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In so far as he isolates the function of the screen and plays with it. Man, in effect, knows how to play with the mask as that beyond which there is the gaze. The screen is here the locus of mediation.

There the projected imago comes into contact with the other side of the screen, on which is portrayed the image through which the subject is seen by others in the symbolic realm. While the gaze circumscribes the subject, the site of the screen becomes the site where the eye and the gaze meet.

Out of this sutured relation, this discourse in the field of the other, this sight in the field of vision, identity springs. Lacan makes his final turn against the realm of vision and states that this showing is connected with the desire to see, and that desire is fascination Latin: Too much fascination turns to envy invidia: Here it is the symbolic and language which will rescue the subject from the power of annihilating envy.

This next room is the site of the installation Beacon Two Versions of the Imaginary Beacon is a simple design with complex content. The video image is then projected out by projection lenses which cap the ends of the pipe. Note that in this set-up the image can be seen two ways, by looking into the pipe — though no one would actually do this — — and by looking at the projected image on the wall. The beacon spins in a circular motion, and since it is placed off-center in a rectangular room, the projected images vary in size, sometimes filling a good part of a wall, sometimes a small square.

In Beacon there is a motor, a system, and an array of electronics controlling the piece. Hill arranges the installation to allow the blips in the circuitry the slips, the elisions to show through. Even so, it sometimes seems the blips may be intentional, wired into the circuitry, and that may be, but Hill allows an even greater interruption a much greater inbreaking of the Real in Lacanian terms: The viewer is not a detached viewer here.

The viewer is part of the room, part of the installation, and this interaction creates chance elements beyond the technical apparatus of the piece. Similarly, there is no position from which to take in the entirety of the piece, no place for a singular point-of-view. As the beacon spins, projecting its light onto the walls, viewers are caught in the searching path of light, their silhouettes outlined against the wall for others to see.

And i, as an observer and participant, watched what others did in the light, realizing that i, at the same time, was being watched. When i viewed the installation, there were on average five to ten others in the room at once — so there was a necessary negotiation taking place between bodies and between bodies and the revolving light. The problem was that there were two sides to the beacon and to move out of the light meant an almost continual movement.

Hence, there were few people who ever did stand close to the pipe. There were others who — either due to an exhibitionist streak, or to a resignation that there was no escaping from the panoptic light — merely remained in their positions and allowed the light to cast their shadows on the wall.

But of course, from this bold position there was still no way to see the entirety of the installation; one had to choose which image to look at. And then there were the younger ones who would jump up into the space of the light just to be seen, or would create fun shadows of dogs or butterflies with their hands, wanting to show a part of their selves and have an other take notice. But let me leave aside the formal nature of the piece and address the content. What sounds are emanating from the speakers?

And what exactly are the images being projected onto the walls? A text is being read. Various voices in somber tones recite a text of Maurice Blanchot. Sometimes there is an image of the printed essay itself, with the camera like an eye following along the pages and lines being spoken. Sometimes there is an image of a person reading the text. Other times there is a still shot of a person as the spoken text continues, leaving the simple view of a face moving across the walls. In other words, linguistic images are a representation.

But it is the relation between presence and absence in the image which for Blanchot provides the possibilities of power and fascination.

But what is the image? When there is nothing, that is where the image finds its condition, but disappears into it. The image requires the neutrality and the effacement of the world, it wants everything to return to the indifferent depth where nothing is affirmed, it inclines towards the intimacy of what still continues to exist in the void; its truth lies there.

But this truth exceeds it; what makes it possible is the limit where it ceases. Hence its dramatic aspect, the ambiguity it evinces, and the brilliant lie with which it is reproached. The image is a two-sided coin perhaps even an effaced one , or a two-sided screen: The perception of the image exists in an in-between place, a mediated site.

The installation is an experience, a passing through ex-peri: Among these mediations there is, of course, the need for negotiating space with other bodies in a darkened room. Correlatively, the interception of light by the body leaves a dark spot scotoma ; blind spot on the wall in the midst of the image, leaving others with a fractured, incomplete view. There is also the space of the viewer existing between the two images on opposing walls. While the images originate at the same point the pipe they are cast to opposit e ends of the room.

In Lacanian terms, the body becomes the site of identity, the image and the screen, a site projected on to, and a site projecting itself. Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis , Trans. Four Fundamental Concepts All further quotes given in text. Cambridge UP, [Fr. American Heritage Dictionary , 3rd ed, Boston: Lydia Davis, Barrytown, NY: Station Hill Press, Further quotes from this essay are given in text.

For the first time in history, the media are making possible mass participation in a social and socialized productive process, the practical means of which are in the hands of the masses themselves.

Such a use of them would bring the communications media, which up to now have not deserved the name, into their own. In its present form, equipment like television or film does not serve communication but prevents it. It allows no reciprocal action between transmitter and receiver; technically speaking it reduces feedback to the lowest point compatible with the system. These words were not written in celebration of the Internet, as one might expect, but were were written about radio decades ago by German broadcaster and poet, Hans Magnus Enzensberger.

This essay is a study of the promises made for two emergent media: Three common aspects arise in a close examination of the independent popularization of radio and the Internet: After an analysis of the emergent media of radio and the Internet, and their utopian rhetoric, I want to suggest a less naive, more responsible rendition of the net and a way of describing the net that conceives of citizens as genuine producers, not consumers. But from its infancy as a laboratory experiment, through its advent on the market, radio was conceived by its creators not as a public service but as a consumer product.

David Sarnoff, the future president of National Broadcasting Company, is often given credit for being the visionary employee of the Marconi Company who first imagined popular radio. Originally the companies that manufactured radio sets were the same companies that produced broadcast programs.

As the federal government fumbled to insure standards and regulate the industry, programming was used to motivate people to consume radio sets. Writers, politicians and educators began to characterize radio as the fertile ground where the seeds of a better life would take root and mature. Radio was nothing short of magical. Perhaps radio, or something akin to radio, will one day give us mortals telepathic or occult senses! Codel finds in the emergent medium a most interesting space: This overlap, happening in the virtual space of radio, shifts the consideration of life possibilities from an everyday physical space to an ethereal, magical one.

For Codel, before radio life possibilities were confined to what could be done in the material world; after radio there are no limits.

The possibilities of the emergent radio are but virtual possibilities; they take place not in a material space, not in the space of a physical being in the physical world, but in the virtual and surrogate world provided by the emergent medium.

Radio has created a new space that has not been fully understood. Its conditions and limits are as yet so vague that radio can give rise to any utopian plan or individual desire. The feeling of fulfillment offered in the surrogate space of radio was a key element in the rhetoric of democracy and equality which evolved around the promotion of the emergent medium. The Codel-style euphoria that characterized earlier thinking on radio began to crystalize and soon led to the suggestion that buying a radio was like buying a seat in political chambers in that it promised a greater feeling of participation in a national democracy as well as a sense of access to that democracy not dependent on class status.

Rudolf Arnheim, a German psychologist of media and communications effects, wrote in that the democratizing power of radio was so complete that it made class distinctions irrelevant, and the very concept of class an anachronism:. Wireless eliminates not only the boundaries between countries but also between provinces and classes of society. It insists on the unity of national culture and makes for centralization, collectivism and standardization.

Naturally its influence can only be extended to those who have a set, but from the very first there has nowhere been any attempt to reserve wireless reception as a privilege of certain classes, as it might have happened had the invention been at the disposal of feudal states. As Arnheim describes radio as a requirement for contemporary civilized life, membership in his public begins to be defined in terms of consumption:.

Rather it is the case that wireless, like every other necessity of life from butter to a car and a country house, is accessible to anyone who can pay for it, and since the price of a wireless set and a license can be kept low, wireless, like the newspaper and the film, has immediately become the possession of everyone.

In saying all people are now a priori equal by virtue of access, Arnheim renders inappropriate any attempt to describe the economic realities that separate different classes. Here the rhetoric of the emergent medium covers up class distinctions while not erasing them.

In order to be counted, one must tune in. This will soon evolve into: In returning to David Sarnoff we again find an elaboration of this ethic of consumption. In testimony before the Federal Communications Commission, Sarnoff describes consumption not only as a sign of membership in a national culture, but as a quasi-patriotic act that feeds other American free market ideals. Before the FCC, as president of the largest producer of receiving sets in the world RCA , 12 and chairman of the board for the first and largest radio network NBC , 13 Sarnoff skirts implications of monopoly while defending competition as an abstract principle.

Because the emergent medium of radio could be conceived as a great leveler, it had a social value beyond price:. It must be appraised by the effect it has upon the daily lives of the people of America — not only the masses who constitute a listening audience numbered in the tens of millions, but the sick, the isolated, and the under-privileged, to whom radio is a boon beyond price.

The richest man cannot buy for himself what the poorest man gets free by radio. The maintenance of the quality of radio as a social tool was more important than trust-busting.

And because it is a tool that legitimates capitalist competition while feeding American myths of equality and equal opportunity in spite of class, Sarnoff could be given free reign to develop it in its current form.

