith of boredomresearch, who won the Moving Image Award for “

afterglow” – a computer-generated landscape, representative of the flight paths of malaria-carrying mosquitos.

The Lumen Prize has been running for five years, and is dedicated to supporting artists whose work engages with technology. This year’s awards saw 700 submissions spanning 45 different countries. Below is a full list of last night’s winners.

Full list of winners

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