In the heart of the famous M50 contemporary art district in Shanghai, between the two ShanghART gallery spaces, is the Chronus Art Center (CAC), the first non-profit organization in China for new media art. Founded in the autumn of 2013 by entrepreneur Dillion Zhang, independent curator Li Zhenhua, and new media artist Hu Jieming, the center focuses on the experimentation, production, exhibition and education of video art and interactive art and technology. Its third show on site is an ambitious “twofold solo” of the renowned Australian new media artist Jeffrey Shaw and his Chinese counterpart, Shanghai-based artist and CAC founder Hu Jieming.
The dimly lit gallery space is divided into two areas, the first housing Hu Jieming’s latest work, Overture and Tai Chi (2014), commissioned by CAC. Hu’s solo is itself organized into two parts. The first, Overture, consists of projected images arbitrarily arranged and embedded into the crevices of the walls in the exhibition space, creating an immersive, fractured, and voyeuristic viewing experience for the audience. Beginning August 8th, the space will also debut Hu’s kinetic installation, Tai Chi. Relying on mechanics and robotics, the life size skeletal structure will provide a novel canvas for 108 projectors, accessing and revealing imagery through mechanical movement.
In the second area of the gallery space is a reconstruction of Jeffery Shaw’s AVIE (Advanced Visualization and Interaction Environment) (2007-2011), a 360 degree stereoscopic projection installation that utilizes the artist’s research in panoramic representation and immersive interactive visualization. Known as a platform where international artists around the world have created original artworks, AVIE serves as a playground for others to test its different aspects and boundaries as well as a retrospective of its own history and the history of digital imaging within the tradition of the Western panorama.
The twofold solo aims to bring international and Chinese new media art into dialogue. In this instance, the essential concerns of both artists revolve around ideas of imagery and what images are within the contemporary context of digital technologies and methodologies. Overture-Tai Chi zones in on the poetics of meaning making by organizing fragmented visualization into nonlinear narratives, where content arises through interaction with the piece. In the case of AVIE, the product of the artist is itself a framework and tool which others may use, and from which new visual languages may be born. In this sense, Shaw’s AVIE and the CAC share the same fundamental desire to serve as a platform for the video art community. The exhibition as a whole demonstrates the wide spectrum of video art today, both in its various forms and creative processes.
Though new media art has been around since the '60s, Chinese artists did not begin experimenting with mediums such as video until the late '80s, and the earliest international new media art show didn’t appear in the country until 2002. Since then, there has been increased interest in emerging technologies and mediums within art practices. Yan Xiaodong, executive director of CAC, explains that new media art, compared to traditional art forms, often requires technological access and support in realizing artist’s ideas. The center aims to provide a needed platform for engagement and intellectual debate around new media art in China, as well as much needed support for artists in their explorations. However, the institution is still in its infancy, and there is much to be seen. The current show has proven to be extensively researched and well executed. Yan’s hope is that through collaborating and sharing with likeminded organizations, CAC will become an active participant in bringing new media to more practitioners and a wider audience in China.
Collaborating artists in AVIE include: Thierry Arredondo, Neil Brown, Jean Michel Bruyere, Dennis Del Favero, Sarah Kenderdine, Ulf Langheinrich, Elizabeth LeCompte, Bernd Lintermann, Matthew McGinity, Davide Quadrio, Lothar Spree, The Wooster Group, Edwin Nadason Thumboo, Delphine Varas, Peter Weibel, Zhu Xiaowen. For more information, please visit http://www.chronusartcentre.org/en/index.aspx.
[All images: Jeffrey Shaw, AVIE (Advanced Visualization and Interaction Environment), installation view, 2007 - 2011; Courtesy of Chronus Art Center]