The Uses of the Future: Contemporary Art in the Digital Domain

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Earlier this year I was asked to contribute an essay for a publication commemorating 30 years of the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA). The Centre was formed in 1986 as the Chinese View Arts Association, a festival platform of art, music and dance whose purpose was to create an improved understanding of Chinese culture for UK audiences. Now in its third decade, the centre has become a well respected contemporary art gallery that regularly hosts exhibitions of emerging and established artists from Greater China, the UK and beyond, in addition to a lively and innovative programme of residencies, engagement projects, festivals and events.  As the only non-profit organisation in Europe to specialise in Chinese contemporary art and visual culture, the publication marks the important contribution the Centre has made to the evolution of Chinese contemporary art practice over the last 30 years.

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The publication has been divided into five subsections, which tackle issues ranging from ‘Contextual Changes in China and Beyond’, ‘How Have Exhibitions of Chinese Contemporary Art Evolved?’, ‘Definitions of Chineseness’, ‘Talent Development’ and ‘The Future’ with each section including a series of essays and conversations that explore the work of the organization and its surrounding contexts. My essay features in the final section on ‘The Future’ and addresses how artists in China and beyond are responding to the changes wrought by the so-called ‘digital turn’, looking specifically at the impact of social media, the creative appropriation of pixelation and programming code and the role of internet art, online exhibitions and digital archives in the shaping of new spaces for art and its display in the twenty-first century. I have included a pdf of the essay, entitled ‘The Uses of the Future: Contemporary Art in the Digital Domain‘ in the publications section of this blog, which you can find here.

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‘Chairman Mao goes to Anyuan’ (after Liu Chunhua, 1967), Giclee on Canvas/ 95 x 77cm, by Gordon Cheung (2016), featured in the essay by En Liang Khong on ‘The In-Betweeners: Identity, Politics, Hybridity and the Art of ‘Chineseness’

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‘A Contemporary Art Centre, Taipei, a proposal’ by Jun Yang (2008) featured in the essay by Biljana Ciric on ‘Exhibiting Rituals- Potential and Traps: Exhibitions on China in China and Outside China’

With contributions from artists, writers and curators in the field including artists such as Xu Bing, Liu Ding and Gordon Cheung, and curators Hou Hanru, Biljana Ciric, Marko Daniel and many others, the publication has much to offer students, scholars and specialists of East Asian Art as well as those with a more general interest in contemporary art and visual culture. For anyone looking to purchase a copy, the book will be available to buy from Amazon from December onwards.

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A detail from Xu Bing’s bellyband design for ‘Book from the Ground’

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Stills from Susan Pui San Lok, including ‘Notes on Return’ (2003), ‘After Words’ (2005), and ‘Vistas'(2005), single channel digital videos and digital video triptych. 

November 10th, 2016

Think You Know China? ‘Tales of Our Time’ Will Make You Think Again

Eight projects commissioned by younger artists from Hong Kong, Taiwan and China present startlingly fresh points of view in this show at the Guggenheim Museum.

By: Barbara Pollack       Source: The New York Times    Date: 27/10/2016

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Pop Art portraits of Mao Zedong and installations of Qing dynasty furniture have long represented the Chinese art world in New York and other cultural centers in the United States.

But the Guggenheim Museum intends to broaden the artistic experience with its “Tales of Our Time,” opening on Friday, Nov. 4. Featuring eight newly commissioned projects by artists from Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as from China, this exhibition will present fresh approaches to contemporary art from the region, highlighting alternative narratives that depart sharply from news accounts and official histories.

“Our exhibition is not trying to tell people what is right or wrong, but maybe one way we can think about it is, how can we diversify people’s thinking about Chinese art?” said Xiaoyu Weng, an associate curator. Ms. Weng and Hou Hanru, consulting curator, organized the exhibition under the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative, a $10 million grant devoted to researching and commissioning works for the permanent collection.

The initiative’s first iteration, “Wang Jianwei: Time Temple,” which opened in 2014, focused on a single artist of an older generation, whose experimental works have been highly influential in China, while “Tales of Our Time” brings together a diverse group of younger artists to offer a broader view of the next wave in Chinese contemporary art.

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November 3rd, 2016

Report: China Censorship Machine Not the Monolith It Appears to Be

By: Josh Chin      Source: The Wall Street Journal      Date: 2/11/2016

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On China’s popular streaming video app YY, you can chat about the Dalai Lama or the party drug ecstasy, but if you want to talk about people from Henan province stealing manhole covers, you’ll have to switch to a different app.

A group of internet researchers based in North America spent more than a year tracking how some of China’s better known social video apps censor their users. Their latest findings, released in a report this week after they culled through a huge trove of banned keywords, suggest China’s censorship regime is not the well-coordinated machine it’s often assumed to be.

(The full report, entitled ‘Harmonised Histories’ can be found here at Net Alert)

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