Second conference of the European Association for Asian Art and Archaeology (EAAA), Zurich 24-27th August

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On Thursday I’ll be travelling to Zurich to take part in the second EAAA conference, which is being held this year at the University of Zurich from the 24th- 27th August. A unique gathering of artists, art historians, archaeologists, researchers and students working across disciplines and time periods- from neolithic China to contemporary Korea, the conference promises to offer three days of stimulating discussions and heated debates on all things art related, and will feature keynote addresses by Yukio Lippit and Burglind Jungmann.

As the organisers note: “The main aim of the Association is to encourage and promote all academic and scholarly activities related to Asian art and archaeology in European countries. More specifically, the Association will seek to establish and maintain a platform for the fruitful exchange of ideas, create a forum for dialogue among scholars of Asian art history and archaeology, and provide a setting for the presentation and discussion of new and recent research. Its main activities will include: the organisation of regular biennial conferences, thematic conferences, workshops, symposia, study events, and lectures. The Association will also actively seek out different ways to support young scholars, promote publications and exhibitions, and disseminate information and resources – of all kinds and in all forms and media – related to Asian art and archaeology.” Continue reading

Lin Ke’s interactive ‘Art Book’: where printed matter meets augmented reality

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In 2016 Lin Ke 林科 released a book via Tria publishing that presents a chronological overview of his output from 2010-2016.  As an artist Lin is known for innovative works which explore the impact of digital technology and computer operating systems on contemporary art and visual culture. Integrating images culled from social media platforms with playful subversions of standard software packages and graphical user interfaces, his practice employs screen recording software and programming code to blur the boundaries between real and virtual spaces.

After graduating from the China Academy of Art’s New Media Department (now the School of Intermedia Art) in 2008, Lin began a series of video works which were created without the use of a video camera. Capturing the mundane real-time actions governing artistic creation in the computer age, many feature the artist interacting with his laptop. We view these videos via the computer’s own camera, controlled from a distance with the use of a touchpad as the artist records his own movements to music.

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The resulting mirrored images, with their spectral layering of open windows, screen savers and desktop detritus present us with unsettling self-portraits of the digital age. As we increasingly experience life mediated by digital devices, they reinforce not only the reality of spending eight hours a day staring blankly at our computer screens but also the incursion of these virtual environments beyond the computer frame, personifying the uncanny possibility of a machine that can return our gaze.  Continue reading

Call for papers: ‘Contemporary Chinese Artists in the Globalised Art World’ Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art 5.1

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I serve on the editorial board for the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, so I’m happy to announce that JCCA is currently soliciting submissions for an exciting new issue on ‘Contemporary Chinese Artists in the Globalised Art World’ slated to be published in 2018.

The end of the Chinese Cultural Revolution opened an entirely new chapter for modern Chinese history, and indeed, for Chinese art too. In 1993, as a section of the 45th Venice Biennale, Passaggio a Oriente (Passage to the Orient) was one of the first representations of Chinese contemporary art on the global art stage presenting fourteen Chinese artists. Externally, Chinese art started to attract the world’s attention by artists’ frequent participations in long standing art events in cities like Venice, Kassel, Lyon, Istanbul, Sharjah and Sydney, as well as important museum exhibitions and art fairs. Internally, contemporary art exhibition became international from the beginning of this millennium, precisely, marked by the third Shanghai Biennial (2000). The Chinese government’s awareness and anxiety about the internationalisation of cultural and creative industries through urban transformations, the institution of biennials and triennials invented and organised in various cities in China, and the rise of newly founded private art museums and galleries have all played a part in promoting Chinese artists and the development of contemporary art in the international context.

The term ‘Chinese’ in this journal is always cultural and signals a broad sense, to include artists not only from Mainland China, but also Hong Kong, Taiwan, as well as those global Chinese diasporas. The editors of this issue would like to invite article submissions from a variety of perspectives to produce a series of case studies of individual artists (or artist groups) and their work as representative examples of development in Chinese contemporary art within the last three decades. These individual case studies can be based on their artistic lives, conceptual strategies, speculative knowledge, political and social engagements, and methodological approaches to art production in response to the globalised art world today. As such, this issue is designed to stimulate original research, critical thinking and new understanding of Chinese contemporary art.
Timeline

Extended Deadline: *31 July 2017, abstracts due (300 words)*

30 September 2017, full manuscripts due (6-7,000 words)

Publication in Volume 5, Issue 1, Spring 2018

Please send submissions and correspondence to: Principal Editor Jiang Jiehongccva@bcu.ac.uk, with the subject ‘JCCA 5.1’. Please visit Intellect’s website http://www.intellectbooks.com to follow its house referencing guidelines.

Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art is an associate journal of the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts at Birmingham City University.

Where Next? Gary Zhexi Zhang on “Imagining the dawn of the ‘Chinese century'”

In an article in May’s edition of Frieze, Gary Zhexi Zhang explores ‘Sinofuturism’ , narratives of ‘techno-orientalism’ and the impact of the ‘Chinese century’ on contemporary art

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Where Next?

Over dinner in Shanghai a few years ago, I was debating the question of futurity with a friend. Our heads clouded by baijiu (sorghum wine), I found myself glibly insisting that neoliberalism had wrung out what remained of the utopian imagination, echoing the grim capitalist realism articulated by Mark Fisher, Fredric Jameson and others. Cut to 2017: Fisher is sadly no longer with us and even Francis Fukuyama, the political economist whose ‘end of history’ thesis postulated the infinite horizon of neoliberal capitalism, recently acknowledged: ‘Twenty-five years ago, I didn’t have a sense or a theory about how democracies can go backward […] And I think they clearly can.’

If the era of liberal democracy is crumbling before our eyes, alternate futures seem all the more potent amidst the ugliness of the present. Of course, I hit a dead end that night in Shanghai. Why should the ‘end of history’ mean anything in China? I only had to glance over at the skyline to see that the future never left: it just went elsewhere.

Continue reading

Celebrating ‘The Chinternet’: Internet Art Practices in China

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This Wednesday I’m delivering a lecture on Internet Art practices in China, examining artists’ distinctly self-conscious celebration of what has often disparagingly been labelled ‘The Chinternet’.  The talk will interrogate the assumption that internet art emerging from China can only belatedly repeat works of Euro-American precedent, arguing that current practices present a dramatic reframing of online censorship, consumerism and the unique aspects of vernacular culture that have emerged within China’s online realm.

While the talk is advertised as being open to all members of Christ Church, interested parties from the public and the wider University community are welcome to attend.

Pauline Yao Lecture: In the Mood for a Museum: Art and Collecting at M+, Hong Kong

This Thursday I have invited Pauline J. Yao to Oxford, where she has generously agreed to deliver a lecture on art and collecting at M+ to students and staff at The Ruskin School of Art (although the lecture is open to all). Pauline is currently in the UK as a Leverhulme Visiting Professor at the University of Leeds and during her time here she will be delivering a number of important lectures and public talks, including this event at Tate Modern on the 26th April. I’m therefore delighted that she will be joining us in Oxford for what promises to be an exciting opportunity to learn more about Hong Kong’s largest museum of 20th and 21st century art and design, architecture and moving image. Details of the lecture are below, all welcome.

 

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 In the Mood for a Museum: Art and Collecting at M+, Hong Kong

Old Masters’ Studio, Ruskin School of Art

Thursday, 27th April, 2pm

Pauline J. Yao is Leverhulme Visiting Professor at the University of Leeds and Lead Curator, Visual Art at M+, the new museum for twentieth and twenty-first century visual culture being built in Hong Kong. She has held curatorial positions at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and worked as an independent curator and writer in Beijing for six years, during which time she helped co-found the storefront art space Arrow Factory. A co-curator of the 2009 Shenzhen Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism, Yao is a regular contributor to Artforum, e-flux Journal, and Yishu Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art and her writings on contemporary Asian art have appeared in numerous catalogues, online publications and edited volumes. She is the author of In Production Mode: Contemporary Art in China (Timezone 8 Books, 2008) and co-editor of 3 Years: Arrow Factory (Sternberg Press, 2011).

Feminist Activism in China: In Conversation with Li Maizi 女权行动在中国:与李麦子的对话/ Tuesday 7th March

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Next Tuesday (7th March) I’m going to be taking part in a conversation on Feminist Activism in China with Li Maizi 李麦子 (aka Li Tingting 李婷婷) of China’s ‘Feminist Five‘, one of the leading figures in global feminist and LGBTQIA+ networks.

I’m going to be joined on the panel by Harriet Evans, Tricia Kehoe, Monica Merlin and Xu Juan (of the art collective Bald Girls) and we’ll be discussing everything from women’s rights, equality and activism to the role of social media and performance art in raising awareness of gender discrimination. It promises to be a night of lively discussion and debate and anyone wishing to attend can register for free here via eventbrite.

For more information on Li Maizi, including her detention in 2015 and her gender equality advocacy, there is an interview here on China Change. This article by Maura Cunningham also provides some insightful background reading for anyone interested in learning more about the future of feminism in contemporary China.

