It’s a well-known truism that the internet in China is lousy. But business has to be done and file transfers have to be made. New media artists in particular, who can work with large complex files, would be at a loss if they relied on Western sites like YouSendIt (blocked), DropBox (blocked) and even Skype (routed through servers outside China). Any file over 50 MB can literally take hours to download from the web, if not longer. What’s a file-heavy new media artist or denizen to do? Enter Tencent QQ, China’s top instant messaging system.
It’s just a typical day at Xindanwei (新单位), a coworking space with a name that means “New Work Unit” in Chinese. Downstairs, Patrick Jost of vvvv.org is giving a talk … On the second floor, the EF Life Club are leading a workshop on self actualization through art, … On the roof is a meeting of marketing gurus enjoying the summer air. And in between can be found mini-meetings in corners, in hallways, on the stairs. Founded by Liu Yan, Aaajiao (aka Xu Wenkai) and Chen Xu in 2009 as a coworking space, Xindanwei has quickly become the center of Shanghai’s burgeoning technology and art community.
Remember Oakley M-Frame sunglasses? They’re supposed to look like the future, with gradient lenses in a variety of neon colors and knotted frames that bear a resemblance to tensed muscle and ligaments. What they actually look like is a future imagined from the 1980s, in which some mixture of cyberpunk fashion, steroidal athlete aesthetic and Gatorade-style visual punch is totally au courant. New media prankster Cory Arcangel has turned these glasses into monuments, casting them in bronze and immortalizing them in a series of readymades called “Sports Products” (2011). Are you ready for 80s nostalgia? You better be, because it’s ready for you.
Tomorrow marks the opening of Cory Arcangel: Pro Tools, a full floor of new and recent work by the artist at the Whitney Museum. Lucky you, you get to see it a day early! I previewed the exhibition and came back with a photo essay featuring bowling video games, photoshop gradients, bad golfers and epic sunglasses.