The Vast Horizon
Yan Xiaodong - Art Yan (Curator)
Extensiveness beyond the view.
Horizon named - skyline in archaism, is the line between sky and earth, which is a natural and simple concept but contains the infinite images and extensiveness beyond the view.
«The Horizon» on the Century Avenue
Horizon - Outdoor Project is an exhibition project, which makes annotation for the theme of eARTS 2008—«Urbanized Landscape» by using multivariate works. To say it on the form, «the horizon» is not a simple stretch from indoor exhibition to outdoor. Reselection of room reflects the expectation of host, as well as collectivity thinking and sustaining practice for the new media arts. Therefore, such an attempt is with profound meaning.
Five expressions on the horizon
Situated on the west side of Sandstone Square, the work of Maurice Benayoun, the French artist, is endowed a western thinking skill, which can be seen from its naming: NeORIZON is a compound word. It means Neo-Horizon and also hides a completely opposite attitude and judgment-No Horizon. More skills can be tasted from the layout of works' visual form and function the artist arranges. The artist realizes audiences interactions and even presets partial experience and revelation got from the work through this layout: worms with identities scattered in the plaza have strange (with specific orientation) geometrical modeling, which attract audiences' probes to move to the end where worm bodies become small and slender. Then, the «game» begins and portraits of audiences are caught and conversed into 2-dimensional bar codes with uniqueness. Later, this group of corresponding information (portraits and 2-dimensional bar codes) immediately display on the (projecting screen of ) another huge end of worms. Groups of identity information from each worm are collected into an archive (database). The achievement of archive management is represented in the visual form of real-time animation on the huge screen not far from worms. Finally, a continuous collection of identities forms a code city in the end. Audiences can download to get their own 2-dimensional bar code through specific website, and the work extends beyond the field at the same time. With the ambiguous attitude, the creator gets to the «basic relationship» on which establishing a city (system) depends, and represents such an old topic into a visible modern research model which can be experienced by using to the common techniques and public information platform at present.
Embedded Project, situated in the middle section of the Sandstone Square, is a work created by both new media artist Aaajiao and Chinese architects Wang Luming and Wang Zhenfei. In fact, the entire work is a concentrated achievement release of multi-structure research plan. In their compound regional constructing research, these two architects think and re-explore from the perspective of integrity on methodology, working procedures and even working tools. Employing computer arithmetic (both mathematics and geometry), they intend to relate and inosculate internal logic of arithmetic with logics of performing process and objects of constructing and design (objective conditions or demand, including environment of social culture, political factors, material economic conditions, natural conditions, etc.), thus reaching designing results beyond expectations. Based on the combining concept, Aaajiao, the new media artist, embeds tens of fabricated «arithmetic constructions» which are produced in researches into the new platform of public information provided by Google Earth for releasing. In this «horizon» project, Embedded Project, one of «arithmetic constructions», gets its true reproduction through executing and constructing. When audiences enter into the «construction», they can control the Google Earth images (lens perspectives, observing distance from the ground) projected on the ground by the body movement in the valid area, look through embedded arithmetic constructions one by one, or more likely merge into enormous information on the earth surface directly. The entire work gives audiences the experience beyond daily sense (cognitive) with seemly simple methods of providing information. The work also indicates effectively that: some sensitive pioneers in this field have been aware of obtaining resources complements including information, concepts and techniques by cooperating with other fields, thus trying to achieve re-conformity from perspectives of working objective, methodology, working procedures and even tools so as to get decisive breakthrough.
