‘Shadow Play: Tales of Urbanization of China’ – NRPA Commission & Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art
June 4, 2014 § Leave a comment
On the 25th. Anniversary of Student Protest at Tiananmen Square 1989, Turbulence.org announced a 2013-14 commission of net-art project, ‘Shadow Play: Tales of Urbanization of China’ by Lily & Honglei Art Studio, currently viewable at http://turbulence.org/Works/shadowplay
‘Over the past few decades China has been urbanizing at an astounding pace. In 2013, the People’s Republic unveiled its plan to relocate 260 million people from China’s countryside to one of 21 “mega regions” by 2020 (cbsnews.com). Such a significant shift will undoubtedly transform China’s national character, which has been predominantly agrarian for millennia. Shadow Play weaves three interfaces, Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Physical Reality (PR), and combines the past and present – through time-honored imagery, paint, shadow play, and new media technologies – to immerse participants in the realities of contemporary China.’ – described by Turbulence.org.
(image courtesy of Turbulence.org)
‘Shadow Play,’ according to the artists, ‘creates an opportunity for the audience to experience the changing landscapes of contemporary China. In four chapters, virtual installation sheds light upon real-life incidents such as clashes during land evictions resulting from urban expansion, children abductions, suicides of migrant workers, and predicaments involving the cultural and environmental degradation.
Chapter I. The Land: Death of the Village Head
Chapter II. The Ruins: Lost Children
Chapter III. The City: Into the Void
Chapter IV. The Maze: No Exit‘
‘Shadow Play’ has been selected by the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, to become part of the Special Collections at Cornell University, NY.
May 16, 2014 § Leave a comment
Augmented Reality: The Political Potential of Hybridized Space
May 14, 2014
Locating Technology considers technology and artworks in rather broad terms, such as: mechanical objects, analog and digital photography and video, and computer and web-based work. Through these types of works, writers explore the evolution of technology and its effects on artists’ processes, disciplinarity, and the larger social context of media creation, dispersal, access and interactivity.
Artists have long used approaches like elaborate and surreal narratives and phenomenological or physical experiences to explore the breadth of reality. At its most basic level, reality is a physical or social interaction with a string of consequences that extends beyond oneself. Artists, philosophers, scientists, and technologists continue to unravel reality as a complicated matrix of self and perception. The emerging technology of augmented reality (AR) creates hybridized spaces that merge virtual objects and narratives with the everyday space we inhabit. As AR develops solutions for the many real-world issues it faces (like application, ownership, access, adoption, and format), these issues affect AR’s artistic and political potential.
Using smartphones,1 AR participants scan a Quick Response (QR) code or AR symbol to interact with virtual objects that appear superimposed on the everyday world through their phone’s screen. Unlike two-dimensional images, AR objects are vector-based renderings with X,Y, and Z axes—the same type of data used in 3D printing. Moreover, artists and designers assign global positioning satellite (GPS) coordinates to their objects, placing them in a meta-space that overlaps the tangible space users occupy. Users’ phones coordinate their GPS location with that of the AR object; as participants move through space, the virtual images on their smartphones shift in perspective. As its name suggests, AR attempts to augment, which on a rhetorical level is an improvement made through addition. In contrast, its technological cousin virtual reality (VR) attempts to simulate, which allows designers and artists unlimited freedom to create the context for their narrative or experience. While apps like Layar2 suggest that AR is an additional level placed upon reality, it is actually a hybrid space that merges users’ real, physical embodied location with the virtual and visual experience.
Subsequent to the 1989 Tiananmen uprising, when the People’s Liberation Army violently thwarted protestors, Chinese government censors have attempted to eliminate references to the uprising on the internet and mass media.5 In response, the exiled and anonymous collective 4Gentlemen6 created 3D models of the Goddess of Democracy—like the one erected by students at the Central Academy of Fine Arts during the demonstration—and “Tank Man,” the anonymous figure who stood against a plethora of tanks on Chang’an Avenue. Photographs of the Goddess of Democracy and “Tank Man” are widely circulated around the world and have become iconic images of individual bravery and military authority. 4Gentlemen have placed their AR objects at the GPS locations of the Tiananmen Square protests. Additionally, Google Maps indicates that the AR Goddess of Democracy has been placed at international squares of public protest, like Green Square, Tripoli, Libya; Al Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt; Tahrir Square, Sana’a, Yemen; Pearl Square, Al Manama, Bahrain; Union Square, NY; and Piazzo San Marco, Venice, Italy, to name a few.7 Although erecting physical monuments of protest is challenging in repressive regimes, thus far these AR objects seem to be able to resist censorship. Unlike physical monuments, these AR monuments are easily replicated and moved, and can linger long after protests have occurred.
