Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Additional Posts by Wesley Auyeung

May 1, 2009

Grassroots Performance

The performance we saw at the Grassroots theater was amazing. I really enjoyed all the different characters that we saw at the performance. I found myself empathizing with many of the characters we saw, and I could relate the characters I could not emphathize with to many of the things I saw in Shanghai.

 One of my favorite characters in the performance was the old man with the red bandana. I did not find out until after the performance that that red band was something that was given to students that performed well academically. Even so, I thought it was interesting how this old man still seemed like such a child despite his scholarly achievement and his age. In a way he reminded me a lot of my own grandfather. Even though my grandfather is not really childish, many of his mannerisms and habits match that of the character in the performance.

The beggar in the beginning reminded me of many of the beggars that I see in the streets of China. It was interesting to see her transformation from a beggar to a mother. At least, I thought that her performance at the end signified that she became a mother. Either way, I thought it was a very interesting twist. I had seen beggars in the streets before, and many of them use their children to manipulate foreigners' feelings to get foreigners to give them money and food.

May 14, 2009


Jin Xing – Chinese Ballet

Today we had a guest speaker named Alison Friedman, who was very knowledgeable in the field of ballet, especially in China. We also were able to watch a video about Jin Xing, one of China's most famous ballet performers. Her story was very interesting because she came at a time when China was even more conservative than it is today.

Jin Xing started her dancing career in the People's Liberation Army. She gained high recognition as a dancer in the PLA. After leaving the PLA, she went to New York to build up her career. Even though she was widely known in China as a great, if not the best, dancer, she was virtually a nobody in America. At this point, she had already started cross dressing, but she did not have her sexual reassignment surgery yet.

After she gained more fame in the West, she returned to China and had her sex reassignment surgery. Unfortunately, her left leg was left paralyzed for some time after her surgery, but she gained mobility back. She now teaches in Shanghai and is happily married with three children.

I found Jin Xing's story to be very interesting, especially since she was one of the first few transgender women to be recognized by the Chinese government. I feel that she has opened up many doors for transgender people in China in addition to creating awesome spectacles in dance in both China and the U.S.

May 21, 2009

Contemporary Mediums

Today in class, we learned about Chen Zhen and watched a video of various performances from artists such as aaaJiao. I found the lesson on Chen Zhen very enlightening. His idea of the world as a "bank" of ideas from which artists can deposit and withdraw from was very interesting. In addition, much of his art deals with breaking down traditional Chinese characters to find smaller meanings inside them to make up a bigger meaning of the entire character. I found Chen Zhen's art and ideas very interesting. Even though many of the ideas that Chen Zhen had were similar to some ideas I've had before, I still found his method of using them in his art to be unique. Many of his works convey the idea of him being a global citizen, and he has never been accused of playing the "China card". Ironically, I still believe many of his pieces are deeply rooted in Chinese culture, but it just is not as obvious with him as it is with other contemporary Chinese artists.


May 29, 2009

 Blackboard and other exhibits

 was able to visit various exhibits today. The blackboard exhibition was interesting, but I feel that some of the artists defeated the point of the blackboard exhibition. One of the first exhibits in the blackboard exhibition was an artist who had painted his blackboard completely white, and all I could think was "really?", but other than that, many of the pieces were very interesting. I especially liked the pieces where the artist had plants coming out of the board. Personally, I love texture in art, and I thought this was so cool.

I also got to visit the Shanghai Gallery of Art on the Bund today and that was pretty awesome. One piece really stuck out to me here, which was called New Machine by Liang Wei. The piece consisted of two giant adjacent canvases with a simple sketch of a really complicated machine on it. Careful observation of the piece made me notice that there were some imperfections on the piece that led me to think whether or not these imperfections were intentional or just laziness on the artist's part. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and figured that they were intentional. With or without the imperfections and blemishes, the meaning of the piece was pretty clear to me. I felt that the piece was a sketch of Shanghai and its physical development as a city for the past decade or so. The "new machine" was actually the "new shanghai". The relationship between Shanghai and machines is that Shanghai functions much like a machine. It doesn't need rest, it is almost constantly working, and people are always trying to upgrade it, ultimately making Shanghai bigger and better than it was yesterday.

 May 31, 2009

 Interview with Ben Houge

 I met up with Ben Houge today at Abbey Road near the Bund today. It was a pretty awesome interview, and I feel a little guilty calling it an interview since it was more like a conversation. I found out Ben used to work for Sierra, which makes a game called Counter-strike that I used to play religiously back in middle school. I also found out that Ben was a musical composition major in college and had some experience with digital audio but not an extensive background in it. Now, he is mainly a video game music composer with his own little projects on the side. Actually, he is on a break right now to do his own thing, so I'm pretty excited to see what he's coming up with in the near future.

During his interview, he talked about one of his pieces called Kaleidoscope which was featured in Beijing. This piece basically made a kaleidoscope out of both images and sound by positioning cameras and microphones outside of a hexagonal room with filters on both. The images and sounds were projected and played on walls in the hexagonal room to create a kaleidoscope effect. In addition, the filters on the cameras and microphones were fixed in such a way that it created an interesting blend of visuals and audio inside the hexagonal room. There is a more in-depth description of this exhibit in my paper, so I will not go into it too much here.

 I thought his piece was awesome, and I really wanted to see it, but I could not find it on his blog unfortunately. Either way, I had a great time interviewing him, and I learned a lot about digital audio and the video game industry as a whole through my interview. I really want to keep up with Ben through the internet, so hopefully I'll be able to keep up with his blog in the future.

 I really feel like I experienced a lot through the Chinese Contemporary Art Course in Shanghai. I came into the class with a pretty close-minded view of contemporary art in China, but now I feel like I am open to a lot more. I enjoyed going to many of the art exhibits we visited, and I feel cultured now that I have visited them. I probably won't have another chance to visit Shanghai in a long time, so all I can do now is keep up with the Shanghai art scene via the internet.


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