People have forgetten the apes and worship the idols (OUXIANG), I, situated in the central corridor of the Giant pillar Square is the work of Gu Chen ,a Chinese artist. The name of work involves two extreme propositions of human beings: the origin of life and religious belief. The imaginative artist endows his work with the nature of living organism, shapes it into a living organism - «idol» (OU XIANG), which has hidden origin (physically and mentally) or even has dependent relationship with human beings. The entire work includes multi-media mechanism with bionic configuration of «tail» and «head» (this part is relatively abstract), interactive image with the same theme, and non-field part of the work (website). The artist make a connotation here, and compare it to the delicate relationship among people. The individual tail is 2.5 meters high with orderly two lines of «tails» whose maximum diameter is 15cm (16 individuals each line with a distance of 1 meter every other individual), and there are a couple of coniform «head» installations in both end of each line. The entire installation is in the very center of the plaza corridor, which seems to conform with the symmetrical layout of the plaza, but reveals obvious conflicts even contrariness.... When audiences approach and walk along the tail lines, tails will be activated to wake up from their state of free movements, and their tails trace actions of audiences warily with tails bending and facing the ground. The «characteristic differences» of each tail seem to be obvious according to their swaying frequency and force degree. The head installation mainly resorts to images for demonstration and interventions of audiences (mainly referring to sounds) will «control» the scenario development to some extent. Since Part B of this installation (it is also composed of tail and head installations) is the exhibition of Hoarding and Transforming- New Media Art Youth Exhibition, another project of this year's art festival, the head installation works a role as a window for Part A and B to interact with each other from different places. It is worthy of being mentioned that all such things are embodied in the details of the work as Gu Chen's endowment in mathematics and physics, his aesthetic grasps for inner logic and technical standards of the work even engineering controlling, all of which profit from his talent.
The work «Lemna Luciola» is created by the French artist Catherine Nyeki, which will show a garden built in the water to the audience. The whole work is formed by the artificial crystal floating on the surface of river. This work is intended to explore an unusual nature through the audience looking at the mirror. A kind of transparent material putted into the pond, becomes the luminous object by digital printing, which seems like a lotus, shining differently from day to night to make people have more imaginations.
E-Sea is an interactive installation work located at specific place, which is inspired by the luminous phenomenon of some marine organisms - tens of thousands of organisms send out the light, forming a track of the light and the variable ripple, which bring wonderful experience to audiences. On the other hand, the work also means the city of «Shanghai»: «Shanghai», can be understood as «sea + above» (for above the sea-level). The work will show the display place Central Square — Century Venue, Pudong New Area, as the sea composed by a variety of flow, ripple (people's behavior), tide (different events) and deep flow (Underground Line), while these different «horizon» (vision) is also the input source of the work's interactive effect.
Shanghai eArts Festival 2008 is a blend of foreign and local Chinese works in electronic arts that will showcase its elegance and charm to the public. On this occasion, I would like to express my sincere greetings and gratitude to all the artists and organizers of the festival.
Electronic art is the creation from integration and interaction of Art and Technology. The history of human civilization has taught us on the development of Science and Technology on the formation of arts. The purpose of organizing this event is to promote the field of art and technology together with economic and technology development as well as artistic skills by the curators. Therefore, prior to my utmost confidence, this event is a perfect avenue for artists with specialization on science for the enchantment of art and a perfect platform for appreciation and interaction with scientific enlightenment for the viewing of public.
Shanghai is a place with modernity of Chinese culture and a mix of other cultures, thus, this event reflects on cultural innovation, hence, the acceleration of Shanghai's «Four-leads» and «Four-center», strive for the development of socialist advanced culture and turning the city into a cultural metropolis, thereby, this event should be in the track of socialist advanced culture, with growing aspiration on cultural movement and a combination of science and technology plus humanity. This event will showcase a host of cultures including the local Chinese culture characteristics on this century and the nation itself.
I'd like to express my sincere blessing for the development of electronic arts in Shanghai, where the world's leading electronic arts curators congregate. Therefore, I hope Shanghai eArts Festival turns out to be a great cultural brand. To conclude, I wish all the best and success in this event.
Electronic Art, is not only a reflection of how electronic technology inspires artistic creation, but is also changes how we think of creativity, and how people interact between the real and the virtual.
Through technology and the Internet, electronic art has helped us to rethink aspects of our physical existence, such as time and distance. This inspires in us new, and sometimes unrealizable dreams - «Synthetic Times» brings us wonder, amazement and new knowledge and wishes.
Shanghai eArts Festival 2007 provided an answer to the question: Why does Shanghai need an electronic art festival?
