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Conversation with Chen Xiaowen, Li Zhenhua, and Bi Xin

Accessibility to Media and Technology: 30 Years of Digital Art Curation in China

Li Ruixuan (Rui):  How did each of you enter the field of digital media art curation? As curators from different generations, what are the unique challenges that you face in terms of environments, contexts, themes, and formats of the curatorial practice?

Chen Xiaowen (Chen): I was first introduced to digital media art between 1996 and 1998. In 1996, I joined fellow faculty members at Alfred University to create and teach digital media art. My colleagues were creating electronic art using analog signals, and it wasn't until 1996 that they started working with computers.

In the 1990s, digital media art was considered a relatively new profession in the United States. Zhu Zhu, the Director of the Foreign Affairs Office of the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), proposed introducing digital media education to CAFA. Then, in 2001, I organized the first-ever digital media art education workshop at CAFA. The workshop was a joint international collaboration between China and foreign countries. Subsequently, CAFA developed a digital media art education program, which the Ministry of Education officially approved in 2003. A week after the workshop started, the artist Zhang Peili came over to exchange ideas with everyone. At that time, he was leading the development of the digital media art program at the China Academy of Art (CAA). As a result, it can be said that CAFA and CAA developed this professional field almost simultaneously.

In 2001, Qiu Zhijie, along with several faculty members who were teaching at CAA and their students, organized the exhibition Mantic Ecstasy, Digital Image, and Video Art. As far as I can remember, it was one of the very first exhibitions of digital media art in China. The exhibition was obviously not formal, and there was no curator; it was just a group of young artists working together, and the exhibition budget was also pooled together. This is mainly in line with the early Chinese curatorial approach, in which artists were also curators, and we all worked together. Nowadays, such forms are less common, yet I actually think there should be more diversity regarding the curatorial formats. I genuinely hope young people can gather more often to form a dynamic ecology in the art scene.

The exhibition catalogue of Mantic Ecstasy. Photograph by Chen Xiaowen.

In 2002, I organized a seminar on the intersection of digital and traditional media art, to which Song Dong, Gao Minglu, Fei Dawei, and Zhang Peili were invited. From Fei, I learned that Chinese artists in Paris were making interactive films, which I was very excited about because I was also trying to make my first interactive film work at that time. In the following years, I came to CAFA to teach a course on interactive film. In short, my experience involves the overlapping of Chinese and American experiences and their influences on each other.

Li Zhenhua (Li): I started to focus on media art in 1999 when I was at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) in the UK and was introduced to many artists and projects using digital as the medium. I also worked a lot with Qiu Zhijie, Wu Meichun, and many other artists earlier and produced a lot of playful exhibitions, including some practices under the Post-Sense Sensibilities series of exhibitions. These experiences inspired my interests not only in new media and digital art but also in broader practices.

I would like to add one more path as the teaching of experimental art to echo the path of teaching new media art that Mr. Chen just outlined.

In the early 21st century, we began to discuss what "experimental art" is - is it a "test" or an "experiment"? That is to say, experimental art, similar to new media art, emerged from the work of many artists in the late 1990s. At that time, artist Liu Wei was creating small drafts of paintings using very basic computers, and when I recently learned from Cui Cancan about the use of "computer graphic aesthetics" in the work of post-90s artists, I was reminded that there were artists who were doing this a long time ago.

Besides, in the British context, Live Art,1 a concept developed between 2000 and 2004, was one of the elements that Qiu and I focused on in our work in 1999. In fact, we did not limit these art forms to new media art, as these practices probably encompass the beginnings of all the important experimental art turns that have taken place since 1999.

Before digital art, there was video art. By around 2000, we started to have the so-called discussion about “Digital Art.” From then on, Qiu Zhijie, myself, and Wu Meichun began to work on the Loft New Media Art Festival. It was actually a very small project, but what was interesting to me was that it involved some of the new media art forms that were quite popular at the time, such as CD-ROM Art, which was a way to put the CD-ROMs in the computer and then interact with it by selecting options in the menu. It’s so much fun to think about that now.

When it comes to interactive art, I particularly admire the piece The West (1999) by Qiu Zhijie. He uses a rather simple software, PowerPoint, to make interactions. It is embedded with sound and video and many concepts about the East and West. Even now, I still think it is a superb work in the field of new media.

