Saturday, December 02, 2006

A View of Thanksgiving from Shanghai (Shintori)

Image shot by Mark Amerika Nature Photography

(To wit: rock and roll salad, cold tofu on ice, vegetarian sushi plate, sticky rice with cod in baked stone bowl)

Postdated: this photographic work, and many others, are available in limited edition prints for the savvy, travel and leisure art collector looking for Chinese art with a Japanese flair captured by an American art professor as part of his Conde Nast research into the revolution of everyday life. The images captured in China are the latest additions to an ongoing series of "nature photographs" investigating self-portraiture and virtually rendered navigable landscapes that reveal the fluid nature of embodied digital images.

When was the last time you changed your subject position?

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

New Segment from the "Art Research Network"

Chinese art really is hot.

Everywhere I travel, whether it be Berlin, Melbourne, London, Chicago, or even down the road in Denver, there always seems to be some exhibition of contemporary Chinese art. It's gotten to the point where I've seen a few artists (and sometimes the same exact works) in many art capitols. The first one that comes to mind, and one of my personal favorites, is Song Dong's Crumpling Shanghai, a video piece that emphasizes the dust and light of film projections. In the video, close-ups of film footage shot in Shanghai are projected on sheets of paper which are then crumpled by anonymous hands. The crumpling becomes the transitional device used to go from one scene to another. Now you see it, now you don't. Inside my head, post-Shanghai, I hear a voice say, "Things change so fast Shanghai, it crumple in your hand!"

My favorite Chinese artist these days is Yang Zhenzhong. His solo show at the tres hip Shanghart Gallery in the M50 area of Shanghai, blew me away. Entitled Foreplay, where "he uses part fiction and part reality that tangles both the euphoric enthusiasm and deep anxiety of day-to-day experience," the work has lately been described as "an extraordinary distillation of an artistic practice that couldn’t be more preoccupied with the nature of what is real." My first taste of his work was a by-now popular video installation called "Let's Puff." The installation has two video projections on two opposing walls. On one side we see a young woman against a black backdrop taking deep breaths and then blowing it out towards the other side which projects a busy city street (Nanjing) in Shanghai. Every time she dramatically blows out her breath, the street scene is literally pushed backwards as if the entire cityscape where on a "dolly to nowhere" (i.e. "going nowhere really fast"). Says Zhenzhong:
I chose the Nanjing road for the spot of video B. Nanjing road is the most famous commercial street with many remarkable buildings as symbols of Shanghai city. I called four friends to help me and borrowed a wheelchair on that day; just for ensuring the camera could be under smooth movement when I shot the video on the street. All the facilities and methods are simple but effective. One of the friends sitting in the wheelchair is responsible for holding the camera steady, I pulled the wheelchair to back up, running or pausing, with the walkman, by the rhythm of the sound from the CD. The other three friends behind me took the responsibility for dispelling the public in order to keep up the path without barriers. On such a sunny afternoon, we five weird guys, passed the Nanjing road streaming with sweat and, fortunately, we were finished within one hour.
Nature, reality, fiction, truth, anxiety, urbanity, poetic breath, dérive, and technologically-mediated experience. These are the starting points for a philosophically generated new media art practice that ports itself through an ever-shifting array of customized artist-apparatus filters developed by the artist researcher playing with technology.

I first came across Yang's work in Australia and have since tracked it in various locales around the world. So it was with great surprise that I happened upon his solo show at Shanghart Gallery to celebrate their 10 year anniversary.

Other artists whose work I am "feeling it" for include Liu Fei, Zhang Jian Jun, and Yu Xuhong (his "Capturing Shadows" solo show brought back memories of FILMTEXT).

My hotel in Hong Kong is getting in on the Chinese art action too. Check out their blog.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Digital Notation

So, since we are no longer making movies but living our lives as if we were dreamwriting a foreign adventure, why not use various materializations of the new media apparatus as a tool ("narrative device") to capture whatever data I find useful for my own pseudo-autobiographical becomings, and to further manipulate that data for my emergent philosophictions that get distributed here in cyberspace?

The idea of using a video camera as a writing instrument to stylize some informal note-taking, was first introduced to me by Jean-Luc Godard back in 1980-81. Since that time, I have also found Agnes Varda's idea of cinécriture quite useful.

An example of something I jotted down on Friday:

Image shot by Mark Amerika Nature Photography

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