The emergent medium is described as existing beyond pecuniary value because it benefits all sectors of society; therefore it should transcend any critique of monopoly capitalism. What belies the true nature of this proclaimed public space is that its ownership and management were to remain decidedly in private hands.

Apparently unaware of the implicit contradiction, a NBC informational pamphlet exclaims: Arnheim found in radio a sense of community defined in terms of use and interest, rather than proximity or economic relation.

He explains how a national unity and identity are produced out of a collapse of geographic space:. Wireless without prejudice serves everything that implies dissemination and community of feeling and works against separateness and isolation. Spatial propinquity of people — so we used to think — makes for a close bond between them, facilitates common experience, exchange of thought and mutual help.

Distance on the other hand makes for isolation and quiet, independence of thought and action. The emergent medium of radio, he says, both homogenizes and colonizes:. Radio, for Arnheim at least, is a collector of individuals into some unified conception of a society, not a purveyor of choice.

Earnestly, he declares radio a revolutionary tool on par with the invention of moveable type. For Morgan, education comes to mean a complete integration into this cultural identity:. It will give to all that common background of information, ideals, and attitudes which binds us together into a vast community of thinking people. It is giving the school a new tool to use in its daily work. No one can estimate the stimulus which will come into unfolding life as radio brings it into instant contact with the great thoughts and deeds of our time.

Morgan also finds in radio a useful kind of isolation or bracketing off individual experience which insures a fidelity to the common cultural identity. In removing the unpredictable variable of interactivity found in the public school classroom, radio codifies experiences and allows for controlled learning in isolation. Radio makes possible distance-learning from home by turning the home into a sacrosanct schoolroom:. No other agency can take the place of the home as a force for excellence and happiness.

In it are the issues of life. In a very real sense it is the soil into which the roots of human life reach for spiritual nourishment and security. Whatever radio can do to strengthen the family circle is clear gain; whatever it can do through widespread instruction, looking toward better home practices in such matters as housing, nutrition, family finance, home relationships, home avocations, contributes to a better life. Radio is the proposed antidote for the very social fragmentation it encourages.

It is a provider of stability that works toward an America of happy homes while it limits broader human interaction. Socializing or organizing outside of the highly structured and morally regulated familial unit communication that might lead to uncontrollable political union for example is thus prevented. As Morgan continues, radio becomes more than just a force that keeps a family together.

It provides a virtual example of an appropriate life: Through experience, through study, through habits of industry and reflection, and through long years of right thinking and right doing, there comes into individual life a unity and a quiet sense of power and happiness which are the highest of human achievements. We believe radio has a contribution to make here both in the school and in the home. It widens the family circle and the school circle to include the ablest teachers, the most earnest preachers, and the noblest statesman.

Here consumption rhetorically becomes a productive act. Because it is tied to values of self-discipline and industry, radio has the power to turn buying and passive listening into things more than refining and educational. For a case study I look to Buffalo, New York, where with the exception of three small independent holdouts all commercial radio stations are now owned by four large media companies.

The recent decades of FCC deregulation allowed for format changes by freeing stations from having to employ news personnel and reducing or eliminating community service broadcasting requirements.

But, because regulations preventing large-scale corporate ownership remained intact, the real homogenization of radio content did not occur until when FCC deregulation made it possible for a single company to own up to 49 percent of some radio markets.

Hearing the listening choices diminish, and noticing in particular the lack of local bands now receiving air time, the Buffalo Common Council launched an investigation of local broadcasting in The Council invited the management of local stations to a public forum to address concerns about the lack of local context and content in broadcasts and the reduced variety in program offerings.

I can assure you that at no time has any data or direct input from our listeners ever given us reason to believe that a true demand exists for more music by local artists. It is our opinion that our ratings would be damaged and our profitability impaired if we were to increase our commitment to local musicians. Meanwhile, we would encourage the local musicians coalition to strive to continually improve the quality of their work.

Only then can they hope to gain a contract with a recording company who can promote them into a position to be played on our airwaves. This letter emphasizes clearly and repeatedly that the profit motive exclusively, not any conception of community, is guiding the development of this radio station.

Regional interest is simply not a category. Marketing analysts are employed not to determine general popularity but only to define what is the most sellable or what will be the most appealing to an audience of consumers. The management of WKSE-FM has even failed to understand how, by only making available limited musical choices calculated to appeal to a targeted audience, they might help determine the musical taste and interest of local consumers.

The station plays what is popular to increase listenership and advertizing revenue, but they have not recognized that what they play influences what gets bought and what is popular. Local music is not the only avenue presented for the expression of community. Talk radio has received much popular press for facilitating democracy. But this democracy is wholly inflected by a profit motive as well. Arbitron ratings for the Buffalo market Autumn, show that a single and delineable demographic constitutes the audience for all the top talk shows.

The fight to attract this demographic between every daytime talk show has eliminated content difference and reduced what might have been an exchange of ideas to a repetition of the single ideology of the target demographic. In Buffalo the hosts of all the daytime shows on all the top rated talk stations are exclusively right of center, libertarian, and populists Rush Limbaugh, G. Gordon Liddy, or locally-based equivalents. For an active demonstration of the counter-democratic operation of these programs we need only examine the way the callers are handled: All calls are carefully screened to prevent airing anything that might shock listeners into turning off their radios.

The utopian rhetoric that surrounded the emergent medium of radio functioned largely to obscure a profit motive; and, in a celebration of consumption-as-citizenship, the needs for real democracy, fulfilling community, and equality in education were not realized even in a virtual sense in the surrogate space of radio. The same hopes have become staples of Internet theory. As with radio, the utopian promotion of the net under the rubrics of democracy, community, and educational opportunity, will serve only to obscure economic and representational disparity and thwart any democratizing potential the net might have.

In a recent Forbes magazine column, House Speaker of the th Congress, Newt Gingrich, gushes with praise for the democratizing, liberating potential he sees in the Internet:. The information age means.

Government must deal with it. He seeks both to highlight the virtual potential of the information age, and to characterize government in its familiar role as antagonistic regulator of liberating emergent media.

In strikingly similar terms to the discussion of early radio, the emergent medium of the Internet can end the oligarchy and provide us with genuine democracy. For Gingrich, the Internet is not just a corrective to democracy, it is democracy. In January , Gingrich testified in front of the House Ways and Means Committee about the democratic imperative of access to information through the Internet.

Gingrich neglects to acknowledge a basic economic reality in his assertion that a tax-credit-for-access would equal opportunity: He does not mention or is not aware that the vast majority of poor people would not save enough through an annual tax credit to buy even the most basic software package. The scope of net promotion is not confined to guaranteeing democracy.

An evangelical zeal has evolved within Internet rhetoric. Being online offers a kind of salvation which must be heralded to everyone. Maybe private companies ought to do it.

The information age is for you. Its implications are capitalist colonization and perpetuation of a market. Money that could be returned or given to the disenfranchised to improve their real lives to buy clothes or food, to build new schools, or to rent busses to transport angry voters to Washington to lobby Congress or protest is channeled back into the accounts of private companies. Agenda For Action , is also utopian. Described in this way its disruptive force is not revealed. What this description lacks however is an acknowledgement of the real economic and political problems that can come with this idea of collapsed geography and local context.

Even better programs would then be created at the these large affluent schools. As poorer urban schools have funding decreased and are forced to close due to declining enrollment, poorer students who are currently excluded from the information age by the economic realities of their own lives and educational facilities would then be even further removed from the physical sites of education and would ultimately have less access to educational materials.

These students will be left behind in the race to virtualize education. What the Agenda does not observe is that a fixation on a global community of art and literature will cause the destitution of locally relevant art and literature in the same manner that radio has meant the destitution of local music in our Buffalo example. While it is true that the net could be used as an archival site for regionally specific culture, this seems outside its purview.

Because information means empowerment — and employment — the government has a duty to ensure that all Americans have access to the resources and job creation potential of the Information Age.

But what these official promoters have failed to recognize is that access by itself is meaningless and unimportant. There are, however, political gains of all sorts in the promotion of access to information as a social curative. Political thinking about the net is most often condensable to this: This conflation of the consumer with the voter can do nothing to realize any genuine democratic potential of the net.

Again, the implication is that one must be buying the emergent medium to have representation. Included in those goals was the belief that the WELL should be profit making. To reach a critical mass, [the architects] knew they would need to start with interesting people having conversations at a somewhat more elevated level than the usual BBS stuff.

The virtual community of the net is artificial even on its own terms: But in spite of the celebration of the WELL as the new informal meeting place, a space that has replaced the pub, the cafe, and the park, Rheingold somehow manages to claim that the highest achievement for his electronic community is its ability to transport the user to yet another community. This reveals that the net has clearly not replaced the corner coffee shop in that its greatest achievement is always transporting the user out of a community, leaving whenever a community promises to become recognizable or delineable.

