A unique, interactive performance art experience, which fuses cutting-edge AI technology with the ancient art of Chinese ink-brush painting, was unveiled at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong during a star-studded event to celebrate the iconic hotel’s 60th anniversary.
‘Fans of… Mandarin Oriental. AI on canvas’ is creatively conceived, designed and built by Studio of Art & Commerce, in partnership with Sir Peter Blake and London Advertising. As part of a campaign to mark the hotel’s anniversary, the ‘living artwork’ pays tribute to the Mandarin Oriental community by capturing a collective record of the people that make the Mandarin Oriental what it is.
The composition of the performance artwork – created at the event – is inspired and curated by British pop art legend Sir Peter Blake, most famed for co-creating the album cover for the Beatles’ iconic 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. He has a long-standing friendship with the Mandarin Oriental. Blake brought his signature Sergeant Pepper-style collages, with a Mandarin Oriental twist to the Hong Kong hotel’s 50th anniversary and adorned the frontage of its sister hotel in Hyde Park, London, during its restoration following a fire.
‘Fans of… Mandarin Oriental’ is an AI-directed piece melding traditional craftsmanship with groundbreaking technology. The work produced a larger-than-life, celebratory centrepiece collage of portraits, in a style inspired by traditional Chinese ink calligraphy – a nod to the hotel’s heritage – during a mesmerising live art performance at the event on 26 October.
Combining performance art, entertainment and intrigue, the experience began with a 3.2 x 4.8m blank canvas displayed on the wall of the hotel lobby. Over the course of the evening, a calligraphy brush, held by a moving robotic arm, travelled across the surface, gradually filling the canvas with elegant ink portraits of the hotel’s fans and guests. Portraits were painted in real-time using specialist-trained AI that directed the large brush to plot varying delicate and bold strokes, bringing the fans’ features to life from photographs.
Adding to the entertainment factor, the plotter’s movements were choreographed to ‘dance’ throughout the evening, mirroring the live contemporary performances taking place in front of the piece, including a bespoke music composition.
With a new portrait generated every few minutes, fans were invited to become part of the performance with custom photoshoots. The resulting photographs were processed and added to the growing collage of faces, creating an ever-evolving, dynamic centrepiece that embodies the Mandarin Oriental’s dedication to the highest quality experiences, with meticulous craft and attention to detail.
The final artwork – which features around 200 portraits including Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh, pop star Karen Mok, fashion designer Vivienne Tam and photographer Greg Williams – reflects the collective face of the Mandarin Oriental’s fans, while simultaneously recognising and celebrating the individual faces within the community. The piece is set to live on after the event as a unique cultural asset. Guests will have the opportunity to buy the artwork itself or one of 300 limited-edition prints, signed and numbered by Sir Peter. A further 20% of the shares will be held in trust for Sir Peter’s chosen charity, Graeae Theatre Company. This is another world first.
Sir Peter Blake said: “I was thrilled to be invited to help the Creative Directors at Studio of Art & Commerce and LONDON Advertising, combining their ideas and technology with all I have learnt about creating more traditional collages over my career and to renew my relationship with Mandarin Oriental. I must confess I am enjoying quite an exciting retirement!”
Greg Liddell, General Manager, Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, said: “We are delighted to host this innovative performance art installation that is the perfect expression of the personalised service, craft and innovation that has epitomised the Mandarin Oriental brand since we opened our doors 60 years ago.”
Heide Cohu, Founder of Studio of Art & Commerce, said: “This project was an exciting opportunity to showcase the creative potential of this unique performative artwork in a spectacular setting – pairing groundbreaking specialist-trained AI technology with traditional Chinese craftsmanship. We were thrilled to work alongside Sir Peter and LONDON Advertising to create a very special experience that was both an entertaining piece of performance art and a lasting cultural asset.”
Michael Moszynski, CEO of London Advertising, said: “Michael Moszynski, CEO of London Advertising, who commissioned the work said: “We were looking for a performance for the event that put the guests – the brand’s fans – at the centre of the evening. Working with Sir Peter, who is a long-standing Fan of Mandarin Oriental, and the Studio of Art & Commerce who created the tech, allowed us to combine forces to create a world first.”