While GPS allows artists and designers to create politically challenging works about specific locations, its physical requirements are also potential barriers to users. With AR objects tied to GPS coordinates, participants need to occupy the same location to experience the work. Because I was unable to go to any of the specific locations in Chicago and China, I did not directly experience any of the pieces in this essay. Art writing is frequently researched through and complemented with photographic or video documentation, whether because the works are not easily available, no longer exist because they were ephemeral in nature or destroyed, or have restricted access because of conservation or ownership issues. With works that demand or transform physical or social relationships, it is difficult to develop an understanding of a work’s artistic and political potential without physically experiencing it. Additionally, in politically sensitive locations where users are concerned about government surveillance, individuals may be reticent to participate for fear of being recorded, given the ubiquity of video cameras and smartphones. Though Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei has famously turned his camera back on the government’s surveillance of his own life, it may be too much to ask ordinary citizens to take the same risks.
In Life on the Screen (1995), psychologist and sociologist Sherry Turkle provides many examples of the therapeutic and deleterious aspects of role-playing—be it Live Action Role Playing (LARP) or virtual games. The ability to segregate/apply pure fantasy from/to real life seems rather specific to the individual and context. We have yet to see if hybridized space, with one foot in reality and one in the digital space, affects users’ abilities to transfer political and social ideas beyond the realm of fantasy. While currently AR’s rather crude and artificial appearance may interfere with users’ ability to leap between AR and everyday life, its mimetic capacity will only improve over time. When faced with similar technological obstacles, the simplified graphics and robotic movement of early interactive games, like Second Life, did not deter some users from being fully immersed in the imaginative narratives; some users even became dependent on the worlds. Turkle suggests that despite an absence of believability, both logically and visually, in early technologies—like artificial-intelligence (AI) robots, computer simulations like ELIZA, and interactive games—individuals project their personal or psychological desires onto things, machines, and images to construct a narrative and connection. As AR’s graphic capabilities continue to develop, the ability for users to make psychological, political, and social transferences between screen time and real time will improve.
With fundamental questions about the platform and its use, adoption, and so on still to be determined, AR poses a potential political and economic battle for the everyday space we inhabit. As billboards sprung up along the once ill-defined spaces of the interstates, these routes became commodifiable. Additionally, the internet, the so-called “super highway,” has become dotted with banner ads as commercial interests compete for our attention. Our everyday space, like when walking down the street, may also become a contested zone, as every physical point is a GPS location with the potential for being a pop-up ad or a location for governmental censorship or surveillance.
May 2, 2014 § Leave a comment
From Hong Kong Alliance – in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China
Address: “I-cafe”, 4/F, Academic Building, City University of Hong Kong, Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon Tong
Opening dates and hours: April 15 to July 15, Monday to Friday, 10am to 6pm; Sat, Sun and public holiday, 12noon to 8pm
“June 4 Memorial Museum” includes the display of both actual artifacts and synthesised information, such as the reconstruction of the scene on Tiananmen Square and Chang An Boulevard. The content of the exhibition includes:
1. Corridor of History: “Prequel to June 4”, “The Blood Stained History” and “Footsteps and Battle Cries – Hong Kong and the 89’ Democracy Movement” photo and text exhibition
2. Interactive Zone: “Dare not Forget: June 4 Massacre” multimedia education zone
3. Relics Zone: Display of copy of relics related to 89 democracy movement and June 4 massacre, for example bullets, t-shirts with signatures of the students on the square, flyers and newspaper.
4. Library: Display of books, magazines, newspaper and flyers related to 89’ democracy movement and June 4 massacre. Some are available for browsing.
5. Goodwill Cards: Visitors are welcome to write or draw their memorial messages, feelings and opinions on the electronic or paper cards.
