Artist Profile – Jakob Kudsk Steensen

Published on 2018-02-16

Artwork featured at the salon: 'AQUAPHOBIA' (2017) Roomscale Virtual Reality Artwork for HTC Vive. (Edition of 4, Duration Variable)

Jakob Kudsk Steensen is a Danish artist and art director based in New York specializing in VR and real-time virtual simulations of ecosystems. His work revolves around questions of how future landscapes can be envisioned through digital augmentations of existing ones.

Steensen’s VR installation “Primal Tourism” (2016) is an impressive multimedia tour-de-force where colonialism, tourism, and science fiction intertwine with one another. The project aimed at constructing an exact virtual replica of the tourist destination Bora Bora in French Polynesia. Visitors are invited to freely explore the island – placed in the near future – in which the artist implants a number of unsettling omens – an abandoned site for colonial remembrance, tsunami warning signs, a submerged luxury resort, and an airport overrun by swarms of mosquitoes. Designed with the program Unreal Engine, a leading software in the computer game industry, Steensen’s virtual fantasy is enchanting and polished, putting the aesthetics of a highly lucrative tech industry in service of politicized confrontations with the future. 

Steensen has commented on his interest in exhibiting his highly immersive virtual work in art contexts, citing the white cube spaces of galleries as “the ideal artificial and culturally constructed space” to showcase his work. In March 2017, Steensen created a virtual reality exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Art that transports museum goers into the future in an effort to investigate how new technologies are shaping the virtual realm. The exhibit, entitled “Styles and Customs of the 2020,” was a collaboration with art collectives DIS and Scatter. A leader in VR technologies, Steensen has given presentations about his work at the Godsbanen Cultural Centre, the Woodhole Film Festival, New York University, and the University of the Arts London. His work is also in the permanent collections at 21c Museum Hotels and Mana Contemporary. 

Steensen has completed site-specific installations with the help of the Brooklyn Arts and Media Center as well as the New York Media Center. He has also held solo shows at OK Corral in Copenhagen and the Sleep Center in New York. This year, Steensen will participate in group shows at the New Ear Festival in New York, Sixty Eight Art Institute in Copenhagen, the Wrong New Digital Art Biennale in São Paulo, and the Jepson Centre for the Arts in Savannah. He has also participated in group shows at the Supernova Animation Festival in Colorado, Gossamer Fog in London, in Munich, and the Moving Image Fair in Istanbul. 

Steensen also has served as art director for a number of films, which have been screened at the TriBeCa Film Festival and Sundance. He has held residencies at MASS MoCA, BRIC, the Mana Contemporary Art Center, and the Artist Residency in New York.  Steensen has a  BA in Art and New Media from Aarhus University, an MFA from Central St. Martins, and an MA from Copenhagen University. 

VR Installation courtesy the artist.

Artist Bio written by Arshy Azizi.