Shanghai eArts Festival 2008 addressed a new challenge - how to move towards the «Better City, Better Life» theme of Shanghai EXPO 2010? The answer comes in featuring «Urbanized Landscape» in an electronic way, encouraging people to learn and understand the meaning of «Better City, Better Life».
Last year, Shanghai eArts Festival rapidly achieved worldwide fame and recognition. Shanghai is an international, cosmopolitan city - and her capacity and vitality have been reflected perfectly in the Festival's concept and artistic excellence.
The Shanghai eArts Festival is entirely unique, and brings together Chinese and international electronic art, looking at the past 30 years of development in the first. The highly creative art projects unite the finest of Chinese national culture with the newest technology.
This year, the Shanghai eArts Festival places more emphasis on diversification and congruence, on the creativity of contemporary art, and the development of the electronic creative industries.
Close attention is also paid to art practice and art research as well as to nurturing creative talents. International workshops will be presented at the Shanghai eArts Festival, with a series of globally renowned art organisations. Emerging Chinese artists will join leading global new media artists for the Shanghai eArts Festival 2008.
I would like to express my gratitude to the Publicity Department of the CPC Shanghai Committee, who offer such great support to the Shanghai eArts Festival. Under the leadership of the Publicity Department of the CPC Shanghai Committee, Shanghai eArts Festival established its core ideas from the beginning: realizing the transition from «borrowing» to «creating», and from «copied» to «produced» in the content; from «processed» to «created» and from «explored» to «geared» in the multilayered industry.
I would like to thanks also the young working team of Shanghai eArts Festival. Composed of only 10 members and with an average age of 27.4 averagely, the team have been acknowledged by the partnered global leading art organizations and artists for their professional dedication, efficiency, excellent ability in communication, coordination, project organization and management.
Much as Shanghai eArts Festival is widely accepted by the world, Shanghai is capable of becoming into «the new hub» of electronic art internationally. The world believes that Shanghai stands at the frontier of electronic art and establishes an international Creative brand Shanghai eArts Festival which leverages the city into a creative branded city.
I wish Shanghai eArts Festival 2008 great success!
In an urbanized setting, a landscape is not simply what is defined in the natural sciences as ''a scene that people can enjoy of mountains and streams, grass and flowers, trees and buildings and various natural phenomena (such as rain or snow) within a fixed area. Rather it reflects the interplay of the concentration in urban centers of society, economy, culture and ecology, all fused in an unseen way with technology. That is, the word «landscape» now connotes even more inner logic and humanistic implications.
People, the crucial aspect of any landscape, have become an unexpected focal point in the landscape of urban activities. Human actions and behavior have a direct bearing on whether a landscape becomes «beautiful» or «ugly». The relationship between man and environment has always been a subject of discussion. Cities have changed the way people gather together, digital technology has changed the way people relate in groups and the distances between them. Therefore, perspective and visibility are both quietly undergoing change in this digital era. The abundant ways of disseminating information and conveying and perceiving indirect information give us the opportunity to discover the existence of more landscapes, which we can actively experience. The boundaries of specific areas are being expanded, spin-offs are created from visible «scenes», and we can even externalize inner feelings into a new kind of sight.
Post-urbanization landscapes are artificial. It also includes «landscapes» that occur outside the scope of existed physical urban space — those landscapes appear in the process of urban construction in a state of flux. Because the march toward the cities is a continuous process, there are always various uncertainties. Urbanization is a global concern, and it isn't necessarily always in opposition to localization — globalization is a subject that has become epidemic in this world, but it leapfrogs over local focus that leaves us to reflect. This then is the inevitable question: In an urban setting that is convenient and materially progressive and abundant, how can we accommodate nature in these urban landscapes? It's hard to know why this question has become so pressing. Perhaps it is a revulsion against materialism? Or a longing for a city that is closer to the notion of an organic community? Or the imperative of sustainability? At the heart of this question is the issue of «belonging».