No real community, in the sense of actual interaction or exchange of something ideas, goods, etc. Clearly the promise of connection is more important than what is being connected to, this is the impulse that led to the virtualization of the idea of community in the first place. The eagerness to abandon and move on, rather than to work in and develop a community, mirrors the promise of that first radio ad: It also reveals that a buffet of choices is more important than developing the potential of the options or spaces already available.

This is the same thinking that promises channel television. To do this I would like to return to Enzensberger whose theory of the media may yet unlock any real potential for social change that might exist in the net. It is the mobilization of production — that is, a public identified as producers, not consumers. Any democratic potential in an emergent medium must lie in its ability to facilitate the organization of non-virtual politics, not in vacuuming political action into itself.

On only a few occasions have I experienced a glimmer of this kind of mobilization: Protests and marches were planned and the net was used to help organize them and arrange their simultaneous occurrence. Distribution lists such as POETICS were used to provide information used for speeches and posters, and texts of angry letters were posted to be downloaded and mailed to politicians. Other, primarily aesthetic, versions of this mobilization exist within the net.

Mobilization on the net happens around textual poaching, 46 the reinflection of texts already generated by the medium in order to elaborate new meanings or uses to discrete users. The Anti-hegemony Project 47 poached texts and formats from news oriented usergroups to illustrate the vacuity of traditional news coverage and to poke fun at the group of writers spontaneously involved in producing the Project.

Also, the currently difficult to regulate transfers of information if not ownership and access of the net facilitate valuable copyright violations which occasionally make available everything from philosophical texts to pornography otherwise locked up by publishing company capitalism and intellectual property law. But as the technology of information control and intellectual property law evolve to service the needs of private enterprise these useful moments will doubtlessly become more scarce.

But in spite of these moments of genuine productive potential and sparks of mobilization, the current system of ownership and management of access generally renders the productive activity on the net framed by consumption on all sides.

In order to produce anything, whether news story or parody, we must not only buy a modem but access time for every minute of our productive activity. The argument can be made that there are costs of consumption involved in every productive activity. But the one-time purchase of a computer or typewriter, and the continuous cost of paper to print on, are minimal and get less and less significant over time when compared to the 3 dollar an hour plus extras charge of most access providers.

And interestingly, the vast majority of information produced on the net the writing of user groups and chat rooms already seems to revolve almost exclusively around other consumptive activities: And further, it must be restated that the cultural community or democracy of the net, in so far as it consists of a collection of producing subjects, is still extremely class bound. Observing that a kind of creative enfranchisement exists for those with the money and the education to use the net does not minimize the efficacy of our critique of the Gingrichian classless democracy proclaimed by Internet promoters.

Corporate ownership of the media, says Enzensberger, is simply antithetical to a conception of citizen-as-producer and only affords the most co-opted and simulated form of production:. As is the case of public opinion polling, he is only asked questions so that he may have a chance to confirm his own dependence.

It is a control circuit where what is fed in has already made complete allowance for the feedback. The responsible role then for those in possession of the technology of use is to insure not a universal access to what has already been produced, but to insure a universal knowledge of media production which grows out of, and contributes to, an understanding of material social relations. This means more than simply making the economic and class realities of human relations more central to the subjects of the media; it means actually using the media to enact a change in material circumstances.

Revolutionaries of all stripes learned this decades ago, hence broadcasting centers are always the first things seized in a political overthrow. Neither the Internet, nor radio, is some kind of deus ex machina of democracy, community, or education. The net is only an emergent medium, existing in a specific context with a real set of material confines, and possibly with a real potential.

But it is a potential that will remain unrealized if we allow the drive to virtualize to obscure its material base and the economic realities of our culture. After having attended several German Universities as well as the Sorbonne, Enzensberger could have easily entered academe, but he chose initially to engage with the world on a more populist level.

He joined Radio Stuttgart and began producing radio essays. In , on the event of his first public address as the poet-in-residence at Frankfurt University, he was introduced by Theodor Adorno. His works of criticism, poetry, novels and plays interrogate a broad range of topics Spanish anarchism, cultural progress and barbarism, documentary fieldwork, communication technology, etc.

Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Critical Essays , ed. Armstrong with a forward by J. Focal Press, Martin Codel New York: Arno Press and the New York Times, xi.

Rudolf Arnheim, Radio , trans. Margaret Ludwig and Herbert Read London: National Broadcasting Company, Inc. National Broadcasting Company, It only took a few casual references to Nazi Germany to create a popular fear of the idea public ownership government management of radio in America. This fear of fascism was used by Sarnoff and others to stall the regulatory efforts of the FCC. Geneva Research Institute, These totalitarian aspects, viewed as favorable by Arnheim in the emergent medium of radio, are almost always absent from discussions of the emergent medium of the Internet.

But if this totalitarian potential is found to be essential in one emergent medium it probably also exists in another. Obviously today an Internet promoter would not laud this potential but conceal it. Agenda for Action Washington, D. The White House, 3. The White House 5. The White House 8. The White House For a discussion of the social ramifications of this virtual movement, and an understanding of the virtual ideology that it facilitates, see Arthur Kroker and Michael A.

Henry Jenkins, in his Textual Poachers , provides a useful model and vocabulary in his discussion of TV series fans as producers of a kind of cultural community.

Fans of Star Trek pirate stories and characters from the series to produce new stories in fanzines, songs and videos. Armed with copyright attorneys the owners of the series object to this appropriation. Fanzines draw attacks from Hollywood because they short-circuit the desired distribution and consumption of a product: Archived at the Electronic Poetry Center.

Ithaca College cbrown ithaca. It is early evening of a spring late, very late in coming—so late, in mid-April the deep crescents and parabolas of snow in the yard, resisting even an imperceptible slide down the subtle slopes on a chilly gray evening, seem something new grass may simply latch onto to grow on and carpet right over. It is dark outside, sixteenth of April and the stars are turning and turning, but the equinox is weeks to come it seems. Hush my sweets, your bangs are growing sweetly into your eyes, but we will trim them back.

And your ankles sometimes ache in your growing pains, like my knees do when the world suggests that you will suffer one day before you die. And the globe atop another table goes untouched, Australia catching day after day of sunshine and dust. January , Atlanta Emory University russmne emoryu1. In Russia, momentous changes took place in spheres which were not the same as those in the West.

But both worlds were united through a common revolutionary model. Revolutions are certainly a part of the Modernist project. These discoveries were all creations of Modernism. Although antagonistic to artistic Modernism, the communist revolution was a manifestation of political Modernism. On the whole, Modernism can be defined as a revolution which strove to abolish the arbitrary character of culture and the relativity of signs in order to affirm the hidden absoluteness of being, regardless of how one defined this essential, authentic being: The list could go on.

This new depth, which it acquires through the comparison, is projected as the path leading out of a common revolutionary past, whose heritage both postmodern paradigms — the Russian and the Western one — are striving to overcome. On the face of it, mass communication technology appears to capture reality in all its minutest details. Works produced by this movement included giant color photographs, framed and functioning as pictures.

According to Baudrillard, reality which is firmly entwined in a net of mass communication has disappeared completely from the contemporary Western world, ceding its place to hyperreality which is produced by artificial means:. Reality itself founders in hyperrealism, the meticulous reduplication of the real, preferrably through another, reproductive medium, such as photography. From medium to medium, the real is volatilized, becoming an allegory of death. But it is also, in a sense, reinforced through its own destruction.

It becomes reality for its own sake , the fetishism of the lost object. This paradox was discovered by quantum physics long before the advent of the theoreticians of postmodernism.

It was the scientists who first discovered that the elementary particles, that is, the objects of observation, were largely determined by the measuring instruments. Quantum reality is in part an observer-created reality. Quantum mechanics became the first discipline to admit to its hyper-scientific character or, more precisely, the hyper-physical nature of its objects. In getting ever closer to the elementary foundations of matter, science is discovering the imaginary and purely rational character of that physical reality, which it allegedly describes but which in fact it invents.

In the past, discoveries and inventions could be clearly distinguished: In the present, there are no such strictly delimited categories of discoveries and inventions, since all discoveries tend to become inventions. The difference between discovery and invention has become blurred, at least as far as the deepest, originary layers of reality are concerned.

In the same way, the more perfect instruments for the observation of physical reality are used, the less can it be detected as reality in a proper sense, as something different from the very conditions of its observation.

It is the improvement of instruments for the observation and reproduction of physical and cultural reality that dimmed out reality as such and made it interchangeable with its own representations. Paradoxically, the more truthful are the methods of representation, the more dubious the category of truth becomes.

An object presented with the maximum authenticity does not differ any more from its own copy. Hyperreality supplants reality as truthfulness makes truth unattainable. Rather, they describe a new limit of being and perception, at which Russia and the West had simultaneously arrived. In the human sciences the same thing takes place as in the natural sciences.

