2017 Art Recap: .zip @ Today Art Museum


This week’s photo theme is 2017 in Contemporary Chinese Art: a look back at exhibitions that stood out to us this year, for one reason or another.

Smartphones are everywhere in China, so ubiquitous in fact that they have fundamentally transformed everyday actions like buying groceries and transportation. So perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that one of my standout art experiences of the year was a show focused on technology and sponsored by smartphone maker Xiaomi: .zip at Today Art Museum in Beijing.

.zip’s visual component was memorable in an unsettling way, especially the martial array of mounted phones above, which to my (Western-biased) eyes looked like a direct callout of the connection between consumerism and mass surveillance that’s baked in our collective decision to conduct more and more of our lives on these things.

.zip was also memorable for its audio component, a two-month series of live performances curated by Fujian multimedia artist and experimental musician Hong Qile.

I caught the closing show, and was very happy to see a live performance by veteran sound artist Wang Changcun — a fitting choice, since Wang started his career in the ’90s by hacking together compositions out of Sega Genesis games, and graduated later to using such inputs as Google Chrome javascript files and custom software patches.

In 2017, Wang Changcun co-founded a label called play rec, and released his latest album thereon. Stream it here:

Josh Feola
Josh Feola is a US-based writer and musician, and RADII's former Culture Editor. His coverage of Chinese music and art has appeared in The Wire, Dazed, MIT Technology Review, Artsy, Bandcamp Daily and more. He's been active in China's underground music scene since 2010 via his booking platform pangbianr.com, and is a former member of Beijing bands Chui Wan, SUBS, and Vagus Nerve.

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