Feng Mengbo started using Mac computers to create works in 1994,2, 3 when most people still used PCs. In addition, Hu Jieming was already talking about interaction and surveillance relating to digital devices in the mid-1990s.3 He used a very minimal regulator to control the monitors to observe people, hallways, and so on. I think, at that time, people started to become aware of media usage on the one hand and media criticism on the other.

In 1997, Feng Mengbo and Wang Jianwei participated in documenta X, a milestone in Chinese new media art. In 2002, Australian curator Kim Machan presented MAAP In Beijing: Moist4 at the China Millennium Monument, the first year of the international new media art era. From 2004 to 2006, Zhang Ga did a series of new media art forums (Beijing International New Media Art Exhibition and Symposium). In 2002, I was the project manager and producer of “Moist," where I started to get in touch with other projects led by Jeffrey Shaw and Wang Gongxin. At that time, Kim was talking about the concept of "Moist Media," that is, looking at new media with emotion.

At that time, I had just returned to China from the UK. While part of the project “Moist,” I also worked as the art director of the Loft New Media Art Space. In parallel, I worked as the Editor-in-Chief of the art website called starV. While I was also working for the Beijing Heineken Beat Festival 2000 at Beijing Yi Ren Wen Hua. Because of my relatively diverse interests, I often have opportunities to work with people from various backgrounds. I have facilitated some work for the Barbican Center in the UK, the Japan Foundation, and the Goethe-Institut, and I have landed multiple large-scale projects before 2008. For example, in 2007, Wang Yuyang’s artwork Artificial Moon premiered in the Workers' Stadium. I commissioned this project for the 20th anniversary of the Goethe-Institut. Around 2005, I was the Project Manager of “Beautiful New World - Contemporary Visual Culture From Japan,” which was launched in several spaces in Beijing (including Long March Space, TOKYO GALLERY+BTAP, Inter Art Center) with Japanese artists such as Ryoji Ikeda, Mamoru Oshii, Yayoi Kusama, UJINO, Go WATANABE, etc. That is to say, artists in the field of new media and cross-media were basically presented thoroughly in China at that time. In 2004, I served as the exhibition director for the British contemporary independent graphic design exhibition Communicate held by the Barbican Center and assisted in organizing its touring exhibitions in four cities in China. The development logic of new media art’s history at that time was chaotic. It was not a complete history based on a specific thread, as the axes of the narratives were different.

In 2008, I joined the exhibition Synthetic Times5 as the director Zhang Ga was the Chief Curator, and Fan Di’an was the president. This was also the first International Triennial of New Media Art in China. Under Zhang Ga's leadership of "Global Scanning," we covered almost all media art forms.

After 2008, I lived and worked in Switzerland most of the time. In 2014, with the support of Gao Shiming, we held a series of seminars titled Farewell, New Media Art at CAA. The old path seemed somewhat untenable in today’s development of new media art, so I invited people like Oron Catts, ETOY, and Marc Lee from different fields, such as bio art and financialization, to discuss the emerging direction of media art. In China, artists like aaajiao, Zhou Jiangshan, and Iris Long discussed topics such as "Information Art" and "Community." During this period, we were consciously updating the path of new media art.

In addition, I wanted to reorganize the clues related to media art in the field of Swiss artists. In my work with Roman Signer, we have had seven museum exhibitions —six in China and one in Europe.6 From explosives to Super 8mm film records to current digital works, as well as the technical means used to present the works as a whole, projects like this have been aimed at studying the history of media art from the very beginning.

Around 2014, I worked as one of the Chronus Art Center (CAC) initiators. At that time, much of the work had transitioned from reflections on curation to prospects for infrastructural building, especially building a better recyclable system. Two major projects by Jeffrey Shaw and Hu Jieming served as the start and set the structure and standards of the institution.

In May 2021, I curated a grand exhibition of Liu Jiaying, COOKIE COOKIE,7 at Guardian Art Center, covering almost all crypto art domains. It was just over a month after Beeple's NFT set an auction record. The whole project was a reverse engineering exercise, with the trading activity taking place in the virtual world long ago. It was also an interesting phenomenon in the emerging media art’s side-show, where the works in the virtual world came first, and then physical objects appeared in reality.

Rui: Mr. Chen Xiaowen and Mr. Li Zhenhua have described their experience with globalization across borders and languages. Then, moving to Bi Xin, do you think that the different approaches of our generation are caused by geopolitical discussions?

