Founded in 2004 but taking place as a triennial from 2006 onwards, Device Art is an unruly, spectacular and frequently messy group exhibition organised by Kontejner, the Zagreb-based curatorial team who specialise in exploring the interface between science, art and play.
Subtitled ‘a festival of robotics, inventions and gadgets’, Device Art has in the past fused an interest in new technology with a fascination with obsolete machines. Their events have always had a strong inter-active element – audiences are invited to poke around and play with the exhibits rather than look and admire.
This year’s Device Art will be organised in association with CIANT (the International Centre for Art and New Technologies based in the Czech Republic), and the exhibition – featuring contemporary artists from Croatia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia – will visit both Ljubljana and Prague after being shown in Zagreb. The triennial’s past partners have included San Francisco’s blasthaus, who closed 2006’s event with a carnivalesque battle of the robots in the backyard of the Mo±vara club. Device Art 2009 involved artists from Japan and provided an oblique commentary on our gadget-obsessed world – art-troupe Maywa Denki’s Knockman, a musical toy that beats its own head, has subsequently become something of a mascot for the Device Art project.
Kontejner-curated shows have a habit of confronting audiences with the kind of unusual, offbeat and in-your-face art they wouldn’t normally see in gallery-land, and they pull in a relatively big public as a result. Contemporary art as circus it may be, but it will still give you plenty to ponder in the aftermath.
Device Art is at the Student Centre from October 10-14. More information on www.kontejner.org