Art that is related to «landscape» is the most important and essential component in the history of Chinese art and humanities. Can digital technologies help us to renew the urban landscape and our relationship to it; and what exactly is the relationship between a material landscape and a digital one? In addressing these questions, artists are central for they are the ones that can help us to reimagine our own living space. It may be that digital artists can help us to reinvent the urban landscape, fill it with an inner spirit. Last year, the theme of Shanghai eArts was «The Wisdom of Crowds»; this year we develop the spirit behind that question with the focus on «Urbanized Landscape». We invite everyone to participate and help us to imagine a new urbanized landscape.
eArts is presenting the second edition of its international festival for contemporary art focussed on artistic innovation and artistic productions in the context of an increasing technological culture. eArts takes the city and contemporary experiences of the city as a research field for artistic practices. Understanding and envisioning the modern city and its social and cultural conditions is therefore one of the focus points of the festival. It does so by understanding art and culture as a reflective and innovative force for society in general. One of the important goals of the festival is to position and stimulate Chinese artistic and cultural production within a global context of developments and to stimulate the exchange of knowledge and experience between national and international networks, individuals and organisations. To achieve this a series of workshops will be presented that are organised in collaboration with international partners. Next to hosting an exhibition of internationally renowned art works and art projects, eArts has organised an exhibition focussed on young Chinese artists and students thus offering a platform for exchange and debate for young Chinese artists.
eArts has taken our imagination and understanding of the contemporary modern city as the starting point for the exhibition with Chinese artists and students, thus positioning this exhibition within the process of fast urbanisation that is so exemplarily for the conditions of Shanghai and many other Chinese and Asian cities. The city seen as a living system in a state of constant decomposition but also continually reorganising and rearranging itself, and expanding and shrinking in time. The city as a process of accumulation and transformation. One of the actors or agents in this process of self-organisation is the urban population, including city architects, urbanists, artists, cultural practitioners, social workers, the citizens and the local government officials. Other important agents include technology and technological developments, media and migration. The concept of the festival shows that eArts is not looking at describing the city as being an outsider, it recognises that every description of the city as process, is itself a product of that process and thus part of it. Every cityscape is a function of the city imagined. If you want to understand a development, it's no good standing outside the process; you have to step into it. From the inside you can detect the transformations, what direction things are going, what is changing and what new things are emerging.
It is within this concept that the exhibition with young Chinese artists and students titled «Nature of Cities - The Next Generation» can be looked at. The exhibition presents different experiences and different perceptions of the city as envisioned by artists and students. Participation and interaction are therefore keywords for this exhibition, which is represented by the sorts of art works and the media tools developed and used by the artists.
The exhibition is covering a wide range of approaches and viewpoints reflecting our contemporary experience and understanding of the city ranging from Google Earth panoptic satellite viewpoint, to the Situationist's concept of «la Derive», and the relation between individual and mass or private and public. The artists offer the audience different viewpoints and perspectives on the modern city by opening up and bringing into our experience the complex set of relations that define a city nowadays. The art works use different media and forms of interaction for this, and present different forms of visualising - sometimes invisible - processes of the city, or reflect how our image of the city is constructed through popular culture (photography, film, animation).
The fact that eArts chooses to present its projects in public or semi-public space opens up a dialogue about the crucial role of public space as a space for expression and debate. Nowadays we can see a growing claim of the public domain and public space by different players such as corporate business and media conglomerates, and how surveillance systems are increasingly occupying public space, a process that can be seen in all cities around the world.
Public space is in a process of transformation, in a process of being reinvented, it is fuelling the debate about the relation between private and public, two formerly separated domains, and how media- and communication technology (mobile phones, wireless networks, locative media) are redefining these domains and their social and cultural functions as well as how we can act and interact in public space as individuals and groups. Public space, as the space where things can become public and visible is thus opened up by eArts for research and experiments by artists, designers, urban explorers and architects. But there is more to this.
By presenting art in public space eArts is indirectly addressing the question about art and its public dimensions and complicity, a question which is prominently on the agenda of contemporary arts worldwide because there is a big need to position and redefine art within the social and cultural transformations of our time and the experiences it brings about, and in which information and communication technology plays such a dominant role. eArts is thus positioning itself not only as an important local player but also as an organisation that is participating and contributing to an international discourse and practice about the contemporary role of art and culture in contemporary societies.
