[-empyre-] localized scenes, digital arts & education

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Thu Nov 11 01:22:11 EST 2010

dear all

thanks to all for an inspiring discussion, 
there is much to learn, and i am still thinking of the initial question that was raised at the beginning:

//...looking at look at how (or how not)  
exhibitions, symposia or publications decode across cultural, gender  
and political bounds to both Chinese and Non-Chinese audiences...
.... explore, amongst other topics, how digital practices operate  
in a regulated exhibition system; and the emergences, frictions and  
dialogues between artists and curators within contemporary Chinese  
distributed and digital practices.//

what is meant when you mention regulated exhibition systems?
how does this connect to the presence of international-run galleries
which, i gathered, have opened up in Beijing and Shanghai (and other cities),
and the market, and also the festival circuit  (China's increasingly strong
presence at the Venice Biennale, or documenta for example);
but then again, how do you discuss "new media arts" on 
a very small local level, say, a particular gallery or performance space
in the 798 factory district. 

can one in fact understand a larger picture by looking at a tiny fragment (Jian Wei Shi Shu)?

and what happened to small independent/alternative art galleries or performance spaces?

I remember visiting "Hart Cafe" , located on a small side street inside the 798 Dashanzi district,
for an evening of french underground films and chinese electronic music, there was also a dance improvisation
(duet between dancer and musician), we exchanged CDs,  drank wine, and there were many languages spoken
in the cafe, just as if one were in london or new york.  this was in 2004. there were some video artists
exhibiting, in some of the other galleries, there was a multimedia heavy metal performance one night,  
there was body art, but i am not sure one could think yet of a digital art scene
or come across networks organizing "digital practices" or building production infrastructures and facilities,
but it had to happen, surely.  The Beijing Dance Academy had just built a TV / sound stage to begin to
look at video dance & choreography for the camera. choreographers in Hong Kong had worked with media
already in the early years of the new century, but there were probably no interdisciplinary time arts courses
in the universities yet, and working with software composition in performance was not a tradition; but
international work of this kind was shown in China, and the Olympic Games probably affected everything.
it also probably is easy now to get hold of any and all softwares (for interactive design). Li Yifan from
the School of Art Design (Beijing Institute of Graphic Communication) gave me several DVDs of student
works that were quite interesting, so I guess we probably would like to know more about how graduate
schools took on the "digital."  

I tried to look up the Hart Cafe online, now in 2010, and am impressed/surprised to see how it defines its range of practices now;


::Hart Production is a full-service production support company for international productions in Beijing.
We provide our clients with everything needed to shoot successfully in China, including: 
1. Government Permits 
2. Location Scouting 
3. Hiring Talented Local Crews 
4. Casting 
5. Renting Camera, Lighting, and Grip Equipment 
6. Purchasing Film/Tape Stock 
7. Processing Post Production 
8. All China Logistics (travel, hotels, catering, etc.) 
9. Transportation (trucks, vans, cars, picture vehicles, camera veh

what are the frictions and  
dialogues between artists and curators within contemporary Chinese  
distributed and digital practices (how to localize these?), and how are they owed (or not) to the international
market interests (collectors interests, Biennial interests) on the one hand,
and how are younger Chinese artists (working with a range of media and performance)
perceiving/absorbing the dynamism that Melinda mentions, on the other, with artists from elsewhere flocking to Beijing and
Shanghai "as they were moving to Berlin a decade or so ago"?  The market values of saleable art dropped in 2008, i thought,
but our subject - new media arts - is not so sale-able, yes?   Is the maneuver that Cindy Zeng/ Lao Dan  and Hart Cafe undertook a logical one?

Johannes Birringer

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