2016.03.03 Thu, by
Conrad Shawcross at The Peninsula with The Royal Academy of Arts

[press release]

Ever at the forefront of innovation and taste, The Peninsula Hong Kong demonstrates its commitment to the arts once again this spring by playing host to a beguiling installation by pioneering British artist Conrad Shawcross. The second installment in the hotel’s ongoing creative collaboration with the esteemed British institution the Royal Academy of Arts (RA), Shawcross’ The ADA Project combines the tenets of sculpture, robotics and music to create a unique and dramatic visual performance that will be on show in The Peninsula’s iconic Lobby from 22 March to 6 April 2016.

Timed to coincide with the fourth edition of Art Basel Hong Kong, the installation marks the latest chapter in the “Love Art at The Peninsula” initiative, the hotel’s groundbreaking programme of exhibitions and events that celebrate creativity in all its forms, most notably with the commitment to public art. Reflecting Hong Kong’s thriving position on the global arts scene and growing importance as a cultural hub, “Love Art” has previously featured works by Tracey Emin, whose My Heart Is With You Always graced the hotel’s tower façade in 2014, and Richard Wilson, whose groundbreaking installation Hang On A Minute Lads, I’ve Got a Great Idea is widely regarded as a pioneering public artwork of a scale that was unprecedented in Hong Kong, for the launch of The Peninsula’s partnership with the RA in 2015.

康拉德·肖克罗斯,《ADA》,铝、铁、光、控制机械系统的电脑,尺寸可变,2013(版权归康拉德· 肖克罗斯所有;图片由艺术家和伦敦维多利亚•米罗画廊提供。摄影:André Morin)/ Conrad Shawcross, “ADA”, aluminum, steel, light, computer controlled mechanical system, dimensions variable, 2013 (©Conrad Shawcross; courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London. Photograph: André Morin)

肖克罗斯所有;图片由艺术家和伦敦维多利亚•米罗画廊提供。摄影:André Morin)/ Conrad Shawcross, “ADA”, aluminum, steel, light, computer controlled mechanical system, dimensions variable,
2013 (©Conrad Shawcross; courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London. Photograph: André Morin)

Comprised of a series of collaborations between Shawcross, the youngest Royal Academician, and leading contemporary musical composers, The ADA Project turns the traditional commissioning process on its head by using a re-programmed industrial robot as a catalyst for the creation of music and choreography. Taking an industrial robot arm that is most commonly used on automated assembly lines, Shawcross reprogrammed ADA to perform four different predetermined choreographed routines, before playing respective routines to each composer to inspire their musical response.

The ADA Project is co-presented by the Royal Academy of Arts and The Peninsula Hong Kong from 22 March – 5 April. Paradigm Studies will be on view at Victoria Miro, Art Basel Hong Kong, from 24 – 26 March

Conrad Shawcross’s public sculpture Paradigm is at The Francis Crick Institute, London; The Optic Cloak will be completed in Summer 2016 as part of Knight Dragon’s Greenwich Peninsula Energy Centre. The ADA Project is co-presented by the Royal Academy of Arts and The Peninsula Hong Kong from 22 March – 5 April. Conrad Shawcross is represented by Victoria Miro, London. 


The installation, which was first exhibited at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, in 2013 and at MONA, Tasmania, in 2014, sees the resulting compositions played to accompany the robot’s choreographed sequences.

In creating this work, Shawcross drew inspiration from Ada Lovelace, the 19th century mathematician, and daughter of Lord Byron, who is credited as being the world’s first computer programmer. Working alongside Charles Babbage, who is often described as “the father of the computer”, Lovelace predicted that Babbage’s proposed counting machine—known as the “Difference Engine”—could, one day, “compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent”, and wrote an algorithm that many consider to be the first ever computer programme, although it was never put into action in its day.

The ADA Project will be on display in The Peninsula’s Lobby from 22 March to 6 April 2016, encompassing four live performances by the British composer Mira Calix, at 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm on 23 March coinciding with the hotel’s iconic Afternoon Tea service and on the evening of 24 March at the hotel’s Art Gala. The installation will be in “Salon Mode” at all other times, as a spellbinding robotic jukebox, performing all four musical sequences at other times during the day. In addition, The Peninsula will exhibit a series of accompanying prints by Shawcross for the duration of The ADA Project. On display in the hotel’s 1/F exhibition space, the prints offer additional insight into the artist’s unique thinking and the philosophical, mathematical and theological processes behind the installation.

