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

Edward Sanderson ed at escdotdot.com
Fri Nov 12 15:10:00 EST 2010

Hello Johannes,

Although I don't want to take this off-topic too much, I just wanted  
to chip in with some quick responses to your question about  
alternative spaces, as this is one of my interests, and try to link  
this to new media.

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

As you probably know the international gallery system has been adopted  
with bravado here. Admittedly it serves as a very important bridge  
between the local and international participants, but at the expense  
of somewhat reducing the options available for new developments, or at  
least slowing these possibilities down.

New media work has suffered from this "dumbing down" (ok, that went  
too far, perhaps simplification is a better word) of the scene,  
probably because of it's potential complexity. I guess this is not a  
new situation, either here or elsewhere.

As for "alternatives", some exist in the centers (Beijing, Shanghai,  
Guangzhou, Hangzhou), their patterns often borrowed from conceptual or  
institutional critique, but given the local twist there are different  
possibilities for these activities and different results with  
different meanings.

I've been here three years and I've not heard of the Hart Cafe. The  
website looks like it's dormant and there is no address given. But  
this is the way things work, people come and go, spaces open and close  
without fanfare or warning. The way Hart are positioning themselves  
suggests that they needed to broaden their appeal, to better position  
themselves at the commercial end. This is a common and realistic tactic.

Another "tiny fragment" which this makes me think of would be Shan  
Studio <http://shan-studio.com/?lang=en> set up by two artists, Sheng  
Jie (Gogo) and Yang Tao to provide workshops and support for artists  
working in new media. These grass-roots initiatives pop up every now  
and again and are a good sign of diversity.


On 2010-11-10, at 下午10:22, Johannes Birringer wrote:

> 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;
> http://www.hart.com.cn/
> ::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?
> regards
> Johannes Birringer
> London
> http://www.brunel.ac.uk/dap
> _______________________________________________
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> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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Edward Sanderson
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UK Mobile: +44 7958 599108
skype: escdotdot

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