Artist Profile – Ryan Kuo

Published on 2018-02-18

Artwork featured in the salon: 'Family Maker' (2017-Ongoing) MAC OS X Application (Digital edition of 88 on Left Gallery)

Ryan Kuo is a New York-based artist exploring the formal structures that shape  our relationships to digital content and self-presentation through elegant, conceptually-driven software works. He takes inspiration from video games, web design, motion graphics, and sampling.  

Kuo’s three-part series in 'Art Journal Open' provides a framework for his thinking around  politics inherent in design protocol, through an investigation of the aesthetics of containerization and white space. In the first piece in the installment, an essay entitled “In Submission,” Kuo claims that the whiteness of webpage forms should not be read as a neutral, formal condition. The second piece, “Tables of Content,” is a self-reflexive work about the “unfriendly format” of HTML and the contrast between its simplistic appearance and complex code structure. The final piece, “Building a Table,” contextualizes the other two pieces in an investigation of “how seemingly benign typologies have profound social and political implications for the management of bodies and knowledge.”

Currently, Kuo is working on releasing a MAC OS X Application called “Family Maker,” an interactive visual concept organizer which makes tangible abstract concepts  like “Love,” “Future,” and “Time,” and aims to help people “navigate family dynamics that may be familiar or unfamiliar.” The project can be seen as an open game with no objective;  the more they engage with the application, the more the user unlocks further complexities about their own psychological relationship with their family or family-like kin. 

“File,” Kuo’s ongoing hypertext process work,  is inspired by contemporary work flows and agile process management, and provides “technical documentation of your artistic process, along with a collaborative wiki for problem resolution.” The work  stems from the artist’s work as a technical writer at a technology company, and his interest in the contingency, he writes, of digital files, so freely which are freely copied, overwritten, deleted.” It is a “counterpoint for an artist's book in progress, 'File: A User's Manual', modeled after consumer guides for software power users and functioning as a process manifesto.” 

For spring and summer 2018 Kuo will be joining the studio program  at the Queens Museum. His work has been shown at Goldsmiths in London, the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts in Cambridge, MA, Boston Cyberarts, Equity Gallery in New York, Front/Space in Kansas City, online platform left gallery, and Minibar in Stockholm. In  2017, Kuo was an NEA Art Works resident at Residency Unlimited in New York. The year prior, he was artist-in-residence at the Arteles Creative Center in Finland. Kuo has also curated the 2016 show “Formats” at Industry Lab in Cambridge, MA. 

In addition to publishing work with Art Journal Open, Kuo has written for Spike Magazine and elsewhere. He served for many years as the editor of Kill Screen and Crispy Gamer, and was an advisor to MoMA on their first permanent videogame acquisition.

He holds a Bachelor’s in Art History from Harvard and a Master’s in Science in Art, Culture, and Technology from MIT.  

Artwork and Animated GIF courtesy the artist.

Artist bio written by Arshy Azizi.