Sunday, September 24, 2006

Hyper Design: Awareness of the Mind

The Shanghai Biennale is my first experience visiting an art exhibition, which is ingeniously named Hyper Design in Shanghai. As a modern city that has shown to the world the rapid growth of the Chinese economy and social infrastructure, Shanghai is a city that incorporates Western modernity, witnessed in the rapidly expanding consumer culture and the towering skyscrapers of glass and steel. Transcending modernity and the culture of global market force, Chinese heritage roots deeply in every individual, from filial piety to the adherence of tradition and culture. Shanghai itself is a strong justification of hyper design, as Curator Zhang Qing would say, “sheji refers to something planned or intended in the Chinese context.” The “sheji” of Shanghai is a clear indication that China has meticulously planned and directed development in Shanghai to create the image of inspiration and awe. The 2006 Shanghai Biennale is a perfect compliment of Shanghai in the aesthetic perspective and field. Through the talent and creativity of the curatorial team, the composition and “sheji” of the Shanghai Biennale Hyper Design 2006 incorporates the artistic ingenuity of many artists from across China and the world. The combination of aesthetic visionaries amplifies their individuality in a modern world that also reflects the globalization and unity of the world. Shanghai Biennale is truly a hyper design—an ascension and empowerment of human intellect.

The first pieces to attract my attention are the works titled “A Brand New Game” by Chan Yau Kin of Hong Kong. At first glance, from less than an arm’s length away, the material Chan uses to create his works were the collected brands of consumed articles of the two rivaling corporations: Coca Cola and Pepsi. Looking at each individual label, I get the feeling that individual demands and mass production formulate the society that we exist in. As there is both Coca Cola and Pepsi, it is shown through the individual logos that people all have their own individual preferences and will not all submit to the same demand and supply. It is this individualism and choice that fuels contemporary global market and society. Seeing all these labels from up close gives the viewer the perspective that our world is now gradually uniting together through the progress and creation of corporations that manufacture and develop items that strive to improve human living standards and satisfaction.

At first, though amazed by the creativity, devotion, and effort Chan committed to his artwork, my mind did not comprehend the deeper theme and intentions of the artist. Compared to the Biennale theme and backdrop of many aesthetically and intellectually inspiring works that illustrate our world by perplexing the mind and elevating it beyond basic comprehension—the essence of Hyper Design—I could not grasp the motif of the artworks. However, as I stepped back and observed Chan’s pieces from a distance, amazement and admiration flushed through my entire body. Facing me, instead of a congregation and combination of thousands of individual labels, are two giant logos that are all too familiar to my eyes. On the one side, there’s “Coke: Dare for more,” and on the other side, “Pepsi: It’s the real thing.” Comparing the two pieces, I could sense the contrast and compliment these two pieces create and the heavy impact and implication they construct. Through the difference in perception and optical illusion, Chan creates two vastly contrasting visual images in each piece: one of the individualistic microcosm and one of the unified and generalized macrocosm. In his artwork, Chan focuses on the business world as it presents very many representations and reflections of generalized social actions and patterns. By comparing the two large logos, we see that they are collages of their rival’s logos. This shows not only that each brand name attempts to establish itself in the world with a unique identity, they nevertheless shares many similarities and objectives.

Curator Zhang Qing’s words resonated in my mind, as he said that sheji “manifests human desires, as well as intellect and spirituality….It is noteworthy that design has brought about self-realization and self-restraint.” Reflecting upon Zhang Qing’s words, I believe that through aesthetics, Chan accurately portrays contemporary commercialism as having met the interests of individuals through manifestation in the production of a variety of consumer products—soft drinks—and by comparing the example of two brands that advocate their individualism and distinctive characteristics but ultimately share the same objectives and qualities.

Chan’s “A Brand New Game” exemplify the Biennale’s Hyper Design theme by presenting to his audience artwork that manifests human intellect with the intention to convey self-realization and self-restraint in a expanding world of uniformity in which individuality and competition with the intent of improvement has been lost and bringing awareness to the viewers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i like enjoying the arts.but i really do not know too much about.the things you have talked are a bit abstract.
hope you can provide some picture and explain it .