Bi Xin (Bi): The institution I am working for, CAC, is positioned as an institution grounded in the international context. Our partners, exhibiting artists, and projects have very strong connections and frequent conversations with voices from other countries. However, from 2020 to 2022, we were drastically hindered. Not only exhibitions but residency programs were also impacted. The academic fellowship in 2020 was a collaboration between CAC and Duke University in Kunshan. Fortunately, that year’s recipient of the residency program happened to be the Chinese artist Guo Cheng. However, other challenges remained. In addition to the many programs being postponed, the installation of exhibitions was a very immediate concern for all. First of all, most of the exhibiting artists could not be present on the site to install their works, which severely altered our working methods. To counteract the considerable shipping cost due to the pandemic, we would produce some parts of the work locally to complete the installation. There were a few regrets throughout the process. While the focus of organizing an exhibition is primarily on the audience, the artists missed the intuitive experience of seeing their works in dialogue and connection with other works in different cultural contexts and spaces. Additionally, the institution's staff bore a heavy burden, as they found themselves in a new state where they needed to take on half of the artist's role and complete the works locally.

Regarding my own experiences, the Beijing Media Art Biennale (BMAB) was probably my first practice related to digital media art. After 2016, I came to Shanghai to join CAC, which marked a relatively complete beginning of my media art practice. From 2017 to 2019, while continuing to manage the institution's operation, my curatorial focus shifted from exhibitions to public events. This shift was particularly meaningful to me because public events provide a more complete and profound interpretation of exhibitions. We can fully explore the topic to help the audience better understand the content that the exhibition aims to convey. From 2017 until now, our research has been centered around exploring media art practices related to social, political, economic, and environmental allegories of post-human reality. These practices include several topics related to the philosophy of technology that has been widely debated in recent years, such as the Anthropocene, machine ecology, non-human/more-than-human, and other entities’ mobility. Ethical issues such as the urgency of the environment and the entangled relationships among technology, nature, and society are also included. The new thinking on materiality you two just mentioned is also a part of it. However, I believe that these topics are not entirely new; rather, our interpretation of them changes under different eras and political, economic, and social environments, giving them different meanings.


Entangled: bio/media. Photo: ZHU Lei ©Chronus Art Center

We have had clear directions for every year’s project planning in recent years. The research topics for 2020 to 2022 were net art, AI, and biomedia, respectively. Through last year's exhibition Entangled: bio/media, we aimed to discuss the concept of biomedia, a discipline that has been released from the inherent concepts of bio art. That is to say, we elevated the concept of "biology" or "life" from an art practice that processes bacteria, genes, or genetically modified materials through technological means to considering artificial intelligence, electronics, algorithms, informatics, and biological agents as necessary conditions for art creation, and exploring the techno-vitality presented by technological development today. In this way, we can expand our understanding of life and the agency of media, and the dynamic mobility of media. We also wanted to present this exhibition dynamically by dividing it into four chapters. Starting last July, we opened one chapter at the end of each month and eventually formed a complete presentation last October. Therefore, the exhibition constantly grew, gradually generating dialogues with the audience through a progressive approach. In addition, we particularly emphasized Asian artists’ comprehension and interpretation of the topic of biomedia in this exhibition.

Rui: Based on your experiences, what are the critical events or exhibitions that have developed from the local Chinese value system? And what ones have been influenced by important movements in Western curatorial history?

Chen: The most impressive exhibition for me was the Beijing International New Media Art Exhibition in 2006, organized by Zhang Ga at the China Millennium Monument. I participated in this event and brought the prototype of a work I collaborated on with the research team in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) at Cornell University. I also gave a speech at the seminar.

I think there were two types of ecology in the field of either art exhibitions or festivals at that time. The artists themselves initiated the first type. I remember Song Dong telling me that he saw Wang Gongxin's Brooklyn Sky (1995) for the first time at an exhibition he and some other artists organized. At that time, everyone was very curious about this piece, and Song Dong thought it was Wang Gongxin's best work, and none of his later works could compete with it. We can see the kind of collision among artists at that time.

The second type is exhibitions that are more academic. They are often accompanied by national projects. For example, the Beijing International New Media Art Exhibition organized by Zhang Ga and Lu Xiaobo from the Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University, at the China Millennium Monument was the final presentation of a major research project at the university. The BMAB, which Bi Xin talked about earlier, was planned by the School of Design at CAFA. The exhibition was contributed to and financially supported by the school. Exhibitions that developed from the school's programs tend to emphasize academic discourse.

