From the record to the concept - CIFF


From the record to the concept - CIFF

From the record to the concept - CIFF


By Shen Chaofang

While China is in a transition period where various astonishing materials can be found and documentary images have been flourishing, experimental film aesthetics is slowly developing and encounters setbacks every now and then. One of the reasons is that professional and experimental art has neither governmental interference or orientation nor its own collection and dissemination system. Major state official agencies' failure to comb the trend of Chinese experimental art and aesthetics also contributes to the problem.


The two large international new media exhibitions held by the National Art Museum of China since 2008 to some degree showed the new curator's ambition and his efforts to promote the development of experimental art. A new building for the museum, whose construction is in preparation, indicates that the museum is to exercise guidance and support to professional and experimental art.

From the record to the concept - CIFF

China's earliest attempts of media arts, from 1989 to 2000, constitute a combination of both record and concept. During that period of time, Zhang Peili completed a series of video single frequency works, such as 30*30 cm, Weizi N0. 3 and Xiji; Gao Shiqiang and Lu Lei, two Hangzhou Video Camp members, made videos recording East Village in Beijing in the early nineties. For example, Zhang Peili's 30*30cm is a psychological, obsessive-compulsive artwork free from any aesthetic decoration.

From the record to the concept - CIFF

Professor MIJKA from the University of Hamburg encouraged further exploration of video art by Hangzhou Video Camp after watching the eight-hour video collection and attending a series of relevant lectures in the National Art Museum. Under this concept, Qiu Zhijie completed Rewriting Orchid Pavilion One Thousand Times in 1993, only adding a piece of paperwork after rewriting. This is a typical video with conduct and recording process, which was the first time that video had come from recording in China. However, videos during this period of time emphasized only recording and concept, not yet thinking of exporting the visual and aural aesthetics of China's images to the rest of the world.

So did the video record of performance artworks by artists, such as Zhang Huan, Ma Liuming, and Rong Rong, from the East Village in Beijing around 1994. For instance, Zhang Huan's 12-square-meter work in 1994 is a record of him covered in honey letting flies crawling all over his body in the bathroom; his work in 1997 recording him heightening water level in a fishpond. This was a reproduction of videos featuring conduct and concept.

From the record to the concept - CIFF

The most important document exhibition started to pay attention to China's new media art in September, 1997, when artists Wang Jianwei and Feng Mengbo's new media artworks were on display in the Tenth Kassel Documenta. In the following year, the work of Wang Jianwei and Song Dong were on display in the Gwangju Information Biennale planned by Nam June Paik. This was the first stage of China's image, featuring the development from record to concept and further towards international achievements. This was also the first stage of China's video development.

From the record to the concept - CIFF

The clue of image record has been used to date, particularly Liu Xiaodong's series on-the-spot images, from Dong, Yimatu, and a recent series of images of Xinjiang Hetian jade, which involves sociological and reality record elements. Wu Daxin's The Great Wall Project, a concept photography artwork shot on the Great Wall using massive manpower and an accompanied video recording the plan taking place, also belongs to this category.

After his short study in a film school, Yang Fudong filmed the first experimental video clip Strange Heaven, which, from the perspective of film media, story set, making process, etc., is a complete non-narrative experimental film. After that, he made a series of experimental films Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove. With the development of media and technology, the second stage of images features excellent visual and aural technologies, classic film techniques, and film aesthetics produced with high quality in the digital age, among which, such works as my experimental film Gong Le Tu and works by Gao Shiqiang, Huang Ran, Zhou Yi, Chen Zhou, Lu Yang all export Chinese aesthetics to the rest of the world through film's visual and aural effects and the concepts of contemporary art.

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