Julijonas Urbonas (b. 1981, Lithuania) is an artist, designer, researcher, engineer, associate professor at the Vilnius Academy of Arts, and Design Interactions PhD student at the Royal College of Art, London. He is also former pro-rector of the Vilnius Academy of Arts and former Director of the Soviet Amusement Park in Klaipėda.
Julijonas Urbonas’s artistic activity can be described as critical and speculative design, amusement park engineering, performative architecture, choreography, kinetic art and science fiction. His works are characterised by scientific accuracy and an ambition towards thought and humour. One of his most famous works, ‘Euthanasia Coaster’, is a great example of Urbonas’s artistic approach. The piece works as a hypothetical death machine, its design based on the science of aeronautics, space medicine, mechanical engineering and physics. The machine was created to explore the possibilities of gravitational force - an aspiration that is also reflected in many other of Urbonas’s projects. The artist coined the term ‘gravitational aesthetics’, meaning ‘an artistic approach exploiting the means of manipulating gravity to create experiences that push the body and imagination to their extremes’.
The artist has also significantly contributed to the field of design research: informed by many scientific and philosophical disciplines, his papers have been published in various journals and books. In his research work, the artist examines a unique approach to creative methodologies which he refers to as ‘vehicular poetics’ or ‘design choreography’.
Julijonas Urbonas is one of the most established critical designers in Lithuania. Actively participating in art, design and architecture biennials, he also publishes academic and other papers. Due to the uniqueness of his projects, Urbonas is often discussed in Lithuanian and world media. The artist has received numerous awards, including the Award of Distinction in Interactive Art, Prix Ars Electronica 2010, while his projects are included in museums as well as private collections.
„For almost a decade, working between critical design, amusement park engineering, performative architecture, choreography, kinetic art and sci-fi, I have been developing various critical tools of negotiating gravity: from a killer roller coaster to an artificial asteroid made up entirely of human bodies. In these projects I coin the term of gravitational aesthetics, an artistic approach exploiting the means of manipulating gravity to create experiences that push the body and imagination to its extremes. Informed by postphenomenology, space medicine, particle physics, outer space anthropology, extro-disciplinarity, I have also established - by writing, researching and making - unique creative methodologies under such names as vehicular poetics and design choreography. Such an establishment has been shown and discussed in a wide diversity of venues: art, design, architecture biennials, academic and non-academic publications, TV and Radio shows. My work received many awards, including the Award of Distinction in Interactive Art, Prix Ars Electronica 2010. My projects can be found in private and museum collections such as the permanent collection of the Centre for Art and Media Karlsruhe (ZKM)“.