Therefore, when planning the BMAB, Fei Jun, Jin Jun, Song Xiewei, and I had a lot of discussions about the academic theme. In the first biennale in 2006, we positioned the theme as "ethics of technology." In the second biennale, Wang Min’an suggested considering the post-life theme. In the third biennale, when Wang Naiyi and I curated the exhibition, we were more concerned with ecology and set the theme as Synthetic Ecology,8 focusing not on particularly macro-political slogans but on something a little more subtle and specific, such as changes in living conditions.

Li: In the 1990s, when I was working, most of the curating was done spontaneously, with minimal introduction to Western systems. The Western systems people learned about through the news media were particularly fragmented. By introducing experts from various countries to systematically identify the clues of exhibition history or media art development, we were unsure if these experts were within a certain framework of global art history. Later, as I worked, I gradually discovered that each region has its own cultural characteristics. Although there is unity in technology and topics discussed during that same period, the way it is presented varies in different cultural contexts.

For example, I recently saw an adorable exhibition in South Korea by Moon & Jeon.9 One of the highlights was Boston Dynamics' robotic dog. The artists spent over a year and a half adding an external plugin to sense carbon emissions. The dog would then respond based on the amount of carbon and its interactions with people. It was an impressive display, and I was envious of the integration of intelligent hardware that could directly access the field of media art. Nowadays, it is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve this level of accessibility.

“Accessibility” has been the most discussed topic among my friends and me in recent years.

It's challenging to create highly innovative artwork without the resources of a large institution, institute, or corporation. In the early days of computing, I remember the thrill of tinkering with my own computer, which was more like a plug-and-play puzzle-solving process. But such accessibility is practically impossible today. For instance, dismantling an iPhone to put it back together is not feasible due to various concerns, such as quality protection. As technology evolves, there is often a time lag between its advancement and the artist's criticism. Artists require sufficient time to comprehend the technological tools, identify their questions about the medium, and then create and amplify their ideas. I believe that a purely technological application of creation can be classified as "pro-media," as I mentioned previously. That is, you use technology to suit the medium's circumstances.

The term "anti-media" refers to expanding the possibilities of a medium, transforming it, or even dismantling it all together to present a new way of thinking. A recent podcast episode by Liang Wendao introduced me to the work of Godard, whose films are an example of "anti-media" art. While Godard’s movies may not be considered conventionally good to watch, they offer a glimpse into the potential of filmmaking and provoke new ideas about the medium.

The main issue at hand is the construction and influence of Eastern and Western systems. Curators have long raised questions about institutional criticism, but in China's art field, there is no (art) institution, so no art institution exists to be criticized. If there is criticism, it may be extended to political (governmental) institutions, but there is absolutely no formal art institution in China. The country's art system and institutions are incomplete. Are art museums truly art museums? Are art centers genuinely fulfilling their purposes? While CAC is an exceptional art center that achieved its mission, many institutions have ambiguities regarding their operation. I also cherish what Mr. Chen mentioned, the era when everyone contributed funds and resources to art creation. It was a time of great creativity when people, regardless of status, came together for a common idea and created something, regardless of whether it could leave a mark in the art world. That was a particularly noble spirit.

It must be acknowledged that, in reality, we are all constrained by various systems, and many young artists are creating works for the market. We cannot judge them because they have to survive. They continuously put energy into the market, which helps break down the system. Therefore, I believe it is important to maintain a balance in everything. I envy artists like Jeon and Moon for accessing resources like Boston Dynamics and top Korean actors. I also envy Jordan Wolfson for his machine dynamics work, Female Figure, and Jeffrey Shaw for his abundant funding. I think proper systemic support is necessary for the expansion of art, which in turn is meaningful for the balance of the entire social and cultural ecology. I also try distinguishing between commercial and non-commercial art systems when discussing this issue. In 2013, when I was curating the inaugural exhibition of K11 Shanghai,10 I referred to a report by Michael Naimark, which has the same title, Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Money. To understand the history of art since the 1970s, we need to know what the big companies, artists, and laboratories have done. The report was published in 2004, which was the time when social media was rising; thus, I named the subtitle of the exhibition Art after the Social Media Era.