About Conrad Shawcross RA

Conrad Shawcross (b. 1977) explores subjects that lie on the borders of geometry and philosophy, physics and metaphysics. 2015 saw the artist starting to tackle public spaces with major works in Dulwich Park (“Three Perpetual Chords”), The Royal Academy courtyard (“The Dappled Light of the Sun”), and Chatsworth House (“Beyond Limits”). In April 2016, “Paradigm”, a 14m high monumental work, will be unveiled outside the Francis Crick Institute in the heart of King’s Cross, London.

Shawcross has had solo presentations at institutions including New Art Centre, UK (2015); Dulwich Picture Gallery, London (2015); Careyes Foundation, Mexico (2014); The Vinyl Factory, London (2014); ARTMIA Foundation, Beijing (2014); Roundhouse, London (2013); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2013); MUDAM, Luxembourg (2012); Science Museum, London (2011 – 2012); and Turner Contemporary, Margate (2011). His work has been exhibited at galleries including the Royal Academy, London (2014 and 2015); MONA, Tasmania (2014 and 2011); Grand Palais, Paris (2013); and Hayward Gallery, London (2013).

About the Royal Academy of Arts

The Royal Academy of Arts was founded by King George III of England in 1768. It has a unique position in being an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects whose purpose is to be a clear, strong voice for art and artists. Its public programmes promote the creation, enjoyment and appreciation of the visual arts through exhibitions, education and debate. The Royal Academy of Arts is governed by 80 Royal Academicians who are all practising artists and architects including Thomas Heatherwick, Chantal Joffe, Conrad Shawcross, Yinka Shonibare, Tracey Emin, Anish Kapoor, Zaha Hadid and Antony Gormley. Honorary Academicians are distinguished artists who are not resident in the UK. They include Marina Abramovic, Tadao Ando, Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer, Jeff Koons, Renzo Piano, Cindy Sherman, Frank Stella, and Ai Weiwei.

The RA has unveiled plans for a transformative redevelopment which will be completed in time for its 250th anniversary in 2018. Burlington House on Piccadilly and Burlington Gardens will be united through designs by internationally-acclaimed architect Sir David Chipperfield RA. The partnership with The Peninsula builds on the RA’s recent collaborations with cultural and educational institutions across Asia. These have included exhibitions in Singapore, Japan, Qatar and Australia, an artist exchange programme in partnership with Hong Kong-based not-for-profit Arts in Heritage Research Limited and the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, and a student exchange programme with Tokyo University of the Arts.

The RA has also launched an art-handling training scheme in collaboration with Art Basel Hong Kong. Prior to this, the RA launched a professional development programme for Hong Kong arts professionals in partnership with the Hong Kong government in 2012, and it has been behind a number of high-profile artist’s talks in the city over the past two years.

About “Love Art at The Peninsula”

Launched in 2014, Love Art at The Peninsula is an ongoing programme of innovative events and art experiences that aim to enrich and celebrate Hong Kong’s burgeoning visual art scene. Building on The Peninsula’s longstanding history of arts patronage and its location close to the eagerly anticipated M+ Museum for Visual Culture, which is set to open in West Kowloon in 2019, Love Art at The Peninsula gives hotel guests and the Hong Kong public the opportunity to see works by some of the world’s most exciting artists in a unique and heritage-rich setting. Previous highlights include My Heart Is With You Always by Tracey Emin RA, an animation based on one of the British artist’s neon artworks projected onto the façade of The Peninsula’s tower (2014); Three Hundred Leafs, a site-specific installation by Chinese artist Su Xiaobai in the hotel’s Lobby (2014); and the installation Hang On A Minute Lads, I’ve Got a Great Idea by British artist and sculptor Richard Wilson RA, which featured a full-sized replica of a bus which appeared to be teetering on the edge of the hotel’s seventh-floor Sun Terrace (2015).