University of Edinburgh, Year 2 PHD Candidate in History of Art
Technological Body in Becoming : Body representation in contemporary Chinese new media art
Over the past few decades, the advancement of various new technologies has reshaped contemporary Chinese art. From the first video artwork created by Zhang Peili in 1988, contemporary Chinese art engaging with new technologies, such as 3D printing and head-tracking tech, provides variant ways of our interaction with new sciences, technologies, and other forms of matter, yet has been underappreciated. What is the signification of technologies applied in contemporary Chinese art? How technologies effect on the development of contemporary Chinese art? How technologies reshape the relationship between artists and their social conditions?
To answer these questions, the paper will focus on analysing artwork created by Zhang Peili since the 1980s. It will investigate the different methods in which contemporary Chinese artists have deployed new technologies of body representation. It will argue that Zhang produces a wider social spectrum to deconstruct the society by communicating with newly-emergent technologies that bridge video, installation and performance. I will point out how Chinese new media artists develop artistic approaches of digital technologies to explore new possibilities of presenting artists’ individual subjectivities in reaction to the social landscapes where dramatic changes are occurring.
In a transcultural perspective, the paper will connect Merleau-Ponty’s idea of the body within phenomenology of perception with Guanzi’s Daoist conception of the body. I will show how Chinese contemporary artists communicate with technology and the strategies it re-constructs our bodies.