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

Edward Sanderson ed at escdotdot.com
Thu Nov 18 19:54:55 EST 2010

Hello Johannes, everyone,

My knowledge is very Beijing-biased, so apologies for that.

798 is a perfect example of how the development of an area can kill  
off the creativity which attracted the attention in the first place.  
Following the investment in the area's infrastructure in preparation  
for the Olympics, 798 is a very different place from even 3 years ago.  
Rents skyrocketed and this forced out the more alternative/ 
uncommercial spaces. Of course this affects any type of creativity,  
not just new media work. The more economically viable work, such as  
painting of a certain style, is in a better position to survive. I can  
count the spaces in 798 where there is a hope of seeing interesting  
work on the fingers of one hand now.

In Beijing the only space which explicitly focuses on new media is  
Yuanfen Gallery in 798, which is run by an American, David Ben Kay <http://yuanfenart.com/ 
 >. He presents photography, video and interactive work in small group  
shows usually mixing Chinese and foreign artists, I think he curates  
it himself.

Most other places have a broader remit though. Video, video 
+installation, animation are all common to see in group shows in the  
less mainstream galleries. I don't see so much work like aaajiao's on  
display in Beijing – maybe aaajiao can give an idea of the options  
for presentation for this kind of work?

For sound work, Vitamin Creative Space in Guangzhou and Vitamin's "the  
shop" in Beijing have hosted a number of sound events (usually  
organised by Yan Jun, I believe) alongside their more traditional  
gallery activities. UCCA also host sound art and experimental music  
events (again, Yan Jun is involved with these).

There are quite a few club-style events for new media performances of  
the DJ/VJ format, one-off nights or part of festivals. Festivals which  
accommodate the full range of art forms happen irregularly, Get it  
Louder <http://www.getitlouder.com/> or NO+CH <http://www.notch10.com/ 
 > have both included "new media" works.

Outside of China as always I guess one relies on curators who are  
known to promote new media (Li Zhenhua for instance was involved in  
the ChinaChinaChina!!! <http://www.strozzina.org/chinachinachina/>  
show in 2008/9)

As Melinda mentioned way back, there was the issue of neural.it <http://www.neural.it/art/2008/04/neural_29.phtml 
 > which focused on Chinese new media. How do people feel it was  
presented there?


On 2010-11-16, at 上午2:53, Johannes Birringer wrote:

> Dear all, dear Edward
> thanks for your recent response, and commentaries on the independent  
> scene.
> I felt a bit foolish afterwards for thinking that the website (Cindy  
> Zeng/Lao Dan and Hart Cafe)
> meant that they had expanded or changed their policy and were alive  
> and well; I tried to
> contact them directly but have not heard back, and this makes your  
> observation
> on the impact of internationalization on the local scene more  
> poignant to me (and I was referring mostly
> to the 798 Dashanzi district, which in 2004 looked thorough  
> alternative & independent), when
> i think of similar efforts to sustain grass roots or independent  
> media labs and spaces here or elsewhere,
> everywhere. How do these infrastructural and political-economic  
> developments affect the
> new media arts and performance making as such, how do they affect or  
> influence the discourse?
> You mention some alternative plaves in the "centers"?
> and what kind of "new media arts" or contemporary digital  
> performance is curated there, and what
> is curated/supported for traveling /viewing outside of China?
> in the northern hemisphere (or southern - if one were to think of  
> the chinese cultural presence in Brasil as well),
> how is contemporary chinese art met in the discourses or cracked  
> media?
> with regards
> Johannes
>>> ..Edward schrieb:
> 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.
> Best,
> Edward
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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