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The Catalyst

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The Sparkle: Not alive yet bright


Sharmaine KWAN, Johan F. HOORN, and David HANSON

8th July 2021  to 15th August 2021

Sharmaine KWAN is an artist from Hong Kong who received her Fine Art degree in the UK. She is also the author of ‘Traditional Chinese Painting - Masterpieces of Art’ and ‘How to Paint - Made Easy’. She is interested in urban environments, the city and its culture, as well as the future. Her work explores and brings to light these aspects in a contemporary and engaging approach through a range of both traditional and digital media where she often combines various elements in her artworks. Her work traverses across different types of media such as painting, neon light, installation art, new media art, sculpture, video, and interactive art. She also engages in art commissions and collaborations with international brands, organisations and events. Her work has been shown worldwide in different locations such as London, Moscow, Portugal, South Korea, Macedonia, Beijing, Poland, and Hong Kong. She has also received awards from international art competitions and has participated in overseas artist programmes and residencies.

Johan F. HOORN is an interfaculty full professor of computing and design in The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, specialising in social robotics. Johan holds two PhD degrees, one in Literature and one in Computing. His artistic work spreads from literary art and theatre to calligraphy, photography, and painting.


Before coming to Hong Kong, Johan exhibited art in Amsterdam, had a robot design on show in Rotterdam museum of modern art Boijmans van Beuningen, published poetry in scientific journals, created text and stage images for three large-scale outdoor multimedia spectacle plays (Dante, Faust, and Odyssey), contributed to an award-winning robot theatre-act, and created and performed in location-based theatre to teach large corporate firms about innovation and creativity. Last year, Johan exhibited poetry, paintings, and calligraphy at NIDO, Hollywood Road, Hong Kong. A public lecture about his scientific work is available at here.

David HANSON (Ph.D.) develops robots that are widely regarded as the world’s most human-like in appearance, in a lifelong quest to create true living, caring machines. To accomplish these goals, Hanson integrates figurative arts with cognitive science and robotics engineering, inventions novel skin materials, facial expression mechanisms, and collaborative developments in AI, within humanoid artworks like Sophia the robot, which can engage people in naturalistic face-to-face conversations and currently serve in AI research, education, therapy, and other uses.


Hanson worked as a Walt Disney Imagineer, both a sculptor and a technical consultant in robotics, and later founded Hanson Robotics. As a researcher, Hanson published dozens of papers in materials science, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, and robotics journals — including SPIE, IEEE, the International Journal of Cognitive Science, IROS, AAAI, AI magazine and more. He wrote two books including “Humanizing Robots” and received several patents. Hanson was featured in the New York Times, Popular Science, Scientific American, WIRED, BBC and CNN. He also received earned awards from NASA, NSF, Tech Titans’ Innovator of the Year, RISD, Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial, and the co-received the 2005 AAAI first place prize for open interaction of an AI system. Hanson holds a Ph.D. in Interactive Arts and Technology from the University of Texas at Dallas, and a BFA in film Animation video from the Rhode Island School of Design.

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