Meet Jing Dong: The Artist&Creative Engineer in Art and Technology

How do I define myself
I am a multifaceted media artist and technology developer currently based in Los Angeles, California. With my unique combination of a full-time position as a software engineer at a leading technology company and my thriving art practice, I see myself as a pioneer in bridging the gap between these two fields. I earned my MFA in Art and Technology/Integrated Media from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in 2021, where I honed my skills in interactive installations, sound-visual experiences, software systems, and artificial intelligence art. My works have been exhibited in renowned events such as Ars electronica, re: connections, JACCC Release: Heard in LA Exhibition, Digital Future, and Coaxialarts Art + Technology.

What does art mean to technology in my artworks

I am currently working at a giant tech company as a software engineer, mainly responsible for front-end development. My experience in the computer software industry has given me valuable insight into user interaction, front-end, software architecture, and data. I am not mystified by technology because I find its actual and potential influences interesting. I’m intrigued by the ways in which technology secretly changes our environment, thereby shaping our concepts and behavior. As a professional in both computer science and multi-media art, I can better understand the perplexing relationships between these two fields, that is, I’m well positioned to make sense of how they can be disentangled and how their hidden networks can be revealed. Technology has always existed in art, from painting to photography, film to digital art, and generative art. Technology has always been the tool of art, and, reflexively, art has always been reshaping the use of technology as well as our understanding of the human experience.

Driven by my full and unconditional embrace of the present moment as an artist and software engineer, I create art that purposefully raises questions about the ways in which technology currently and potentially affects our relationship with the world as well as the ways in which the intertwining of art and technology can become more relevant and socially responsible. Obviously, technology is extremely dominant, aggressive, cold, and confining, which is precisely why I believe that artists need to foster a more thoughtful and intentional balance between invasive technological innovations and the struggle for human dignity, particularly in relation to marginalized groups who already suffer more from inequality, isolation, and injustice. The philosopher Heidegger reminds all of us, especially those of us who are artists working in the technology industry, that “art holds power that could save humans from the danger of being consumed by technology.” As someone deeply and restlessly immersed in this dual frame, I derive understanding and hope from art’s humane, poetic, and liberating potential to offer a therapeutic remedy to technology’s lifeless, narrow, and confining trajectory.

What is interesting to me

When I first entered the art world, I created works about human emotions, loneliness, and the experiences of marginalized groups by presenting artworks in the form of data visualization, installation, and wearable devices. Upon entering the Art and Tech program subsequently, I continued developing projects dealing with emotions; however, my new projects began exploring human consciousness, poetic wondering, and body dynamics. In these projects I experimented with incorporating more complex and flexible algorithms, software, and machine intelligence, which in turn has made my art more interactive than ever before. I continue to explore the following concepts: how the human body and technology have evolved together and shaped each other in the posthuman era; how we create digital and virtual objects, and how they in turn affect the physical world; what the fate of human beings’ intelligence, software, and machines is; whether machine intelligence is creative and can generate art; what the identity of humans will be; and whether humans will eventually be exiled by machine intelligence and how.

My recent artworks

I’ve created several works recently, including, The Hidden Space, Poetic Imagination, and The Universe as It Was, which mainly revolve around the following topics: the non-existent things created by machine intelligence, such as poems or images, dealing with chance and dynamics, and collaborating with the artist in various ways. For Poetic Imagination, I chose AI-generated text as the medium to explore the collision of the human body, text, and machine intelligence. Language is more than words and symbols, it is the driving force of thought. Texts evoke specific material relationships with imaginary worlds that generate human-intelligible meanings. AI-generated text reminds us that the web is entangled with our physical body with its electronic substance. In this dance performance, the artificial intelligence software built an environment that invites artists to participate and interact. The generated poems are triggered by specific movements of the dancers. Dancers improvise new moves after reading the generated poems. Then the improvised movement produces new poetry. The whole process is like a feedback loop. Body movements and machine language influence and reshape each other, as input and output.

The projects I am currently working on

Posthuman is a concept I am exploring in my upcoming piece. The posthuman is presented through forms of hybrid intelligence, or blends of human and non-human elements, using technology to enhance human abilities and transcend human limitations. My art research on

posthumans is mainly about hybrid intelligence, which means our consciousness is mixed with artificial intelligence. I am interested in how we will be reshaped by technology and the ethical questions that will be raised in this process. A lot of my work explores how we interact with software or machine and how we humans activity as part of a larger ecosystem. Therefore, I am also interested in questioning the relationship between humans and the natural world. It is always fascinating to me how human and machine activity in the natural environment, and how we coexist as part of a larger ecosystem.

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