Use the word «landscape» in the English language and it probably conjures up green fields or hills or a certain kind of pastoral art; use the word «urbanised» and it usually conjures up streets, crowds, cars. It's as if, in the English language, the yoking together of «urban» and «landscape» into the phrase urbanised landscape is an attempt to heal the profound historical dichotomy between the country and the city, the subject of a famous book with that title by Raymond Williams which traced the opposition between country and the city in European thought since Roman times.
But of course the tension and complex relationship between country and the city is hardly something that is distinctively western. Just take an example from contemporary Chinese popular culture - Cell Phone, the recent fine and popular Chinese film by Feng Xiaogang. Here is a film that sets up a tension between the country and the city in the life of a metropolitan husband who returns to the country to visit his mother. It is a film with a complex and humorous understanding of the country/city dichotomy. But what makes the film resonate in the context of this festival devoted to digital arts is that the country and city relationship in the film is articulated partly through technology and, above all, through the cell phone. The countryside is imagined as the place of community, the city as the place of secrecy and isolation - the film begins humorously with villagers listening to a communal message through a large trumpet and moves on to contrast this with the role of cell phones in the private lives of city dwellers.
Of course, the terms the «country» and the «city» are conceptual, ideological and historical terms. But at another level they are geographical or spatial terms. But what the new digital technology allows us to do is reconfigure our ideas of space and geography and to find new ways of imagining cities. In the same way that the invention of the printing press, which allowed people to read privately rather than be read to communally, helped to invent the idea of a private life - irrespective of what particular books were read - so digital technology has helped to bring into being new and distinctively urban ideas of community and of the urban landscape.
Stand in a city street and notice how many people are talking on a cell phone - it is such a common sight in cities from Shanghai to London that is now unremarkable. Yet in historical terms this is something wholly unprecedented - someone is walking though a street in one city and is at the same time connected or networked with someone in the same city, another part of the country or even another continent. This has quite profound implications, if insufficiently examined, for our understanding of community.
Once upon a time a community was something geographically sited. The people who lived next to one another, near to one another, constituted the community. Now cell phone technology, in particular, but digital technologies in general, have enabled us to reimagine the idea of community. Take the online game World of Warcraft, which is played from China to France, from the US to Britain. Ten million people worldwide belong to the World of Warcraft community, share interests, play together, talk with one another - yet never meet other than online. Or notice the way that cell phone technology has allowed the anti-globalisation community to communicate with one another or the way that mobile technology has allowed flash mobs to come into being, bringing people together in public spaces for communal events.
This new way of relating to one another, virtually rather than physically or virtually as well as physically, has profound implications for our understanding of the urbanised landscape - not least for urban planners and policy makers. When urban policy makers plan city development - whether they are in Shanghai or New York - they tend to think in terms of hardware: buildings and transport, for example. Of course these are important but it is equally important to think of the urban «software» - the human capacity and the technology, and especially the mobile technology, that human beings use to reinvent themselves and the city.
A good example of the tussle between the relative importance of human software and physical hardware can be found in the dilemma that confronts urban planners. Urban planners all over the world are trying to build creative quarters (hardware) for a variety of reasons. It is believed that these creative quarters can help to develop the creative economy which will be an increasingly important sector in all developed nations or regions; that they can help a city brand itself in ways that allow it to attract new investment and talent. All this may be true but the question is: should urban planners begin by building the hardware (the real estate) or should they help develop and strengthen the hardware around existing talent (or software)? The history and example of 798 in Beijing suggests that they should be led by the software: after all, the hardware - the derelict factories were found - by a group of artists and designers who initially rescued the complex and turned it into one of Beijing's showcases. One of the strengths of the software-driven approach is that there is no need for new buildings, no need to keep mastering the environment - something important for a sustainable future. With Shanghai eArt's building complex to be opened this year, it is also the case that, rather than construct a new building, the festival has taken over an old building and is renovating it.