MOOC “Discovering Socially Engaged Art in Contemporary China”

1Last week saw the launch of the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on Socially Engaged Art in Contemporary China, created by Zheng Bo at the City University of Hong Kong. I have written about Zheng’s work before, specifically ‘A Wall: Art and the online public sphere in China’ a showcase of socially engaged art which he first created back in 2014. Commissioned by The Space in collaboration with British Council China and Cass Sculpture Foundation, the project offered a reimagining of China’s Democracy Wall for the digital age. Zheng has significantly updated and expanded that original digital archive, which can now be found online at  seachina.net. In this post I would like to look briefly at both projects, assessing the impact of these digital learning tools and archives for the study of contemporary art.

The MOOC is a six week online course that runs from the 6th February to the 19th March, users anywhere in the world can access the course by registering online here. As Zheng outlines in the introduction to the course:

“This 6-week free online course serves as an introduction to Chinese socially engaged art. We produced it over the past eight months. We traveled to multiple cities (Wuhan, Chengdu, Chongqing, Beijing …) and worked with a number of artists/ collectives (Xiong Wenyun, Xu Bing, Wang Jiuliang …). This course covers 16 socially engaged projects and a number of theoretical issues. It also contains excerpts of 12 artist interviews, and six 360-degree videos of the actual sites where the projects took place. The artworks address a wide range of social issues, ranging from ecology to equality.”

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Xiong Wenyun’s ‘Moving Rainbow’ (1998-2001)

Each week’s lesson contains a selection of digital media which are designed to introduce key themes and social issues. These are grounded in specific case studies which do much to bring these issues to life while also highlighting the diversity of socially engaged practices within China. Week one, for example, contains a case study of Xiong Wenyun’s ‘Moving Rainbow’ (1998-2001) complete with a ten minute video of the project and a five minute interview with the artist. Xu Bing’s ‘Forest Project’ is also profiled, as is Wang Jiuliang’s ‘Beijing Besieged by Waste’ (2008-2010), which includes two videos accompanied by a 360 degree view of a landfill site. After these individual case studies have been reviewed, there is an 8 minute video in which Zheng discusses some of the common themes and issues which unite these socially engaged practices as well as looking at the evolution of artists’ responses to their changing social environment over the last twenty years. The lesson concludes with a discussion which asks participants to contemplate which of the profiled projects they find the most engaging and challenging. Continue reading

#SocialHumanities Datahack: Self-(Re)presentations on Social Media

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As one of the convenors of the TORCH network on the #SocialHumanities, I’m pleased to announce that tomorrow on the 14th January we will be holding our second major event: a Datahack on Self-(Re)presentations on Social Media. The event will be held at the Oxford Launchpad in the Saïd Business School and is being organised by Yin Yin Lu and Kathryn Eccles of the Oxford Internet Institute.

Details of the event including tomorrow’s programme are as follows:

How do people represent themselves on social media, and how are they represented by others? Which qualities and virtues are emphasized (or ignored)? How polarised are these (re)presentations?

The TORCH #SocialHumanities network will explore answers to these questions at our day-long datahack on 14 January, by examining content from YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Wikipedia, Reddit, and other social media platforms. We welcome participants from all disciplines, including the humanities and both social and computational sciences.

In the morning we will have four expert-led workshops, where specific approaches to social media data analysis will be taught, followed by lunch and the datahack proper. During lunch, participants will split into interdisciplinary teams (of two to four people) and decide upon which dataset to explore and which research question to answer. Datasets and questions will be provided, but you are more than welcome to bring your own (we’re both BYOD and BYOQ)!

At the end of the day each group will present their findings; the team with the most interesting and creative analysis will be awarded a prize. Afterwards, we’ll celebrate our achievements and continue the discussion over drinks.

We welcome participants from any and all backgrounds. If you have no programming skills and/or have not analysed social media data before, don’t worry—there will be plenty of opportunities for you to contribute, and data experts will be on hand to help.

If you have any questions please email us at socialhumanities@torch.ox.ac.uk. There is limited space so we recommend that you RSVP as early as possible!

PROGRAMME

09.30-10.00: Registration

10.00-10.30: Introduction and overview of the day

10.30-12.30: Workshops led by Mike Thelwall (SentiStrength), Taha Yasseri (topic modelling), Jason Nurse (identity manifestation), Peter Fairfax (Brandwatch)

12.30-13.30: Team formation and working lunch

13.30-17.00: Data analysis (tea and coffee provided at 15.00)

17.00-18.00: Presentation of findings and group discussion

18.00-19.00: Prizes and drinks reception