With curiosity and technology, these artists explore the “spirit of being”

What does it mean to be alive in an era where technology, media, economic disparity, diversity, global health, and the climate crisis are part of our everyday lives and conversations? Meet six pioneering artists who are using technology to explore these themes in Spirit of Being, a virtual and in-person immersive art experience hosted by The Microsoft Garage in partnership with cultural agency Hatchers.

New York City has forever been home to leading-edge artists who embrace the latest in technical innovation and emerging social trends in their work. The city is fueled by their energy and wears their creations proudly.

True to that spirit, The Microsoft Garage has partnered with curator Heather Falconer and cultural agency Hatchers, who designed an immersive virtual gallery showcasing artists sharing a curious nature, a love of experimentation, and a passion for exploring new possibilities.

Known as a worldwide community of curiosity-driven explorers, hackers, and passionate volunteers, The Microsoft Garage runs programs focusing on collaboration and experimentation and produces the world’s largest private hackathon each year. They’re now bringing that commitment to discovery and cultural transformation to the art world in New York City.

The gallery

Spirit of Being is the first exhibit at Microsoft’s new research and development facility in Lower Manhattan, The Microsoft Garage Gallery. Originally intended to be an in-person exhibition open to the public (which has been delayed until it’s safe to do so), the exhibit now includes an immersive online experience—viewable by mobile, desktop, or VR headset—so that all the creative works can be seen and experienced by people around the world. This initial exhibit features six leading artists who have found ways to embrace technology as a key element of their stories.

“Each of the artists selected communicate important issues through the power of the art. Their spirit is educating, inspiring, and helping create a better tomorrow."

– Heather Falconer, Creative Director, Hatchers

The artists

Meet the Garage Gallery’s inaugural group of multidisciplinary artists, who are innovating with visual art, sound, sculpture, and technology as a means of expression, education, and communication:

Beatie Wolfe

"Musical weirdo and visionary" Beatie Wolfe is an artist who has beamed her music into space, been appointed a UN Women role model for innovation, and held an acclaimed solo exhibition of her world first album designs at the Victoria & Albert Museum. The Barbican recently commissioned a documentary about Beatie Wolfe's pioneering work titled Orange Juice for the Ears: From Space Beams to Anti-Streams, and Wolfe's latest innovation is an environmental protest piece built using 800,000 years of historic data which will be premiered at the London Design Biennale in 2021. Most recently Beatie has spoken and performed at the prestigious Nobel Prize Summit.

JGoldcrown

Born in West London, JGoldcrown is a self-taught artist/photographer based in Los Angeles. In 2007, James moved to New York. He began incorporating mixed media into his photography influenced by his previous days as a street artist in the early 90’s. His many projects led to his first show at Miami Basel, where his work sold out in two hours. Now internationally renowned for his Bleeding Hearts/Lovewall murals, he has collaborated with brands and companies such as, Toms, Rag & Bone, Sephora, Island Records, Universal, MTV, Vogue, Bandier, Henri Bendel, Armani, and more.

Detail from artist JGoldcrown’s Thin Line Between Love and Hate, neon and paint on canvas.

Sadie Clayton

A sculptor exploring the dynamic boundaries between art, nature, and technology, Sadie Clayton works specifically with copper—a material that is known for its healing properties. Having worked with institutions such as the Royal Academy of Arts and the Tate, Clayton is now embarking on a series of large public sculptures to extend the beauty and benefits of this material into the wider community.

As an essential nutrient for the body, copper helps to maintain healthy bones, blood vessels, nerves, and immune function. This metal has also been found to repel coronavirus pathogens at a faster rate than any other material at 45 minutes versus 24 hours.