Along with hyperphysical objects emerges what could be called hypertextuality. The relationship between criticism and literature undergoes a change. Criticism is engaged in purifying the stuff of literature by separating from it all those additional layers, with which it was encumbered by schools of criticism of earlier times: But as the process of purification of literature from all non-literary elements continued to reduce literature to the text itself, so the process of appropriation of that text by criticism developed alongside it, until the text was transformed into a thing wholly dependent on and even engendered by criticism.

In the same manner as textual criticism, quantum mechanics splits the physical object — the atom — into so many minimal component parts whose objective existence fades into ideal projections of the methods of observation and the properties of the physical measuring appartus. Pure textual signs, excised from literature in the manner of the smallest irreducible particles or quants, are equivalent to ideal projections of the critical methodology. It is the critic who determines the meanings of those signs, intially purified of all meanings.

The paradoxical result of such a purification of literature has been its increasing reliance on criticism and on the method of interpretation.

Literature thus becomes a system of pure devices or signs, filled with meanings by a criticism according to one or another method of interpretation. In other words, criticism bans literature from its own territory and substitutes the power which the writer used to exercise over the mind of the reader by the power of the critic.

It confronts the reader with its barriers of interpretation. Certainly, all these negative responses to the modernist revolution in criticism belong themselves to anti-, rather than postmodernist consciousness; more precisely, they designate the very limits of modernism. Hypertextuality as a phenomenon of literary criticism parallels the phenomenon of the hyper-object created by physical science.

Existence thus became a pure abstraction of being, produced by consciousness and deprived of all characteristics which might impart concreteness to it. In his concreteness, a man is either one or another entity, he is either lazy or diligent, a clerk or a peasant and so on.

After all, the direct, immediate, legitimate fruit of heightened consciousness is inertia. I practise thinking, and consequently each of my primary causes pulls along another, even more primary, in its wake, and so on ad infinitum. That is really the essence of all thinking and self-awareness. It is even more abstract. Such is the result of the existential quest.

This it does in the same way as quantum physics dissolves the determinateness of matter to obtain elementary particles as projections of mathematical description. Contrary to a conventional opinion, Kierkegaard is a much more abstract thinker than Hegel. This irrationality is much more cerebral and abstract than all the forms of rationality which divide being into concrete types, into essences, into laws and into concepts.

At this ultimate level of abstraction, being is only the opposite of non-being. The type of existence of the For-itself is a pure internal negation. Thus determination is a nothing which does not belong as an internal structure either to the thing or to consciousness, but its being is to-be-summoned by the For-itself across a system of internal negations in which the in-itself [the world of objects] is revealed in its indifference to all that is not itself.

Thus nihilation is that by which consciousness exists. In this case, the absurdity of being, as it appears to the nullifying consciousness, can be understood as the derivative of this nothingness, of this abstraction that strips concrete things of their meaning. This is no longer that nothingness which has a reality in-and-for-itself, like the self-effacing nothingness of self-consciousness. This is a nothingness which has lost that intimate relationship to its for-itself and which is turned towards the absurd Being which surrounds it, which is pure abstraction, deprived of even the concreteness of self-consciousness and of self-negation.

This Being is simple nonentity — a being-for-no-one. It is a conceptual abstraction to such a degree that it abstracts itself from its own rational foundation in order to affirm itself as its own opposite — as Being as such, ungraspable by reason, unconcretizable and untypifiable.

There are two degrees of abstraction: When rational abstraction goes as far as to abstract from rationality itself, it converts into the concept of universal irrationality.

This form of abstracting reason from reason is the one which gives rise to the notion of the non-sense of pure Being. In the words of the English novelist and religious writer, C.

On the scale of Western civilization, it was a construction of still another level of hyper-reality: The more intense and urgent it is the more it is a world inside the head. Lawrence, as well as, on a more basic level, in the upsurge in the circulation of pornographic writing. Pornography is the very bastion of hypersexuality which presents the condensed simulacra of sexuality: Even the theory of psychoanalysis, for all its scientific caution and sophistication, reveals this hyper-sexual, and more broadly hyper-real, tendency.

True to its ultimate destiny in the 20th century, consciousness thus creates something other than itself out of itself in order to surrender to this other as something primal and incontestably powerful. Hyperreality is a mode of self-alienation of consciousness.

Even Freud admitted that the discovery of the unconscious as a force dominating consciousness must serve the overall increase in the power of consciousness itself. Thus psychoanalysis is the method of penetrating into those spheres of consciousness which consciousness itself had declared to be beyond its penetration; through the symbols of the unconscious, consciouness plays hide-and-seek with itself.

As distinct from quantum mechanics, which recognizes its physical object to be prestructured by consciousness a priori , psychoanalysis sets up the conscious structuring of its psychical object as its final goal.

But in both cases the physical and psychic realities prove to be at least partially projections or functions of the intellect, which observes and analyzes them.

Perhaps psychoanalysis would benefit methodologically if it followed the example of quantum mechanics and recognized that the observed attributes of the unconscious were primarily determined by or even derived from the very conditions of its observation and description.

The significance of the sexual revolution, theoretically dominated by psychoanalysis, did not consist of the fact that organic life and instinctual life changed the modes of their existence from one being dominated by consciousness to one of dominance.

Where instinct dominated — in the intimate sphere, in real-life sexual relations — there it had always been dominant. Sex thus became a spectacle, a psychological commodity, reproduced in infinite phantasies of seduction, of hypersexual power, of a hyper-masculinity and a hyper-femininity. It is a quality introduced by a consciousness with infinite powers for abstraction and generalization.

The four processes indicated so far, which led to the creation of hyperobjects — namely: Soviet society was obsessed with the idea of communality, of the communalization of life. The economy was built on the communalization of private property, which came under the jurisdiction of the entire people. The communal was placed infinitely higher than the individual.

But this new type of sociality, infinitely tighter and denser in its imperatives compared to the earlier pre-revolutionary one, was nothing but another instance of hypersociality and a simulacrum of communality. In fact, the social bonds which unite people were rapidly being destroyed. The civil war and the process of collectivization destroyed the natural ties among members of the same nationalities and professional communities.

Even the base of the entire state pyramid rested on the will of a single individual, who regulated according to his own needs or judgement the work of the whole gigantic social mechanism. And it is curious that it is precisely communism, with its will to communality , which always and everywhere gave rise to the personality cult: This is not accidental but is the expression of the hypersocial nature of the new society.

Communism is not a natural, primary sociality, arising on the basis of biological and economic connections and needs, which unite people. Communism thus represents some sort of hypnotic quintessence of the social body, which excludes and destroys everything individual and concrete by virtue of its exclusive abstractness — and for this very reason reveals, in the final analysis, its purely individualistic and speculative origin.

Such is the postulate of this philosophy, aspiring towards a completely sober, scientific approach to reality, verified by experience.

But as is well-known, in practice Soviet materialism never tried to conform to the laws of material reality but strove instead to refashion this reality.

The material of nature was subjected to merciless exploitation, pollution and destruction, the material life of the people was brought into decline, the economy was subordinated not to the material laws of production but to entirely idealistic five-year plans and ideological edicts of the successive party congresses. Materialism was, in essence, a purely ideological construct, which raised the primacy of material into a theoretical absolute. In practice, materialism annihilated the material.

Just as hypersociality served the cult of the singular personality, so hypermateriality became a means of legitimating abstract ideas in their scholastically enclosed finality. To this we can add the revolution in the means of communication — the mass media revolution — which led to the birth of TV, video and computer technologies, producing a reality on the screen, perceived as more real than the world beyond the screen.

The very nature of the revolution appears in a new light — as the means or force productive of hyperphenomena. In its straightforward aims, the revolution is a coup — it sets up one antithesis in the place of another: Materialism has thus turned out to be much more detrimental to the notion of matter and much more scholastic and abstract than any idealistic philosophy anterior to it. Communism has turned out to be more favorable for the abolute affirmation of a singular, almighty individuality than any kind of individualism which preceded it.

Matter, reduced to elementary particles, turns out to be a much more ideal entity, mathematically construed, than matter in the traditional sense of the term, having a certain inertia mass.

Sexuality reduced to pure drive turns out to be much more cerebral and phantasmagorical than the ordinary sexual urge, which results in a total state of enamouredness in the physical, emotional and spiritual sense. This excess is such an abundant surplus of the quality in question that in crossing the limit it turns into its own antithesis reveals its own illusionary nature. Certainly, it is neither the classic Hegelian dialectics of thesis and antithesis with subsequent reconciliation in synthesis, nor the modernist model of negative dialectics elaborated in the Frankfurt school Theodor Adorno and Herbert Marcuse , with an irreducible opposition of a revolutionary antithesis to a conservative thesis.

Postmodernist dialectics if it is still possible to combine such heterogeneous terms implies neither reconciliation nor revolution but the internal tension of irony. Antithesis, pushed to an extreme, finds thesis inside itself, moreover, exposes itself as an extension and intensification of this very thesis.

Revolutionary negation proves to be an aggrandizement, a hyperbole of what is negated. Antithesis circles back on thesis, as its disguised and exaggeratated projection. In this way, materialism proves to be not a negation of idealism, but its most radical and militant form, ruthlessly destructive in regard to materiality.

