sfai news

October 19, 2010

Lynn Hershman Leeson, Chair of Film Department, Awarded the 2010 d.velop digital art award (ddaa)

SFAI faculty member Lynn Hershman Leeson, Chair of the Film department, has been awarded the 2010 d.velop digital art award (ddaa). Given biannually by the Digital Art Museum (DAM), Berlin, Germany, this international prize honors an artist’s lifetime achievement in the field of new media. In addition to receiving a monetary award (20,000 euro), Hershman Leeson will have a retrospective exhibition accompanied by a catalogue at the Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany. The ddaa is considered the most prestigious lifetime award given to artists in the digital arts. 

Lynn Hershman Leeson has been at the forefront of new media art since the 1970s, exploring issues now recognized as essential to contemporary society: protection of privacy, gender roles, and changing concepts of identity in the age of virtuality. She very often acts as a nonlinear storyteller, revealing human loneliness in a world of mass communication systems. Her work makes use of alter egos, puppets and agents, and artificial intelligence. As a pioneer of interactive work, her oeuvre includes performance, film, photography, site-specific installations, and digital media. One of Hershman Leeson’s most acclaimed projects is Roberta Breitmore, a fictional persona, created and enacted by the artist from 1973–79, and one which anticipated virtual avatars. Hershman Leeson has been responsible for a number of technological innovations, including the first interactive computer-based artwork with Lorna (1983–84) and the artificial intelligent web agent Dina (2006).

Her three feature films with Tilda Swinton—Conceiving Ada (1997), the first movie to use virtual sets; Teknolust (2002); and Strange Culture (2007)—were shown at the Sundance Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, and Berlin International Film Festival, and won numerous awards. Hershman Leeson's most recent film project, !Women, Art, Revolution, provocatively and comprehensively explores 40 years of feminist art production, and debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2010 to critical acclaim.

Hershman Leeson’s work is featured in the public collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester; The Tate, London; the William Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the National Gallery of Canada; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Hess Collection, Napa, California, among others.

Other recent honors for Hershman Leeson include the 2009 SIGGRAPH Lifetime Achievement Award and a 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship. She is also the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Creative Capital Foundation, the Siemens Media Art Prize, ZKM, the Flintridge Foundation Award, the Prix Ars Electronica, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. In 2004, Stanford University acquired the artist’s working archive. Lynn Hershman Leeson has been Chair of the SFAI Film department since 2007.