The earliest social media were not differentiated between the East and West. Chinese social media with regional characteristics emerged relatively late. Before that, globalization came all at once. Later, social media emerged in response to regulations and the rise of Tier 3 and Tier 4 cities (such as TikTok and Kuaishou), and the community relations under the cultural divergence are particularly interesting. There is a leading global trend in social media, but different community environments have their own distinct main trends and sub-trends. Issues being discussed are not always the same, but there is a similarity in their ways of compliance or opposition. However, we still need to discuss these issues within the context of local culture.

Bi: I’d like to answer this question with one of CAC’s projects, "Art and Technology @” (A&T@). Two significant cultural events inspired the project in the history of the laboratory: the early Art & Tech project at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) on the West Coast of the United States and the Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) project initiated in 1966 in New York by Bell Labs and artist Robert Rauschenberg. Both of these projects aimed to connect artists with think tanks and technology companies, providing artists with access to the latest technological innovations. With this in mind, we launched A&T@, hoping to establish a collaborative mechanism to pair artists with engineers and technology companies in China to explore new possibilities for artistic practice and criticism.

We have completed the initial stage of exploration and experimentation for A&T@. Because of the research-oriented nature of this project, each version required an extensive preparation time of over one year. In fact, it took us approximately five years to complete three versions of collaborations. We respectively collaborated with three artists, Liu Xiaodong, Yan Lei, and Yin Xiuzhen, who have had well-developed personal artistic styles using traditional media.

Through this project, we have not only destructured their familiar art languages but also altered the usual logic of their technical application. Furthermore, this project has also challenged the ability of institutions and individuals from different fields to collaborate.

As Mr. Li Zhenhua mentioned, people could previously conduct experimental practices spontaneously. While the threshold of technology is continuously rising, institutions should take the responsibility of helping artists to access these technologies and organize different entities to communicate, debate, experiment, and collaborate.

Rui: Where are the digital art communities in China? What are the current demographics of digital art exhibitions’ visitors, readers, researchers, and collectors?

Chen: We often joke that these art and technology exhibitions make for good content for influencers to share in their social media posts. But, looking on the bright side, this shows that exhibitions are more specifically designed for the general public.

In the early days, exhibitions were mostly about electronic art, which might be "inaccessible," as Mr. Li Zhenhua said, but later digital media became a more popular medium. It was embarrassing that, at first, the general public still said they couldn't understand it. But everyone has been willing to attend art and technology exhibitions in recent years. Of course, the promotion posted by the audience on social media played a particular role. In short, the age span of the audience for digital art exhibitions has become wider, and the crowd of visitors has become more diverse.

Li: I'll continue on what Mr. Chen mentioned about those exhibitions that became social media-friendly. What I did at K11 in 2013 actually turned out to be an extremely trendy exhibition on social media, with over 600,000 visitors. What caused such popularity? Did I compromise to attract a larger audience? Actually, no. This kind of gathering is directly related to urban planning and the community. This project in Shanghai K11 Mall was located right above the subway station on Huaihai Road. The choice of its location brought us back to the "accessibility" thread. Therefore, we may not have changed our working method too much. I have always insisted on curating media art with a certain artistic and experimental direction.

I recently curated the Minor Universes: Technology-led Emotions exhibition at Chengdu Art Museum.11 I predicted it would become popular on social media platforms because the museum’s surrounding environment is ideal. This prediction was based on my experience curating the exhibition Everything is Still and Timeless  for artist Su Xinping at the Suzhou Museum in 2019. The museum has at least 6,000 to 7,000 visits per day. I anticipated a similar number of daily visitors for the project in Chengdu. Based on this, I reserved enough safe space, as well as capacities of readability and accessibility for every exhibited work. I simplified the exhibition by reducing the number of works and their interactivity and included large-scale works. The significance of this reduction strategy is to leave space for stressing the exhibition's publicity.


Minor Universes: Technology-led Emotions. Photograph by Li Zhenhua.

For museums that provide free entrance to the public, they have to consider both accessibility and the contents’ academic quality. However, this does not mean that the museums need to engage in intellectual confrontations with every individual (audience). The confrontation is fascinating only when engaging with those on the same intellectual level or at least thinking along the same lines as what the museum aims to convey.