Communism proves to be not a negation of individualism, but its most voluntarist form ruthlessly destructive in regard to communality. The excess of quality turns into the illusion of this quality whereas its opposite which was intently negated actually becomes heightened.

Thus hypersociality heightens the power of an individual over society. That is, the social factor is subject to such a degree of intensification that it exceeds and negates all the particularities which initially made up the social. This is followed in the second half of the 20th century by a gradual realization of the virtuality of all these ubiquitous superlatives. Rather they are intellectual machines designed for the production of pseudomateriality, pseudosexuality, pseudosociality, etc.

Thus postmodernism finds in modernism not only the target of criticism, but also the ground for its own play with hyperphenomena. Contemporary society is postmodern, postcommunist, post-utopian, post-industrial, post-materialist, post-existential, and post-sexual.

Publication is scheduled for Spring, The ISBNs are as follows: Vladiv-Glover, who translated and edited the original Russian language version of this essay. It was then revised and extended by the author. So in response to that, we developed a deposit system for new clients, at 20 percent of the low estimate of the property clients wish to bid on. I feel the mainland collectors are still an unknown entity. The overall result is 43 percent lower than the peak of the Chinese art market in spring But others close to the scene are certain that this has to do in great part with the recent government detentions of influential collectors and art handlers.

Despite reports in the news that the firms turned over client lists, according to Curiel, the extent of cooperation was limited to providing information on prices of certain items.

Hong Kong has no import or export duties, making it a free zone for art sales, which is why many mainland collectors keep works in warehouses there. China, on the other hand, applies customs duties of up to 34 percent, making it prohibitively expensive to bring art into the country. Scheduled to open in late , the freeport in no way precludes the payment of custom duties once the artwork leaves the port and enters mainland China.

Barbara Pollack is a contributing editor of ARTnews. Additional reporting by Sammi Yiyuan Liu. By Xia Fan and Sammi Liu. Although China is one of the leading art markets in the world, collecting there is still largely domestic.

Chinese collectors are mainly interested in buying Chinese calligraphy and paintings and contemporary Chinese art, the report confirmed.

But the arrival of Art Basel Hong Kong and a growing number of museums and commercial galleries showing international art on the mainland and in Hong Kong will change this—or so many believe.

The two leading Chinese auction houses, China Guardian and Poly International, promoted fine Chinese calligraphy and painting when they entered the Hong Kong market in Meanwhile, contemporary ink, which draws on traditional materials and techniques, has become a Chinese art market hot spot. Galerie Perrotin opened its Hong Kong branch in May and mainly promotes Western contemporary art.

It has exhibited works by several Western contemporary artists in the past year. As a result, he argues, the Chinese art market will eventually become international. But Ben Janssens, the chairman of Tefaf, is confident about the growth of the market for European art in China. He says that time and education are needed before there will be widespread collecting of Western art and antiques.

This confidence will inevitably influence the Chinese art market, as high-net-worth individuals tend to buy luxury goods and art. With his closely cropped hair, ever burning cigarette, and trademark round eyeglasses, Zhang Xiaogang has become the face of Chinese art, an unlikely rock-star figure at the head of a mania sweeping auction houses from Beijing to New York.

In the mids, his work was banned in his home country. Raised for several years by an aunt, Zhang immersed himself in drawing, only to be sent to re-education camp as a teenager. After hitting upon his mature style in the early s, Zhang ran into another obstacle when authorities deemed his paintings unfit for public display. As the country gradually opened itself economically and culturally, he found himself back in favor.

Unlike so many Chinese artists of his and previous generations, Zhang has not had to expatriate to make his fortune. He runs a studio in Beijing, where he smokes and paints like a fiend to keep up with demand. Once an empire of enforced egalitarianism, this nation of 1. A boom of this magnitude requires distinctive artists and eager collectors with cash to burn. It was snapped up by a mainland collector: Zhang Lan, a female restaurateur who is becoming the Wolfgang Puck of China. Expressionist architect Philippe Starck has designed a showpiece South Beauty restaurant for Times Square, which is to come complete with a gallery to show off her purchases.

Until recently, Chinese contemporary art was purely an export market. Baron Guy Ullens, a Belgian philanthropist, was an early collector, beginning with purchases he made in the mids on business trips to China. Uli Sigg, Swiss ambassador to China from to , was another who put together an encyclopedic selection of Chinese contemporary art at a time when most works sold for a few hundred dollars.

Born in Hong Kong, but the product of a British education, Tang assembled his collection by combing through the squalid studios where Chinese artists worked in the late s. Tang did everything to promote Chinese contemporary art in the s, even inviting Princess Diana to the Venice Biennale, which featured several Chinese artists.

Just one problem, as Tang recalls: With the photographers banned, they took her through the gallery with her back turned to the most scandalous pieces. More than a decade later, the rest of the world caught on. Mainland auction houses have also entered the fray in the last two years. Its chief competitor, Guardian, opened in It was founded by Wang Yannan, daughter of Zhao Ziyang, the late Communist Party leader who was deposed and put under house arrest when he opposed the use of armed troops in Tiananmen Square, in The Chinese houses seem to encourage speculation.

Nor is it rare for an artist or dealer to place new works directly into auction, then bring along friends and sympathetic collectors to bid up the price. But with the market this hot, buyers from New York and London have been showing little compunction in flipping contemporary Chinese artworks.

But collectors from the mainland are seemingly more circumspect. And then there is Guan Yi, who has an enviable private collection on display in his Beijing warehouse.

Even as late as , none of this seemed possible. Beijing had just begun developing its contemporary-art district, Factory , a former munitions plant whose Bauhaus-style architecture attracted dozens of artists and dealers.

The most notable gallery in the complex is the Beijing Commune, founded by Leng Lin, a curator who has known artists such as Zhang Xiaogang and Yue Minjun throughout their careers. And in the few years since Factory established itself, additional galleries have sprung out of the crowded streets. With the culture being annihilated, it was fresh to start again. Painter Yue Minjun built a splendid compound for himself on the outskirts of Beijing in the Songzhuang district, a kind of Chinese East Hampton, given the number of artists living there.

His neighbor Fang Lijun went further, opening a chain of art-filled restaurants in Beijing. She also stopped by the studio of Lin Tianmiao, the sole female artist in this group of alpha males, whose home and studio are contained within a restored farmhouse. Back in Shanghai, bad-boy artist Zhang Huan has taken over a vast industrial complex in the southern part of the city, which exceeds in size and scale even the most lavish studios in Beijing.

In , this artist covered himself in honey and fish oil at a public toilet, remaining motionless for an hour as insects covered his flesh. Now he has a production line that rivals that of Damien Hirst or Jeff Koons, employing more than craftsmen who live in an adjoining dormitory.

Wood-carvers chip away at blocks for prints that will be larger than billboards, and welders work on sculptures more than 25 feet tall. In a room filled with hundreds of canvases, assistants sprinkle ash, like Buddhist monks making sand mandalas, to create photo-realistic images.

The powdery substance is created in his studio, as well as collected from temples where people burn incense; the artist has his own truck to drive around to collect it. He left for New York in , completely pessimistic about the future of art in China, only to return 12 years later, when his father fell ill. With little hope of a further art career, either inside or outside of China, Ai Weiwei built a home for himself, modeled on the traditional gray brick courtyard houses found in central Beijing, and launched himself as a self-taught architect.

Now heralded as an international artist of the first rank, Ai Weiwei sent 1, Chinese citizens to Kassel, Germany, this past summer as his contribution to the Documenta arts festival. In he will see his crowning achievement unveiled at the Summer Olympics: But he still works with a wary sense of freedom.

His sense of caution may be justified. Just two summers ago, government agencies in Shanghai and Beijing removed numerous artworks from galleries after a long period when censorship of the arts had seemed to cease.

Earlier this year, the staff of the Duolun Museum of Modern Art, in Shanghai, walked out over disagreements with authorities about what art could or could not be shown. Yet the feeling of suppression has definitely subsided. Many believe that the Chinese government simply has bigger concerns: If anything demonstrates a change in mood, it is the inclusion of the iconoclasts Cai Guo-Qiang and Ai Weiwei in the Olympic program.

Cai is possibly the most famous Chinese art expatriate, having left his homeland in and launched a spectacular international career. Now he will bring one of his famous fireworks displays—seen in the skies throughout the world—to the Olympics. In acknowledgment of his new role within China, Cai is building a studio within the ruins of a double-courtyard house two blocks from the Forbidden City, the 18th-century imperial residence that was handed over to the mayor of Beijing when the Communists took over, in He has been selected to orchestrate the cultural activities at the Olympic Village and other key sites in Beijing.