Stuart Semple

One of the UK’s leading post Young British Artists (YBA), Stuart Semple is best known for his Happy Cloud performance from Tate Modern, the ongoing ‘Art Wars’—started when artist Anish Kapoor secured the exclusive rights to use Vantablack (sparking his creation of the ‘Pinkest Pink’, available to all but Kapoor)—‘Happy City’ (a project which took over the city of Denver for a summer of large-scale public artworks), and the launch of HostileDesign.org as a campaign to fight design crimes against humanity. Semple has been honored as a UN Happiness Hero. Stuart is also an ambassador for Mind, the mental health charity.

Installation view from Stuart Semple’s exhibition space inside Spirit of Being, showcasing his photograph I Should Be Crying - But I Just Can’t Let It Show, his steel sculpture I Should Be Crying - I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again, and a 360° video experience Happy Clouds.

Maria Kozak

A new media artist and painter based in New York, Maria Kozak’s work is about the absurdity of being human and man’s relationship with himself, society, nature, technology, and the sublime. She has recently exhibited at Sotheby’s, The Detroit Public Library, and SPRING/BREAK Art Show. Her work has been featured on Artsy, Cool Hunting, and in Paper Magazine. Kozak was recently awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) grant and Schusterman Foundation Fellowship for her work in emerging technology and is a community member of NEW INC, the New Museum incubator for art and technology.

Uttam Grandhi

An Elastic Mind Enthusiast, Uttam Grandhi is based in Brooklyn. His interests span origami, electronics, code, fabrication, and mixed reality. He is an alumni of NYU-ITP, Vancouver Film School, and BITS-Pilani, India. His artworks have been exhibited at venues such as Cartier, MIT, Tokyo University, the Rubin Museum of Art, National Museum of Mathematics, Gulliver’s Gate (Miniature Museum), SIGGRAPH, World Maker Faire New York, Internet Yami Ichi, AMNH, and Chuck Jones Center for Creativity, among many other national and international venues. He has been recognized by MIT, Harvard University, and NASA for his inventions in augmented reality and origami.

A still image view from artist Uttam Grandhi’s virtual reality experience Graphic Gratitude.

Still image view from artist Beatie Wolfe’s Raw Space. Raw Space was released as the world’s first live 360° AR experience, combining live 360° stereoscopic video of Wolfe’s physical record stream from the quietest room on earth.

Installation view from Maria Kozak’s exhibition space inside Spirit of Being. Showcased here are still images from her interactive website Bucolic Terrains (Left), which generates as the viewer moves through it, immersing them in sound and image, and from her HD Video DanceLife (Right), which is an interactive, motion capture installation where participants are scanned using a Microsoft Kinect and projected as a new avatar with imagery from the natural world.

Installation view of artist Sadie Clayton’s Reviive mobile sculpture which is made from copper and has been rendered digitally for the virtual gallery space. Clayton uses copper in hopes of bringing healing and spiritual benefits to those that interact with it.

Installation view of artist JGoldcrown’s Thin Line Between Love and Hate, neon and paint on canvas (Right) and Multi-Colored Hearts Bordered, paint on canvas (Left).

Installation view of artist Uttam Grandhi’s The Lotus Effect, A participatory installation for times of transformation. As part of a collaboration with the Rubin Museum, Grandhi invited participants to fold origami lotuses and contribute to an evolving physical installation. The installation served as community-built symbol of gratitude.

Welcome to Spirit of Being

The Microsoft Garage Gallery is now open for immersive visits, allowing audiences to explore the multi-sensory work of these eye-opening artists.

For updates on visiting the gallery in person, follow The Microsoft Garage Twitter account.

"Being able to share this type of experience with people around the world is important for us."

– Mike Pell, Director, Microsoft Garage – NYC

The Microsoft Garage plans to continue using this experimental gallery to showcase the latest works from pioneering artists who imagine a better tomorrow, building upon a long line of greatness, ingenuity, and creativity throughout New York City’s history.

Hatchers is a cultural agency, collaborating with those who share their spirit of community, innovation and impact. Hatchers mission is to hold space, to educate, and to inspire each other, and future generations. Encourage collaboration and build community.