The collector community is still at its very young stage. Around 2007, a collector asked me how to play the digital Beta tapes he had collected, which in some ways, signified that we had not systematically considered the presentation of digital art collections. Another example is teamLab's blockbuster exhibition in Shenzhen. My friend invested a lot of money in this project, and he not only recouped his investment but also made a profit. Therefore, in some cases, I would consider whether art, especially media art, could be an economic activity. If so, we can also consider the community connections formed in the economic activity of media art, which is also meaningful for technology and public education.

In Liu Jiaying’s solo exhibition COOKIE COOKIE, the artist established an NFT platform, Top Bidder, for other artists to support their transactions in this unconventional market environment. New media is very inspiring, as it is involved in various fields such as research institutions, academic scholars, collectors, and exhibition organizations. How to effectively combine new media art with the social environment to make it more sustainable — I am always contemplating this, even at this moment.

Bi: The feedback from the audience that the exhibitions are “incomprehensible,” as Mr. Chen mentioned, has been our recent major concern — how to balance the serious academic nature of the exhibition with the interpretation that is friendly for the general public. Both rewriting the descriptions of works and explaining the basic concepts and terminology are potential solutions. But in the meantime, we also have to consider the weight of the visual and textual presentation of the works to avoid an overly “scientific” or documentary style in the exhibitions.

Also, we tried to assist the audience in further understanding the concepts behind exhibitions through public projects such as artist talks and book readings, etc. After 2018, we established a monthly “CAC Atelier” workshop focusing on technical hands-on experience. Each event lasts for one day and is themed on a specific technical topic, such as learning to code websites with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, creating ASCII images, doing audiovisual programming with Max/MSP/Jitter, or understanding natural language processing. They are usually taught through both theoretical explanations and practice. The workshop tends to make technologies that may sound sophisticated more interesting, and participants may find that some of the content learned in the workshop has already been in our daily use. This workshop aims to go behind the familiar and simple end devices, understand their mechanics, and explore both the creativity and potential crises that technologies can bring.

In addition, CAC has a very niche and cohesive audience group, which is students. We collaborate with many institutions and have organized communications between students from different schools.

In 2022, my award-winning curatorial project, Time After Time: The Polychronicity in Blockchain, was presented in the Hyundai MotorStudio Beijing. The exhibition explores blockchain technology’s consensus construction, energy conversion, and poeticism from the perspective of time. In addition to the regular audience of the venue, I also hoped people in the blockchain industry could come to see this exhibition and give their feedback and responses. The exhibition was intentionally designed with many interactive sessions so that the audience can understand abstract concepts in an experiential way as much as possible. Meanwhile, it was also an “unstable” exhibition, as the changing global financial environment and the dramatic fluctuations in the crypto digital currencies could impact visitors’ experiences. While such a fact is one of the things I find interesting about this medium.


Time After Time: The Polychronicity in Blockchain. Photo: Semi Semet ©Hyundai MotorStudio Beijing

Rui: How do the trending ideological views, such as feminism and environmentalism, affect the practice of digital curation?

Chen: Whether they are scholars, teachers, or students, people all have an internationalized sensitivity to these hot topics. Environmentalism, feminism, and ideas of identities are not new. Art creation has extensively discussed these themes from the 70s and 80s to post-modernism. Those long-lasting themes have acquired newfound vitality in the new era and social backgrounds. This impact may come from society. For example, in the past two years, social events have raised feminism to the forefront. This year, many of my students' papers discuss topics such as AI, cyborgs, female bodies, future maternity, etc. Feminism itself is an international topic. When implemented in the context of China, it is not merely a personal experience discussed from cultural and anthropological perspectives, but it also carries a particularly strong social experience. I think this topic is quite open in China and has not been restricted or suppressed. However, sometimes when students discuss their senior projects related to feminism, they occasionally feel a conflicting attitude of being both cautious and open from some male professors. Thus, discussion on such a topic is still in a transitional stage.


Chen Xiaowen is a tenured professor at the School of Art and Design, Alfred University, and a visiting professor of the Central Academy of Fine Arts. He has previously taught at the Rhode Island School of Design and Cornell University. His studio practice and teaching involve painting, video art, video installation, intermedia art, and the intersection of art and technology. He has held solo exhibitions at He Xiangning Art Museum, Today Art Museum, and Contemporary Art Museum of Syracuse University, New York. From 2004 to 2008, Chen participated in the "Visualization of Museum Visitors' Behavior" research project at Cornell University's HCI research team. Since 2016, he has been collaborating with Yao Yanan's team at the School of Engineering, Beijing Institute of Technology, on joint research in robot art. Since 2018, he has also been collaborating with Chen Ling's team at the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health, Chinese Academy of Sciences, on joint creation in bio-art. As a curator, Chen has participated in American Contemporary Printmaking Art Exhibition (2010), The Logic of Paper-American Works of Paper (2010), Tradition and Innovation: The Human Figure in Contemporary Chinese Art (2015), Beijing New Media Biennale (2016 and 2018), and Beijing Art and Technology Biennale (2022). He is the co-editor of the publication Contemporary Digital Art.