In addition to commissioning fireworks maestro Cai Guo-Qiang, Fan has persuaded Chinese film director Zhang Yimou to help with the ceremonies. Zhang Huan, who moved to New York in and now has returned to China to set up his studio in Shanghai, jumped from Max Protetch to Jeffrey Deitch to Luhring Augustine, burning bridges along the way. Foreign dealers, while welcomed for sales, were not trusted enough for long-term relationships. Yang Fudong, born in , an artist whose atmospheric films have been featured at virtually every biennial and major art museum in the past five years, has worked with Helbling at ShanghART and more recently with the Marian Goodman Gallery in New York and Paris.

Her fairy-tale-like pieces, peopled with forlorn heroines and sad-faced clowns, might have come from anywhere. In interviews, she talks about personal expression, apparently seeing no need to define herself or her art as particularly Chinese. Young Chinese artists are free to think as selfishly as anyone who wields a paintbrush in Brooklyn or on the Lower East Side.

It seems the Chinese government has managed to defuse the explosive potential of contemporary art simply by allowing it to flourish. In , after the Cultural Revolution ended, there were about graduating art majors from universities in China. Today there are over , The modern art scene began in the s, and became a key period in Chinese contemporary art.

International contemporary art styles began to influence the work of Chinese artists. Avant-Garde, in the larger context, is the forward thinking movement in the art world of experimental and innovative styles. The show was the first contemporary art exhibition permitted in an official forum as well as the first Chinese authority-sponsored exhibition of innovative and new age art.

The entire exhibit lasted for a few hours. Due to the nature of the artistic message, the show ended after a performance artist entered the show with a gun and shot two bullets through her work—a pair of mannequins in phone boxes. Although gaining popularity for the event, the artist Xiao Lu said the motivation for her action was not political or aesthetic, as the media had portrayed. Rather it was an emotional action. In shooting the mannequins she was in fact shooting a reflection of herself.

Despite the motivation, she still inspired many with her actions. Artists sometimes moved four or five times a year. Shows were held in basements in out-of-the-way areas; at longest their exhibits stayed open for a few days. Known as Cynical Realism, it focused on the already rising trend in the pursuit of individual expression by artists.

They broke away from traditional artistic trends, considered to be part of a collective mindset existing since the Cultural Revolution. Through their art they focused on themes of social and political issues, as well as events since the early s. They offered their publics a realist perspective and interpretation of the rapidly changing culture as China.

In the s, the art scene was still largely underground until an international event moved it into the spotlight. It began with the visit from Princess Diana at the Venice Biennial. The exhibit was notable for featuring several Chinese artists and brought Chinese art came to the forefront in the art world.

New movements multiply with bewildering speed, as cities, artists and international dealers promote their favorites. Less than 10 percent of those who apply are accepted.

Though continuing with the spirit of experimenting with the arts, students are traditionally taught to paint by painting the same figurative many times as a form of honing their skills. Beijing is still the main hub for contemporary art, though the modern art movement has spread all over China. In Qingdao, art clubs have sprouted around the city, particularly with the help of social media. The universities offer art degrees and the local Qingdao Art Museum now features modern art exhibits considered improper not long ago.

Yet that is not putting off buyers. Last year Asia accounted for nearly a quarter of global auction revenue, nearly twice what it was two years ago. So how does the neophyte collector find his or her way through this jungle? Before , Chinese contemporary art was largely the province of European and American collectors who bought on the cheap and watched as prices went up.

Now it is more likely to stay in Asia. Taiwan, which has some of the most mature collectors in the region, has recently acquired an appetite for contemporary art. Hong Kong, by contrast, is a hybrid culture, where collectors love international art, particularly Pop. Most Chinese artists live in Beijing, whereas most collectors come from Shanghai, the historic financial centre. One thing Chinese collectors agree on is the superiority of painting.

Beijing is the intellectual capital of China and has a burgeoning gallery scene in its art district, which is known as Contemporary dealers set up shop here to stay close to the many artists that have made Beijing their home. A handful of prestigious international players—Continua, Urs Meile, Jens Faurschou and Pace Gallery—have also opened there, but these are mainly exporters.

Pace has shown many Chinese artists in its New York galleries but, until recently, no Western art in China. One of two elite institutions the other is the China Academy of Art located in Hangzhou , the academy admits only one in 30 applicants and has a magnetic pull on ambitious Chinese artists.

But the popularity of this kind of work seems to be on the wane. Expert craftsmanship, preferably with an overt display of time-consuming labour on the part of the artist himself, remains a driving force in Chinese contemporary art.

Mr Zeng, for example, is adamant that none of his assistants is allowed to pick up a brush. The way Mr Zeng sells his work is illustrative of a general trend.

In the s, Mr Zeng sold most of his paintings directly from his studio. Later he worked with a range of dealers, settling with Shanghart.

Now he has signed an exclusive global deal with Larry Gagosian for all sales beyond the mainland. As Chinese artists come to appreciate the confidence in their work that can be conferred by a strong gallery, they will start seeking integration into the global art world.

The endorsement of international collectors with powerful reputations is also essential. Museums of contemporary art with permanent collections and solid scholarship are the most important ingredient still missing from the Chinese art world.

The Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art UCCA in Beijing helped transform the district from a desolate industrial site into a cultural destination, but it lacks the steadfastness expected of a public non-profit-making space. The centre opened in late , but its Belgian benefactor, Guy Ullens, has already sold some of the best works in his collection, and he is now looking to sell off the space itself.

Currently, the most professional curatorial institution in Asia is the 21st-century museum of contemporary art in Kanazawa, Japan. The most important collector of Chinese contemporary art is Uli Sigg, a businessman and former Swiss ambassador to China.

Mr Sigg, who owns 3, works and has created the best record of Chinese art history from to the present, wants to return the art to the region. Securing the Sigg collection would do much to confirm the importance of any new institution. The Chinese art world is developing quickly.

The number of reliable dealers is growing, but the market needs bona fide collectors with the energy to do intelligent research and the commitment to stick to their choices. Buying quality art is rarely a good way to make a quick buck. The true relevance of art reveals itself over time. Good information is the key to success in the art market. In China, a cultural landscape with so few signposts, this knowledge is harder to obtain—but even more essential.

Discover news with your friends. Give it a try. To get going, simply connect with your favourite social network:. Celebrity profiles, wild prices, serious collectors and a resulting, equally serious secondary market seemed to come, like all fashions, out of nowhere. The political, social and artistic conditions had been building, however, and Taree-born Brian Wallace was there from the beginning.

He first travelled in China in and returned to Beijing the next year to pursue language studies. The friends he made were young artists and over the next few years he helped them scrounge spaces for informal exhibitions. There were no commercial galleries: The Old Summer Palace, a famous bohemian hangout, was a popular venue before the authorities cracked down and threw everyone out.

It was a dynamic time. Last year, Wallace celebrated 20 years of his pioneering Beijing gallery, Red Gate. Twenty-eight artists are represented. Wallace arrived in China less than a decade after reformists, led by Deng Xiaoping, had started the process of economic liberalisation at the end of Things were opening up, but in a stop-start fashion.

Local authorities still harassed artists and police would regularly raid exhibitions, pulling pictures off the walls. Political criticism was intermittently allowed in waves of loosening, followed by crackdown. Through it all, Chinese contemporary art was coming of age. But then, also in , came Tiananmen Square. Intellectuals and artists pulled their heads in.

Several artists who would go on to big careers left China — some of them, including Guan Wei and Ah Xian, for Australia. In , Wallace enrolled in an art history course at the Beijing Fine Art Academy to formalise his interests. At the end of it, five years after he had arrived in China, he was wondering what he might do next. Go home to Australia? His Australian scholarships had run out. He could find only part-time work.

He decided, perhaps as a stalling measure, to open a Western-style commercial gallery for his artist friends. In a stroke of luck, he quickly found the perfect venue: It was a year-old Ming edifice that had just been restored, all deeply polished log floors and imposing pillars. Wallace showed seven artists in his first exhibition in July One of them, Wang Lifeng, is still with the gallery and will participate in Sydney. That first show was a success — the paintings sold.

All the buyers were foreigners. Perhaps it was luck, or the curiosity factor, because there was no market at that stage. It was five years before another gallery opened, he says, then one opened in Shanghai, and another in Beijing, all run by foreigners.

There was no domestic market at all. The Chinese were too poor at first, and even as their economic situation improved, there were other priorities: The Chinese market has taken off only in the past five years or so, as prosperity skyrocketed and outsiders began to take an interest. Even for traditional art forms such as brush and ink painting, Wallace says, there has only recently been a purchasing, as opposed to a viewing, market.

The domestic market remains deeply conservative: The really big international names — including performance and multimedia artists such as Ai Wei Wei and Cai Guo-Qiang — remain more honoured in the breach. Thousands of artists now work in the city, including foreigners who come for the atmosphere and the local production skills.

The famous art zone, housed in a decommissioned military complex in Dashanzi, in the Chaoyong district of Beijing, is exemplary. It has morphed as rapidly as the Chinese art scene has. In the early s, peripatetic artists, always looking for cheap spaces, began to congregate there. It became seriously cool. Many top-end galleries have now moved out to Caochangdi, where Ai Wei Wei first established his compound in Wallace opened a satellite gallery in the zone in Red Gate Gallery was situated well away from other galleries and he wanted the company.

