Wednesday, October 29, 2008

eArts: turning over a new leaf?

I went to the eArts festival in Xujiahui on a cool October evening. As I briskly strolled through the park, the lights beckoned me forward. I saw a large screen with brightly displayed colors and a DJ parked on the side of the stage. The white seats immediately surrounding the area were quickly getting filled and the eArts worker turned my classmates and I away due to our lack of VIP tickets. Luckily, Prof was there and she led us in as the show was about to begin.

The screen itself looked like something out of a video game, so the idea of audience interaction was not far from my head and was only confirmed as workers gave out slips of papers with numbers on them. The show began with a vibrant multitude of colors splashing across the screen. A notably silver colored nude young woman floated around the 3 screens, iphone in hand. Roses and tubes spewed out onto the screens as well as seemingly arbitrary online emoticons and swirls. The numbers started being called as one by one each person presses a button which in turn takes a screenshot of the three screens. In the end, all 40 pictures are combined, creating a piece of work in which the audience played a key role-- they became the artist!

This audience involvement was something that I had never experienced before, and one that I learned is growing in Shanghai today. When we visited M50 Prof. pointed out a screen on a brick wall that displayed a slide show of photographs that the public turned in themselves. While the government were pondering over whether to show this artwork or not, in the end they decided to let it go. This is a major step in freeing up censorship in the sense that the public was allowed to showcase their own pieces of art! I believe that the increase in public interaction and decrease in censorship have a distinct correlation. As involvement is increasing, the public has found a new outlet for their opinions, feelings, and emotions through artwork. Government has aided in that by allowing these manifestations to occur with little or no censorship. It gives me the feeling, and burst of confidence, that even a person with close to none creativity bone in her body can be a contribute to a piece of art. It is a two pronged situation in that it also in essence spreads art out to the public, which is something that the government is aiming to do. Thus, they are pushing art out to the masses through allowing public involvement by which they must decrease censorship to some lesser degree. Oh what an interesting web this creates...

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