A good example of the tussle between hardware and software in technology lies in the domain of the cell phone. Urban planners are trained to think that buildings can kickstart creativity. But what about cell phones? Take China as the example, where there are around 500 million cell phones. In my view cell phones are to the twenty-first century what the cinema screen was to the last century - the source of cheap urban entertainment. In the early twentieth century in the US, there was a large urban population without sufficient urban entertainment available. Hollywood arose to meet that demand. In China at present there are large and increasing urban populations with an appetite for entertainment - especially on the cell phone. Text messaging, music videos, dating agencies, online games - all these are just some of the forms of digital entertainment available on the cell phone - a kind of technology that is in effect only twenty years old. What everyone says about cell phones, of course, is that they are interactive; and this is true. But it is equally true that the phones offer a mobile experience - not fixed, not complete, provisional, not permanent - an experience that can take place anywhere and everywhere. Go to a cinema or a theatre or a museum and you have to arrive and watch something already complete, in which you cannot intervene. The cell phone experience is not like this. Nor, and this is very important, does the cell phone leave the kind of marks on the earth left by traditional manufacturing industry - cell phones can even be recycled.
Cell phones are a sign, then, of the move globally, and especially in China, from a manufacturing economy to a knowledge-based economy. To phrase it in terms of headlines from «Made in China» to «Created in China»; from «China Cheap» to «China Chic».
The modern cities of the earth largely owe their present shape and form to the consequences of the industrial revolution. Manufacturing came into being with the industrial revolution and its way of working was to master the earth and make it do our bidding. Nature, in the sense of the physical world beyond the control of human beings, was relegated to the countryside in an industrialised society. China, too, has lived through this industrial mindset. But there is another and more traditional Chinese understanding of nature - that we should collaborate with rather than control nature. When I talk to a Chinese environmental friend of mine, she tells me, in order to illustrate the Chinese understanding of nature, that there is a village in northern China where a tree is planted when a person is born, and when that person dies the tree is cut down and the person is buried in the wood of the tree and another tree is planted. This is both a traditional way of life but it also feels like it offers an image of a sustainable future.
The new technology - or digital technology - offers a modern version of this collaboration with nature rather than mastery of it. Unlike heavy manufacturing industry it does not consume the earth's resources but makes its goods through the development of IP. That is why some people are beginning to call digital technology «green media». It does even not consume resources of the earth in the same way that earlier media did (even though there are of course still environmental issues with digital technology).
Digital technology offers us not only a vision of the post industrial city but also how it might be realised in daily life. This is not the industrial city of isolated and alienated individuals but a city or urbanised landscape of connected and networked individuals, networked not only locally but also globally. This is not the industrial city of heavy industry and of the human world's attempt to master nature, but an urbanised landscape where we are always interacting with each other, respectful of the need to collaborate with nature. It is a world which has moved from a manufacturing to a creative economy. This is why digital or green technology is important. It is the responsibility of all of us to help digital technology to realise its and our own potential.
Shanghai, Urbanized Landscape
As demonstrated by the rapid growth of high-rise buildings and changing cityscape, is is obvious that Shanghai is dramatically expanding in scale. Like a big vortex, the city continues to attract enormous amounts of energy - people, things, and information, from China and the rest of the world. It is no wonder that Shanghai is one of the leading cities of the 21st Century, given the innovative character of the city and its people throughout history. It could be said that Shanghai maintains its own identity by opening itself up to other cultures. The urbanization of the city has been accompanied by a flood of information, represented by consumer culture and global finance. It has brought enormous changes in the cityscape. This «Urbanized Landscape» is evident firstly in the visible aspects such as the building and traffic infrastructures - but it also exists at a micro-level, in people's everyday lives. Urbanization has an effect on various elements in the street or public spaces - people, products and services - and extends to the digital-based infrastructure such as in the data-space and network realized by computer and telecommunication technology.
