by Ernie Diaz
Uh, we’re not ones to play the math whiz, but Thirty Years of Chinese Contemporary Art – Moving Image in China (1988-2011), is somewhat misnamed. It’s been thirty-three years, actually, since video art reared its unappreciated head in China’s contemporary milieu. Perhaps that three and three make six, the yin number, thus draining yang vigor from this auspicious event….
No matter. Because no one’s thought of installing a video screen to endlessly loop a video art work, the form gets far less attention than painting and sculpture. Ironic, as our realities are forged moment-to-moment on a two-dimensional screen. Really, unless you’re actively engaged in monitoring what the TV is doing to your mindscape, you’re part of the digital matrix, a ghost in the machine.
No one understood this better than Marshall McLuhan, since dishonored by a generation that grew up bathed in the glow of cathode rays. “The medium is the message,” was his shibboleth. Consider: the content of the newscast about the riot colors your reality far less than the fact that you’re watching it with the family over dinner, just after your son has symbolically murdered a thousand Xbox bad guys. We are distracted by the content like guard dogs with a steak, while the burglars rummage through our collective subconscious.
So there is nothing necessarily entertaining about the videography of Moving Image in China, but it presents a challenge to the engaged viewer as painting long ago lost its power to do. We’ve picked some of our favorite McLuhanisms to accompany the images for synergistic effect.
“The future of the book is the blurb.”
“The price of eternal vigilance is indifference.”
“Today each of us lives several hundred years in a decade.”
“At the speed of light, policies and political parties yield place to charismatic images.”
“Politics offers yesterday’s answers to today’s questions.”
“The answers are always inside the problem, not outside.”
“Only puny secrets need protection. Big discoveries are protected by public incredulity.”
“The nature of people demands that most of them be engaged in the most frivolous possible activities—like making money.”
“News, far more than art, is artifact.”
Date: Sep 09,2011 – Nov 27,2011
Venue: Minsheng Art Museum