Li Zhenhua (b. 1975, Beijing) currently works between Zurich, Berlin, and Hong Kong. Active in contemporary art since 1996, his practice revolves around curatorial, art production and project management. He is currently the Curator of FILM at Art Basel in Hong Kong (since 2014), he was the nominator for the Summer Academy of the Paul Klee Center, Switzerland, the Prix Pictet Photo Festival, Switzerland, and was the International Consultant of the Barbican International Exhibition Digital Revolution (2014), UK.
Li Zhenhua has edited the artist’s solo publications including Yan Lei: What I Like to Do, Feng Mengbo: Journey to the West, Hu Jieming: One Hundred Years in One Minute and Yang Fudong: Dawn Mist, Separation Faith. He published his debut book Text in 2013. Li Zhenhua is the winner of the Art Power Year Award in 2015, the Art News Asian Art Contribution Award Curator of the Year Award, and the Russian Innovation Award Regional Contemporary Art Project Award for the 3rd Ural Industry Biennial of Contemporary Art in 2016. He has served as a final jury member for many Chinese and international organizations, including: Transmediale (2010), CCAA (*Now as M+ Art Museum Sigg Prize 2012), Fantoche Animation Festival (2012), AAC (2015-2016), Hyundai Blue Prize (2018), etc.

BI Xin (Milia) is a curator and researcher based in Manchester (UK). Bi’s curatorial practices work across the intersection of arts, decentralized technologies, and contemporary social culture/subculture. Her recent research focuses on multi-temporalities, manifold materiality and decentralized agency in technological culture, and the spiritual relationship between non-human entities and humans. Bi serves as the Director of International Programs at Chronus Art Center (CAC). She is the winner of the Hyundai Blue Prize Art+Tech 2022.



Adrian Heathfield, Live: Art and Performance (London: Tate Publishing, 2004).

2 Feng Mengbo, A Diary by Apple, 1994.

3 Feng Mengbo, Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy, 1994.

4 Hu Jieming, Comparative Safety, 1997.

5 MAAP In Beijing: 2022 Moist, 2002,China Millennium Monument Art Museum, https://www.maap.org.au/exhibition/maap-in-beijing-2002-moist/.

6 Roman Signer’s touring exhibitions, see https://rscs2015.com.

7 COOKIE COOKIE, 2021, Guardian Art Center, https://www.cookiecookie.org.

8 1st Beijing Art and Technology Biennale, 22 September 2022 to 31 January 31 2023, 798CUBE, https://www.e-flux.com/announcements/488542/synthetic-ecology/.

9 Seoul Weather Station, Art Sonje Center, 30 August to 22 November 2022, https://moonandjeon.com.

10 Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Money, 25 May to 28 July 2013, chi K11 art space Shanghai, https://www.k11artfoundation.org/sc/article/真实-美-自由和金钱-社群媒体兴起后的艺术.

11 This exhibition is available online. See https://www.artexb.com/pano/exb138/.



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Issue 56

Curating the Digital Expanded |

by Paul Stewart

保罗·斯图尔特(Paul Stewart)翻译:张唯一

多萝西·里希特(Dorothee Richter) 翻译:张唯一

萨宾娜·希墨尔斯巴赫(Sabine Himmelsbach) 翻译:蒋子祺

Conversation with Chen Xiaowen, Li Zhenhua, and Bi Xin

by KA Bird and Paul Stewart in Conversation with Helen Hester

KA·伯德、保罗·斯图尔特与海伦·海斯特的对话 翻译:邓家杰

Conversation with Artist Y, Yang Jing, and Zhou Jiangshan

Ruth Patir in Conversation with Joshua Simon

鲁思·帕蒂尔与约书亚·西蒙的对话 翻译:陈粤琪

新场景(New Scenario) 翻译:陈粤琪

多萝西·里希特(Dorothee Richter) 翻译:张唯一