The city is not anymore represented only physically, but also by a vast network of information. The rapid diffusion of mobile devices has expanded the notion of «city» into the mobile area covered by telecommunication networks. Furthermore, the city or urban area could be defined not in the networks, but in the connected status of people and information with various devices and systems. The «Urbanized Landscape» is an ever-changing dynamic process in which people and different elements are combined and networked in various ways. We are connected-entities and the world is redefined according to the flow of information. The notion of the «self» developed in modern European thought - based on the separation between «I» and «the other» - cannot be applied easily, and we feel ourselves something in between the objective and subjective. We cannot locate ourselves as external observers anymore but as a part of the world, influencing and being influenced continuously.
«Being connected» or «potential to be connected at any time» transforms our perception and behavior in relation to the information environment. It means that a person can locate his/her identity and memory in relation to network. It could be said that this has seen the birth of the «connected-self», growing and being updated with unlimited number of people online. These arrangements where machine and humans interconnect form the basis of how we perceive the world.
«Urbanized Landscape» is everywhere... in our daily lives, and is something we have internalized, and are aware of mentally and physically. Especially in Shanghai, the speed of «urbanization» is so fast that people must face it consciously, and not feel dominated by it. For Shanghai and its inhabitants, «Urbanised Landscape» is the most urgent and relevant issue to deal with.
This year's theme of Shanghai eArts Festival «Urbanized Landscape» is timely, because the festival is keen to incorporate and reflect the current social, cultural, technological and environmental situations in the city. The Festival also aims to make the city a creative hub for its people, and new media art plays an important role in this, bringing together art and urban life.
Creating Media Culture
Since 2000, new media art has made it possible for artists, programmers and other creators to actively collaborate by crossing genres and disciplines. Each project allows new forms, and new roles to develop. By creatively combining the existing media or producing new media, tools and systems, the projects take various forms - online, installations, live performances and in public spaces. These projects allow collaboration in the production process, but also allow public participation, by providing a system or platform for interaction. By inviting members of the public, the projects would positively accept accidents as the process of interaction and communication for the new «emergence». I call this kind of creation «Open Creation» both in production, participation - realized by both online and physical space or by connecting them - in the «public sphere».
This method of creation appeared in the age of digital network, and was triggered by the Open Source movement in later 1990s , represented by Linux OS. This model has clearly shown the emergence of networked knowledge, or self-organization of information by the online community.
In recent years, many online systems such as blogs, and Wiki have encouraged online interaction and information sharing, and generated an open and dynamic, knowledge space in daily base. In the creative scene, there are many «physical computing» or DIY communities worldwide beyond analogue and digital. In such activities, knowledge is shared and exchanged broadly, any users are invited to be a producer or artists.
When we get back to the notion of «Urbanized Landscape», this situation reflects the diverse, flexible urban landscape with people, encouraging them to autonomously act and create. It will allow people to rediscover the daily world and interact with it.
At the same time, this breaking down of boundaries between the creators and users makes us reconsider the role of artists. Will the raison d'etre of artists be less important than before, by being invaded by an increasing number of creators....? I would say that there are roles specific to artists: artists have a special stance in how they view society, by standing back at a distance from it, and conceiving new visions, through art works and projects. Looking at the world with meta-layers, making the invisible visible, opening the potential of public by critical intuition and imagination will remain the key role of artists. In the «Urbanized Landscape», artists would creatively deal with the issues on the urbanized situations, because their idea and concepts are so strongly related to them.
EArts to Open New Media Culture
I belive that the Shanghai eArts Festival takes a significant role in cultivating and nurturing the emerging new media culture, with increased public involvement, and based on the current information environment. The future of culture means the future of the city, with people living, and acting there. eArts Festival activates a creative synergy in thought and perception breaking up the existing conventions.
Not only introducing the new expressions both globally and locally, eArts will be a place for stimulating artist's imagination, and encouraging the broader public to share and generate new information and experiences. This would activate one's imagination to the other, reorganize the relations, where the «Urbanized Landscape» would appear both physically and in the imagination, to generate people's shared memories. In the age of increasing «Open Creation». I am sure that eArts Festival will help us to move towards the 21st Century New Media culture, for and with the public.