The financial crisis caused only a pause in the Beijing art market. There is now a busy calendar of art fairs, auctions, biennales, triennials, festivals and competitions.

Curators from around the world cruise through regularly and foreign artists can get breaks they may not have got in the backwaters they came from. Private museums of contemporary art have sprung up, such as the interesting Today museum, which opened in , and the Ullens Centre for Contemporary art, set up by Belgian collector Guy Ullens in The gallery scene, too, is maturing, Wallace says, running more sophisticated programs, including residencies and lecture series.

Chen Wei, Waiting a bird to wake up, , mixed media, dimension variable. These two exhibitions dismantle this fixed impression of Chinese contemporary art. In these exhibitions, China still remains as an unidentifiable country. However, these exhibitions also prove the potential of China as a country that can flexibly supply products for any kind of demand. The artworks in these exhibitions represent ideas ranging from extremely delicate and aesthetic dimensions to a self-consciousness about the violent history of imposed changes.

Also these artworks reflect, on a microscopic as well as macroscopic level, the on-going changes in China that made it one of the two giants along with United States, after the fall of other socialist states.

By looking at Chinese modern art from various angles, the exhibitions let us know that the artist is the most convincing witness of this age. By, or against their own will, artists, who have to be the most individual beings, have hypersensitively responded toward totalitarian culture. After the new China was established in the mid 20th century, there was a history of violence and oppression on the other side of the dazzling growth, as it became a rival to Western capitalism. A system that opposes an imaginary or real enemy, needs to strongly crackdown on domestic opposition in order to seize hegemonic control from the external opposition.

Whether the state has a credible cause like revolution or for the purposes of enlightenment with a bright vision, an argument based against the opposition is a similar idea to making the enemy into the opposition. In the midst of the conflict with capitalism, Chinese socialism became a capitalist system not be led by the economy but by the state. At here the nation monopolize the capital and even the violence.

Reflecting the spirit of the times, the artworks in these two exhibitions share subtleties with the modernization of Chinese society, as they are modern art. In this case, modernity has two faces that developed out of destruction. The equivocal form that not so much as capitalism or socialism has made them stood out both strength and weakness.

The contradiction of capitalism like the gap between rich and poor in a classed society meets inefficiency, authoritarianism, and corruption, so social conflicts cannot be hidden but are instead used to create violent effects.

The anxiety and the fear of the change that appears frequently in Chinese modern art reflects the history of the one party system that has tried to conceal the actual violence it has perpetrated as well as the history of coercion suffered by many people. But this severe contradiction in Chinese society and the conflict it enacts prompts artists as the others of society and has therefore, paradoxically, become a fertile ground of content for art making. So, from the diverse possibility of art making itself, which has antagonized and acted against the system, we can identify the capability of the Chinaese people and its true identities.

The Chinese contemporary video works shown in Revolving Stage, at Arario Gallery, are the proper medium to capture the accelerated flow of the time in the Modern era. These works must have been started with an aim towards liberation, but ultimately became a place not only for the contradiction of enlightenment that the oppressing propaganda art illuminated, but also the retrogression towards commercial trends that intensified after their first appearance in the s.

With unique strong lines and contrast of the colors of the woodblock prints, leaping between the cuts, is so rough as an animation that we may feel seasick at the drastic changes in the portrayed history. With the strong contrast of black and white and the intensity of sudden changes, the video shows a distance from the water-stream-like natural time flow.

As well, in the work of Wang Jianwei, placed at the entrance of the second floor, there is a feeling of chaos on the stage of history. Each of the main characters in this video occupy uproarious stages, in a market fair, wearing traditional, modern and contemporary costumes. In the last part, they all mixed together on one stage. The ideology of the modern paradigm, like progress or development, cannot make things of past disappear completely.

The staged scenes the artist directed were already a spectacle, yet he later modified these in the editing to create an even greater sense of chaos and vibrancy, in order to show these mixed realities coexisting. Compared to the long history of China, the modern concept of utopia is blind and imposed as the most severe of changes, which this work compares by decentering it with multiple loci.

Another artist Wang Gongxin records the changing process of pigments sprayed on body parts. What is aesthetically appealing here is the interaction between the body as a living organism combined with the refined inorganic substance. It is reminiscent of death as the fragmented body assumes the shape of the inorganic substance.

The video repeats a time flow that shows the relationship of death to living on a microscopic dimension. The change has been always there, but in the modern era the uncertainty of it has risen as expectation rather than experience, in other words the portion of future is rapidly grown than the past.

Reinhart Koselleck The uncertainty of the modern era does not originated from chaos but from systematization. Systems, regardless of left or right, or even more when the two oppose each other, operates more as unified force. Here it is clear the new media artists of China are responding to this hostile force. Wang Jianwei, Gaze, , single channel video, 13min 25sec. The artworks in New Contemporary Art from China show the intense wave of change to Chinese society are not a variable any more, but a constant.

These changes, like them or not, right or wrong, have become a standing condition of living, so people just have learned how to live with them. Another characteristic of our time, is that the present is regarded as a transition period.

Contemporary artists mix the uncertainty derived from the system with the internal workings of art making. The impact is internalized which then reverberates through varied formal devices. The numerous sacrifices made by the Chinese people that created dark shadows upon Chinese modern history, are reflected the flow of the red lights, which then are reminiscent of both energy and death. Miao expresses the multiple timelines coexisting in modern China, by using the icons of the Western art history.

The work of Xu Bing looks like vintage calligraphy, but is made up of signs that cannot be read. Xu seems to follow a traditional style, but there is a contemporary aesthetic in his piece that puts signified and signifier in parentheses, while experimenting with the structural elements of language.

In this formulation the structure generates the meaning. In contrast, Yuan Yuan arranged sparkling youths as though they just stepped out of a fashion magazine into a bubble shaped structure.

The structure itself is similar to a space where merchandize is arranged. At a glance, the colorful consumer society brought about by the open economic reforms seems far away from the dreary authoritarianism of the past, but is really equivalent in that consumer society is a voluntarily agreed upon totalitarianism.

The sketches of daily life by Wen Ling have the light touch of a comicbook. Different from ordinary artists, Wen says often he indulges in publishing comic books, Internet community and social media, which can be an entry point for the capitalist consumption, but also a powerful influence in transforming a closed authoritarian society. The media Wen indulges in have potentials to disperse power from the party and the nation to citizens and society.

The bird or angel, which Chen Wei installed in a dark space can neither step on the ground nor fly up to the sky, but instead merely floats. This omnipotent being who could once cross many universes, now elegiacally looks down at the one-dimensional world, which is buried under materiality, the only value.

Since the end of the s, Chinese contemporary art has always been entangled with the western art. In fact, this entanglement started when China began to modernize under the western influence. Therefore, it is evident that Chinese contemporary culture followed the western as an example. Here is a case in point. Though this kind of imitation is immature; it is still an indispensable step in the growth of the Chinese contemporary art. In addition, faced with various western cultural resources, Chinese contemporary artists chose to imitate.

The imitation with individual and local experience indicates that the imitation is based on the demand of the local culture. Meanwhile, it is undeniable that there are accidental and blind imitations. If the book is not picked up or translated, it is impossible for the idea in it to develop in China. For instance, a large number of people follow the style of Freud Lucian. In the entanglement of imitation and alienation, as well as admiration and resistance, Chinese contemporary art in s saw the post-colonialism market.

Then, a sharp and serious problem arose: The Chinese overseas artists, on one hand, had no choice but to accept the inferior situation, on the other hand, they tried hard to take advantage of the cultural background and resolve the problem in the perspective of the local culture and on the basis of the local resources Huang Yangli defined this way as Using Eastern Culture to Win Western Culture.

Chinese contemporary art distinguished itself rapidly and degraded itself ideologically so that it is far from resolving the problems of the local culture. Its pioneering quality is fading gradually. At present, indulging in culture thievery is evident and serious. The reason why people feel puzzled about the definition and orientation of art lies in the value of the artists.

Since , a large amount of capital was put into the Chinese contemporary art market. The Chinese contemporary art, once a borderline category, became popular so rapidly that the old artists who are busy to summarize the victory still have doubts and puzzles. First, we have to admit that the Chinese contemporary artists are pride of self-control. The fact that Chinese contemporary art can draw so much attention is closely related to the economic and political development of China. Second, the sudden prosperity of the Chinese contemporary art market has something to do with the non-academic tendency, such as the current financial policy.

Third, the price of the contemporary works is soaring. However, the art value is not table. Some people buy the works with the intention of seeking profit by short-term investment instead of collecting. The buyers use a series of propaganda activities to increase the price and then sell them. Nobody wants to be the final owner of the works of the highest price. Because they will lose every cent they invested if the market collapses.

Finally, with the increasing of the price, artists become more and more confident. And the western culture which was the model is ignored and despised. Actually, there is no direct relation between the academic value and the market value. If artists can gain confidence because of the price increase, they also can lose it because of the price decrease.

