Lawrence Lek

Lawrence Lek

Lawrence Lek, b. 1982, Frankfurt, Germany; active LondonLawrence Lek / Photo by Ilyes Griyeb. Copyright Art Basel 2019.

Currently based in London, the Malaysian-Chinese multimedia artist, filmmaker and musician, Lawrence Lek uses computer generated imagery and advancing technologies such as VR to develop digital environments he describes as by ‘three dimensional collages of found objects and situations’. His works engage issues of climate change, globalization and xenophobia by probing the empathic relationship humans might have with artificial intelligence devices and the ways such technologies question ethical, moral and legal precedent. By rendering real places (specific geographic sites) within fictional scenarios, his digital environments reflect the impact of the virtual on our perception of reality.

During 2020 (excepting the first two months) Princeton University students, faculty, classes and campus activities gathered from remote locations in virtual rooms facilitated by digital technologies and applications as a precautionary measure against the spread of the Covid-19 virus. In conceiving the annual Elson International Artist in Residence program for this year, the Art Museum thus began with the question: what might it mean to host, to engage with, and to be an artist “in residence” at a time when international travel is restricted, and in-person gatherings are taking place in virtual spaces?

This year the Elson residency prioritized an artist whose work engages deeply with the conceptual terrain of virtual interactions, probing the ways digitization transforms the fabric of local communities, impacts international relations, and expands the possible definitions of reality. UK-based, Chinese artist Lawrence Lek creates work using computer-generated technologies for digital dissemination and to be experienced via screens. In this way, students, classes and the public with whom he will interact during the residency will have a first-hand experience of his art rather than a digital illustration of a work intended for gallery installation.

Born in 1982 in Frankfurt, Germany, Lek received his Bachelor’s in Architecture at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, an Archicture diploma from the Architectural Association in London, England and a Master of Architecture II from The Cooper Union in New York. He is currently a doctoral candidate in Machine Learning at the Royal College of Art in London, England. His work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions throughout Europe and Hong Kong, and is included in the collections of the Guggenheim Museums, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Busan, Korea; British Council, London, England; Museum of London, England; and the Rubell Family Collection, Florida.