Samuel Swope is most recognized for his research and development of what he defines as aerial art – flight and air as medium. Merging multiple media and engineering practices, Swope constructs and controls aesthetic systems that work with air and are often themselves airborne. Through his research and studio practice he often engages with issues on hybridity, atmosphere, emerging technologies, autonomy, and the non-human.
For Swope, aerial art is the construction and control of aesthetic objects/environments/systems that work with air and are often themselves airborne. Aerial art engages the artistic, dynamic, and technical issues of air as an aesthetic dimension. Aerial arts may merge flight, air, gas, or gravity as medium and often require some form of apparatus. There are many ways in appointing aerial art; sculptural drones, levitating objects, micro-atmospheres and gas/fog artworks name just a few examples. Aerial art frames air, giving it a perceptible and systematic volume – or multi-sensory experience.
Swope’s practice is informed by concepts at the intersection of art, science, technology, and life. His work periodically involves iteratively crafting objects or environments that facilitate novel situations that oscillate between playful and poetic, introducing an uncanny apparatus to challenge cultural constructs, manipulate norms and produce ephemeral spectacles, which are then complemented by skillful documenting and storytelling. These works play with the intersection of technology and the non-human, framing these encounters through an anthropomorphic lens to explore our place within these complex hybrid systems.
From 2018 - 2019 Swope was a Visiting Artist faculty member of the Art and Technology Studies Department at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. From 2021 - 2022 he helped establish a new media Art program at Hite Institute of Art & Design, University of Louisville as an assistant professor. Swope's studio is based in Hong Kong where he is an assistant professor for The Hang Seng University of Hong Kong.
Swope has had exhibitions at: National Museum of American History, Smithsonian, Washington DC; de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong; Krupic Kersting Gallery, Cologne; Chronus Art Center, Shanghai; K11 Art Foundation Chi Art Space, Hong Kong; Design Society, Shenzhen; Guan Shan Yue Museum, Shenzhen; Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre, Hong Kong; Blindspot Gallery, Hong Kong; Gallery Exit, Hong Kong; FILE, Sao Paulo; LOOP, Barcelona; Lotsremark, Basel; 100ft. Park, Hong Kong; Redtory, Guangzhou; Nightingale Cinema, Chicago; and 6018North, Chicago. His work has been featured in publications: Frieze; Cobosocial; Artomity; Art Asia Pacific; Art in the Digital Age; International Association of Art Critics Hong Kong; The Art Newspaper China; Blouin ArtInfo; Pipeline; Ocula; and South China Morning Post. He has given lectures at: Chronus Art Center, Shanghai; 22nd International Symposium on Electronic Art, Hong Kong; Centro Colombo Americano, Bucaramanga; School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago; Para Site, Hong Kong; and Design Society, Shenzhen. He has received awards from: Chronus Art Center Research and Creation Fellowship; New Artist Society Full Merit Scholarship; Vermont Studio Center Full Residency Fellowship; and the Freeman-ASIA Award. He attained an MFA degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work is held in private collections.