6. Gifts Corner: Selling books and souvenir on democracy movement.
The Alliance welcomes school booking from May 4 to June 10, where students are invited to visit and participate in “June 4” education workshop, to understand the history of June 4, to explore the spirit of 89’ democracy movement and the quest for social justice, and to learn about the current situation of the families of June 4 victims. Through these learning experience we hope to enhance young people’s understanding of our motherland, provoke reflection on the relationship between oneself and his country, and perpetuate the spirit of the democracy fighters who sacrificed their freedom and even their lives for the democracy and prosperity of China.
The Summer of 89′
They say time is the best cure for memories of pain and suffering, yet time has not lessened our pain of watching thousands of students being slaughtered in Tiananmen Square all those years ago. Their noble aspirations and bravery will be remembered by this generation, and by the next generation through our continue effort.
The patriotic democratic movement triggered by the death of Hu yaobang in 1989 have brought out the problems of widespread corruption and commodity price manipulation of government officials. It has subsequently led to the June 4th Massacre in the Tiananmen Square….
- The Summer of 89′
- Brief Summary of the Events of 89′
- Diary 89′
- The Goddess of Democracy
- Poems, Speeches, Articles and Slogans
- The Dead and the Living
- Multimedia Archive
November 23, 2009 § Leave a comment
Internet, Robotics, Programming & Animation Technology Selection
Interactive Digital Art and Animation
Sunday Nov 22nd
@ Queens Museum of Art
NYC Building at Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Trolley back and forth from Willets Point 7 Train Station & Museum
Roboaction 5 by Dragan Ilic
Sand Box Animator
Pondang by Seokhwan Cheon
88 Constellations for Wittgenstein by David Clark
Your Life, Our Movie by Fernando Velazco
Rocamadour by Sinara Rozo
Compost by Judson & K Staelin
Sharedscapes by Zabe Gregoire
The Cube V 2.1 by Balam Soto
Sinus Aestum & Lacus Temporis by Brett Battey
The Sea Remembered Yesterday 1 & 2 by Anna Peach
Dristi III by Jen-Kuang Chang
Masstorage by Hedwig Brouckaert
Sub – C by JD Casas
ROUE by Taili WU
From One Dream to Another by Jason Lujan
Dream Test Pattern by Miguel Cubillos
LoopLoop by Bergeron Patrick
Zumo Natural & Playa by LaminalB Collective
[Untitled] Cubicle by Jacob Galle
Milky Way by Lily & Honglei
Fluid v2 is made possible thanks to the support of the Queens Council for the Arts,
Local Project, Queens Museum of Art and el Museo del Barrio.
November 13, 2009 § Leave a comment
Today, on 13 November 2009, VideoChannel Cologne is happy to launch
CologneOFF V – Taboo! Taboo?
5th Cologne Online Film Festival 2009
online starting together with its 2009 festival partners
MICROWAVE – New Media Arts Festival 2009 Hong Kong
13 Nov – 11 Dec 2009
FONLAD – Digital Art Festival Guarda/Portugal
14 November 2009 – 03 January 2009
Earlier this year, Microwave Hong Kong invited VideoChannel to prepare two
shows of video art for the 2009 festival, resulting two outstanding screening programs as a networked action
“Memory & Identity” – a show which was in September 2009 featured on VideoChannel
contributed by VisualContainer Milan and curated by Giorgio Fideli
celebrating the partnership between VideoChannel and Visual Container –
public screenings between 14 November until 24 November 2009 at I/O (Input/Output) Hong Komg
“Body and Soul – 15:15:15” – a thematic presentation – one of the very rare physical manifestations of
Agricola de Cologne (the encoded artist, chief curator of VideoChannel and director of CologneOFF)
and an original way to launch CologneOFF V in physical space
on 22 November 2009 at Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre Lecture Hall –
which was made possible through the generous support by Goethe Institute Hong Kong
For more info, please download the PDF –
The second partner of VideoChannel in 2009 is FONLAD – Digital Art Festival Guarda/Portugal
representing the framework for the 2nd physical CologneOFF V manifestation
in the two days screenings on 24 amd 25 November 2009.
In December 2009, another CologneOFF manifestation is scheduled in Bristol/UK
and in February 2010 in India.
