New Media Artist Aaajiao Talks to Us About His Creative Process

By Bryan Grogan, August 22, 2019

0 0

For the Record is a regular series where we ask local tastemakers about a cultural niche. This month we spoke to Shanghai- and Berlin-based new media artist Aaajiao about documenting the internet age. 

In this age of digital communication, questions about our use and growing dependence on technology have become more and more prevalent. In China especially, mobile phones have become extensions of our bodies, acting as permanent attachments of our hands, a magic screen through which we can access the rest of the world. 

Shanghai and Berlin-based artist Aaajiao, or Xu Wenkai, is one of China’s best-known new media artists. He explores the ways in which we use new technologies to communicate with one another in everyday life. His recent exhibition, Bot, investigated digital communication and the appearance and perception of ourselves as users within a digital world. 

Aaajiao currently has works on show in two separate group exhibitions in Shanghai - Nine Journeys Through Time in Yuz Museum and Open Codes in Chronus Art Center. His works have been known to make use of inflatable structures to represent ourselves as ‘bots,’ while he also uses coded simulations to represent the significance, or lack thereof, of communication on the internet.  

In our latest installment of For the Record, Aaajiao speaks on how the internet and digital technology inform the way we communicate with one another. 

Aaajiao-.jpg
Image courtesy of Yuz Museum

“I spend a lot of time using my mobile phone, somewhere between six and seven hours a day, my mobile phone has become my compound eye.

“We seem to like to treat people’s behavior on the internet as something in and of itself. The internet is, in fact, a new stage of human communication. Communication is not a new thing.

“I have always questioned empathy, especially through visual art, especially in the moment. Many of my works just act as the background of the audience’s self-portrait, a reflection of themselves.

“In my exhibition ‘Bot,’ the bot in question examines the functions and quirks of our fragmented attention to our memories after we have become users on the internet.

“In that sense, a self-timer is the easiest way to see yourself. There are countless yourselves on your phone. In that case, are you not a bot?

“It seems to me that human civilization has always existed in some form of crisis, and because we live in the present tense, we feel it all the time.

“When I take a step backwards and see myself in the form of a bot, it feels very similar to the way we look at Chinese traditional gardens. Therefore, I use a transparent inflatable object to represent this outer body feeling.”


You can catch Aaajiao’s work at: 

Open Codes: Until Oct 7, Chronus Art Center.
Nine Journeys Through Time: Until Oct 10, Yuz Museum.

[Cover image courtesy of artist]

more news

teamLab to Open Massive New Museum in Shanghai This Fall

The museum – which merges art and technology – will be located in Huangpu district and will be the Japanese collective's largest museum.

6 Shanghai Art Exhibitions & 2 Events to Check Out This Weekend

A huge photo fair, an anniversary, a Turner prize winner and much more.

Canadian Indie Pop Star Allie X Is Headed to Shanghai

Allie X is slated to perform in China for the first time ever on December 1.

Tickets Now On Sale to See Carly Rae Jepsen In Beijing and Shanghai

We really, really, really, really, really, really like Carly Rae Jepsen.

The 10 Best Nightlife Events in Shanghai This Weekend

Nightclubbing, we're nightclubbing, we're what's happening!

Shanghai Rolex Masters Tickets on Sale Now

Don't miss out on one of the biggest tennis events on the calendar!

The 7 Best Live Shows in Shanghai This Week

I'll tell you want, what I really really want, yeah, tell me what you want, what you really really want! I wanna, I wanna, I wanna see Sporty Spice live in concert.

0 User Comments

In Case You Missed It…

We're on WeChat!

Scan our QR Code at right or follow us at Thats_Shanghai for events, guides, giveaways and much more!

7 Days in Shanghai With thatsmags.com

Weekly updates to your email inbox every Wednesday

Subscribe

Download previous issues

Never miss an issue of That's Shanghai!

Visit the archives

Get the App. Your essential China city companion.