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Tsaibernetics: trans-generational cybernetic art

Wen-Ying Tsai, London Tsai, Ming-Yi Tsai

July 21,2023 - December 03,2023
London Tsai, To the Ends of the World, 2010

July 21, 2023 December 3, 2023

The term ‘Tsaibernetics‘ was coined by Wen-Ying Tsai to convey the concept of unique nature of his art, deriving from the process of exploration of the connections between cybernetic or kinetic art and dynamic visual art forms, resulting in an original shape of the cybernetic aesthetics. Wen-Ying Tsai points to the phenomenon of feedback (a process, in which the message or signal goes back to its source in order to influence the source’s further actions) as to the basic attribute of cybernetic art connected, on the audio(visual) level, with other essential features of his art, defining both the structure of the work and its perception  such as light and stroboscope, oscillation, vibration,  energy content, as well as participation. Combined, those features make up an effect, so characteristic for the Tsai’s works, of creating a semi-artificial and semi-organic life form. 

The exhibition will display not only the most important works of the pioneer of cybernetic sculpture, Wen-Ying Tsai, but also the artistic and scientific achievements of his sons:  London and Ming, who, inspired by their father’s work, continue his oeuvre, re-defining it by using a different field of practice. For the Tsais the fundamental ideas of cybernetics: feedback and homeostasis are still the underlying principles in their art, and the term Tsaibernetics from the current perspective has become a category defining the common working style of Wen-Ying, London and Ming Tsai.

One of Wen-Ying Tsai’s work, entitled Multi-kinetic Wall , will be presented during the exhibition. It is a modular piece with unique, moving units in bright colours mounted on gyroscopic rotating rings. There will also be examples of Wen-Ying Tsai’s most significant achievements – Cybernetic sculptures – which he created using his background in mechanical engineering. He developed an electronic feedback system to control stroboscopic lights and induce harmonic vibrations in bundles of stainless steel rods mounted on mechanized aluminium plates. Those cybernetic sculptures were first shown at The Howard Wise Gallery in 1968. Then the public could see them at the Jasi Reichardt “Cybernetic Serendipity” exhibition at ICA in London and at Pontus Hulten exhibition entitled “The Machine as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age” at MoMA in New York. His sons’ (London and Ming) works are simultaneously an extension and a commentary on Wen-Ying Tsai’s art.  

London Tsai is a visual artist living in New York. His practice is deeply rooted in mathematical studies and includes such forms as: drawing, painting, sculpture and cybernetic art. His artworks highlight the enduring importance of cybernetic art in contemporary artistic creation and showcase the changes it undergoes in the works of the second generation of cybernetic artists. London Tsai, after his father’s death, started to incorporate kinetic and cybernetic aspects in his sculptures, following the family practice of “Tsaibernetics”, which he enhanced with theoretic mathematical notions and new solutions regarding digital equipment.  In ŁAŹNIA Centre for Contemporary Art we will show, among his other works, “Rotary Hopf Sphere: a dream machine” of 2022, in which the artist uses digitally controlled and optic-fibre controlled LED diodes as well as the external stroboscope controlling feedback, to show the interconnection of light, structure, motion, interaction and visual perception.  

Ming Tsai is a scientist specializing in studies on environmental pollution and implementing the principles of cybernetics in this field: with environmental sensors and devices improving the air quality he creates a dynamic health protection systems. The exhibition at CSW ŁAŹNIA includes some of his research and implemented works. 

Wen-Ying Tsai (1928-2013) was born in China and emigrated to the USA in 1950. Before he became a pioneer of cybernetic sculpture in the 1960s, he created abstract expressionist paintings and built optical constructions. In the latter field, he blazed the trail in using fluorescent pigments. He shared the knowledge of their preparation method with other artists, one of them being Frank Stella. Tsai showed several of those works at “The Responsive Eye” exhibition at MoMA in 1965. Before 1967 he made use of his qualifications in the field of mechanical engineering in order to develop an electronic system using feedback to control stroboscopic lights and to induce harmonic vibrations of stainless steel rods affixed to the mechanized aluminium plates. He made sculptures featuring electric engines, stainless steel rods, stroboscopic light and feedback constructed with the use of sound. He was one of the pioneers of cybernetic art, along with such artists as: Gordon Pask, Nicolas Schöffer, William Grey Walter, Edward Ihnatowicz. His works are part of the art collections in Centre de Pompidou, Tate Modern or Whitney Museum.

London Tsai (born in 1970) is an American artist known for his paintings and sculptures inspired by mathematics. The sculptures are made of profiled, welded aluminium sheets and tubular structures consisting of TIG method-welded tubes. Since 2017, as an extension of his father’s practice, he also started to use digitally controlled engines and feedback systems along with LED stroboscopic lights.  During his undergraduate and graduate studies in the mathematics department he began painting pieces inspired by the theorems he was studying. In 2008, he started creating welded metal sculptures that embodied three-dimensional representations of mathematical concepts and objects from his drawings and paintings. He is the executive director of Tsai Art and Science Foundation as well as a member of its Board of Directors.

Ming-Yi Tsai (born in 1970) is an American scientist specializing in environmental research.  He is a graduate of MIT, with a degree of a mechanical engineer and holds a master’s degree in environmental engineering. He obtained a Ph.D. title in Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at The University of Washington in Seattle. During his long scientific experience he managed projects on studying the link between the air quality in rural or urban areas and the health condition of the residents in the USA, Europe and Africa. The outcome of the study was published in the form of over 60 reviewed texts, concerning the measurements of air pollution, modelling and the impact on health. In 2017 he founded Atlas Sensing Labs, based in Basel, Switzerland, a company which builds dynamic health protection systems improving the air quality.  Such systems monitor the environment in the room and detect worsening of air quality, reacting with switching on ventilation, air purification, disinfection. At the same time the systems communicate the updates to the residents by means of light signals and via interfaces. He is aThe Environment Protection Director and a member of The Board of Directors.


ul. Strajku Dokerów 5
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