About Cologne OFF V
Founded in 2006 by VideoChannel in the framework of [NewArtMedia ProjectNetwork]:||cologne,
the experimental platform for art and new media,
CologneOFF is realising in 2009 its 5th festival edition under the topic of “Taboo”.
According to (wikipedia) “A taboo is a strong social prohibition or ban against words, objects, actions, or discussions considered undesirable or offensive to a group, culture, society, or community. Breaking a taboo, considered objectionable, abhorrent or unacceptable by the majority in a community by in engaging in activities or not adhering to local customs usually leads to severe penalties applied by rule of law. Other common reactions by persons breaking taboos result in embarrassment, shame and are commonly considered by others as a sign of rudeness.”
In our Western socities “the taboo” changed its meaning profoundly and does actually not exist anymore as a dogma and an instrument of social and moral ruling, but it is replaced by a kind of individual “taboo” practiced by groups of mind-likes. In this way, people can be confronted with different types of “taboos” depending on the needs of certain social groups. The selected videos refer to this invidualization and take the artistic consequences in most different ways, whereby the digital technology offers many solutions to the artists and the viewer. It is this variety, which makes the festival program so exciting and vivid. It is up to the viewer to search and find his personal definition(s).
CologneOFF V consists of 5 program sections including
–> 50 shortfilms and videos in 3 international programs
–> a feature of 14 German art films/videos and
–> a selection of 14 One Minute Films made by the guest curator Ali Zaidi (London)
and contributed by MOTIROTI London
For more info about the festival and its films, please download the festival catalogue as PDF
On occasion of the CologneOFF V launch,
VideoChannel is releasing online “Feature II” of German Video Art
Including viideos by the German artists/directors participating in CologneOFF V.
After Feature I, presenting the outstanding Cologne based video artist Johanna Reich,
Feature II is offering the diversity of digital video of 15 artist/directors.
Feature III, the next following focus on German video art is planned to be released in
VideoChannel – video project environments
CologneOFF – Cologne Online Film Festival
MICROWAVE – New Media Arts Festival Hong Kong
FONLAD – Digital Art Festival
netMAXX – networked experience
Goethe Institute Hong Kong
MICROWAVE Hong Kong
powered by [NewMediaArtProjectNetwork]:||cologne
the experimental platform for art and new media from Cologne/Germany
October 26, 2009 § Leave a comment
5. 入选作品将在“第二人生”DSL虚拟当代艺术馆 (参看 www.dslcybermoc.net）展出。这种独特、创新和挑战性的展览方式已经得到艺术团体、评论家和策展人的越来越多的关注，并逐渐被中国艺术家社区所熟悉。
October 24, 2009 § Leave a comment
Going back to the concept of ‘heterotopy’ (other space), today I’ve come upon a beautiful machinima entitled ‘Land of Illusion’ by Beijing media artists Lily Xiying Yang and Honglei Li (杨熙瑛, 李宏磊).
It’s a very dense and multilayered tale about freedom of thought and cultural isolation and it interestingly superimposes different Chinese traditions and folkloristic elements, both of its glorious past (from the literary classics such as the ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ and the legend of the ‘Hundred Schools of Thought’ to the religious taoist beliefs, the emblematic profile of the Great Wall and the traditional Chinese scroll-paintings) and elements from its chaotic and contradictory present (from the contested Three Gorges Dam to the intense figure of a modern woman wearing a blood-stained mask, reminding many contemporary social issues, from censorship to the role of women in society or the recent mortal bird flu).
‘Land of Illusion’ interweaves tradition and globalization and it’s a perfect and beautiful example of the unlimited artistic possibilities offered in a virtual platform such as SL. What I personally like especially in this machinima is the highly refined accumulation of symbols, emblems and visual metaphors: from the powerful and visually effective Great Wall in flame (I like to interpret it as a symbol of openness to the outside world) to the submerged world under the sea (another ‘heterotopy’ inside the biggest one of SL) and the final intense character of the silenced Chinese girl.
Unfortunately the actual SL sim of ‘Land of Illusion’ is currently unavailable and you can only teleport your avatar to the nearest Museum of Contemporary Art, which is apparently the original setting of the machinima. (DSL Cyber MoCA – Museum of Contemporary Art in SL, http://dslcybermoca.net, UQBAR 164, 237, 35).