It is the truth that the works with the highest price were the ones with a strong sense of post-colonialism created in s. The value of the mainstream of the Chinese contemporary art is not high. Generally, it is self evident that academic value is more important than market value. Capital investment in the Chinese contemporary art market has its advantages. In the current situation of China, it can help the Chinese contemporary art to free from the authoritative ideology. With the capital assistant, the Chinese contemporary art with the foundations and galleries can gain its academic value.

But the current situation is worrisome, because the Chinese contemporary art is entangled with profit. The different categorization is originated from the problem of the independence of the Chinese contemporary art which is the main problem that artists face.

Faced with the temptation of fame, many people can not stick to his belief. However, it is the serious problems of the local environment that the Chinese contemporary artists should face. Yet, as the year-old artist told me when I visited his studio earlier this year, the tensions and turmoil of recent Chinese history continue to fuel his artwork. Like many artists and intellectuals of his generation, Xu left China shortly after the crackdown in Tiananmen Square.

Throughout history, periods of religious and political repression have provoked an exodus of creative and entrepreneurial talent from various countries—from 17th century Huguenots fleeing France after the king revoked religious freedoms , to 20th century Russian writers evading the Kremlin, to Jewish intellectuals escaping Nazi Germany.

Likewise, many prominent Chinese artists and intellectuals who came of age during the Cultural Revolution later left China to garner fame and fortune abroad. Over the next decade, Chinese artists had much greater access to international news and scholarship, allowing them to take inspiration from a panoply of global art movements.

The s saw the advent of Chinese versions—and subversions—of everything from Renaissance portraiture to Andy Warhol-esque pop art to Dada philosophy.

It was a very experimental time. After this period of relative openness, marked a turning point. Following the crackdown in Tiananmen Square, state-run museums imposed new restrictions on free speech and public art exhibitions. Subsequently, many avant-garde artists and curators left China to form new creative communities abroad, particularly in Sydney, Paris, and New York.

In the United States and elsewhere, legislation in the wake of the massacre made it easier for Chinese citizens to obtain refugee status and work abroad.

But the fact of geographical separation did not constitute psychological detachment for most artists. In fact, something like the reverse occurred.

Zhang moved to the United States in , deeply disillusioned with the propagandist art of the Cultural Revolution. Today another era in contemporary Chinese art is beginning. After two decades in which artists primarily left China, the Middle Kingdom is starting to exert a greater gravitational pull. In recent years, Beijing has stopped enforcing some restrictions on public art displays, and a growing number of regional governments now see creative industries as potential economic engines.

International galleries, meanwhile, are now deliberately showcasing the work of more artists who reside inside China. Indeed, the exhilarating pace of cultural combustion in modern China is even luring some diaspora artists back home. Although he will still maintain a studio in New York, he says he will now spend the majority of his time in China. There are so many multiple cultural layers—it is something really new.

In the context of an emerging market, art is as much a matter of cultural economy as of socio-politics. Thus art is not the product of an independent condition. In its imagination, as well as in its own diversity and its transformations, it encompasses and summarises the changes of a culture which is appropriating the schemes, images and notions inherited both from an age-old tradition and from the West a West which is sometimes in close proximity, as in the case of Muslim Central Asia or Buddhist India.

Artists reinterpret the original meaning in order to arrive at a proclamation of their own difference, which is usually held up as cultural nationalism. In order to understand the evolution of contemporary Chinese art, we will examine some salient facts of artistic life in the country, which was profoundly changed by the reforms initiated by Deng Xiaoping.

These changes have not stopped uniting or dividing the Chinese cultural scene in its relations with a government engaged in a constant search for legitimacy, the guarantor of order, and of an orthodoxy which has been shaken by the economic opening up of the country and by globalisation 1. This enormous and tumultuous mixing, often linked to acute political crises, lies at the source of a huge iconography which exercises its power over successive generations, and reveals itself as the arena of intense rivalries where the most diverse temporalities clash.

One cannot understand, in hindsight, either the emergence of a political and reactionary pop art the critique of mass consumption, the ironic and playful extolling of Maoism… or the popularity of kitsch, without taking into account the irresistible infatuation, in China, with enchantment qiguan , the post-revolutionary sentimentality.

This is, by definition, one of the most anecdotal aspects, and thus the most dated, of a period marked by a sudden acceleration of history. An art of transition, kitsch in its Chinese version, marks the beginning of a concensus established between the government and public opinion about the value of money. Thus art, which was essentially, in China, that of painting and calligraphy, has become a plural phenomenon: The values of painting—linked to those of the scholar and the age-old myth of state culture—on which rest the framework of debate and political choice lead to the definition of new frontiers.

While information—which was scattered from the s onwards—and the transformation of Chinese society do not allow the historian to envisage, for the moment, an all-encompassing analysis, covering all the events which were part of the new languages of art, it does seem possible, however, to focus on the exhibitions and the new artistic professions which created the new face of a society seeking to legitimise both its Chinese identity and its contacts with the outside world.

This exhibition was the result of a collaboration between three art critics: Gao Minglu, who now teaches in the United States, was the editor at the time of the magazine Meishu. Co-founder and editor of Zhongguo meishubao until his resignation in , he remains one of the most influential critics in China. The exhibition expertly summed up the climate of tension which, for several years, had constantly divided the art scene. This is the name given to any exhibition which allows the works to produce their effect on their own, eliminating any rooting of the work, of the criticism, of the institution in a cult.

The event was marked by a performance by Tang Song and Xiao Lu: The exhibition of experimental art goes against the repressive state an expression equivalent to a pleonasm in the case of China, which has never been a liberal state. The clash between these two entities which are opposed in every way an abstract organisation versus a concrete manifestation could only be head-on.

This crisis in art—and in particular in painting and calligraphy, which are considered, in China, to be at the summit of the hierarchy of aesthetic and social values 5 —consisted in fact in the invention of it. Where before there had been no art in the strict meaning of the word, but an object of or for worship, from then on there was art, because a question had been asked about the gesture that founds it. Each exhibition of contemporary art reinvents art by asking again the question of art, of its boundaries, and, a novelty in China, of memorisation, or of what Francis A.

Yates, in a completely different context, called the art of memory, emphasising the value and the anamnestic role of history 6. It took the transformation of an ancient religious art into an exhibition art, before the question of what was religious in it—its aura—could at last be asked. As happened in the United States and in Europe almost forty years ago, the frame, both literally and figuratively, is being shattered before our eyes, shaking up the elements of a visual language which, in the past, had assigned to the visual arts calligraphy and painting and to their supports the guohua scroll, the stretcher for oil on canvas their specificities in terms of domain: They tended to oppose the persistent collusion between state interests and the members of the juries, which is rarely propitious to the development of original creation.

After , exhibitions retreated from the art galleries and the commercial spaces, sometimes to spaces in private houses or in diplomatic compounds. Beginning in , the galleries affiliated to institutions, such as those of the Teacher Training College or the Central Fine Arts Academy, became major sites of experimental exhibition in Peking, mainly because of the open-mindedness shown by the directors of these establishments.

These were not, however, isolated examples. Thus, Guo Shirui, director of the very official Contemporary Art Centre in Peking, began, in , to organise a series of highly important artistic events. With time it became clear that these galleries and the art world in general were subject to the play of competition and to a strategy of modulable discourse which sought to transcend the constraints of government censorship and to seek public and private subsidy.

This competition was at the source of the development of a contemporary art market which began with the first Canton Biennale in October Then came Shanghai , the stakes of which, on the world art scene, were upped by the French art critic Pierre Restany when he presided over the event four years later. The word recalls the variety of meanings, the differentiation and the multiple temporalisation of social phenomena.

The performance and its objects refer us as much to the subject as to the venue, which is to be considered as a site where the work is made, is consulted, is even booed at, and never ceases to build and rebuild itself.

The fact that the work and the exhibition were constantly evolving gave the organisers a variety of ways to circumvent the constraints of censorship, for example by transferring their exhibition from China to one or several foreign countries. It was in the microworld of the experimental exhibition that were developed the newest ideas and the most powerful images, which were less and less often those of painting.

Censorship or self-censorship leading to the cancellation of an event, constituted the symptomatic realities of a culture held in an ideological yoke which continued to exercise a fearsome constraint in the era of Deng Xiaoping. This evolution was accompanied by the emergence of new socio-political categories, centred on the individual and situated on the frontier between the professions of information, of art and of politics. The cultural mediator is a freelance professional who combines several functions.

As this trend developed, not without coming up against real reservations sometimes on the part of the artists themselves who preferred, for career strategies, the exclusive recognition of official circles , the field of artistic experimentation broke up into very diverse groups in the s and then into individuals after on the edges of the system, which increased their dependence on critics, dealers, and on a range of opinion, which was no longer restricted to the conurbations of Peking and Shanghai.

Willingly or not, they were integrated into a micro-society where imagination met the internationalist economy. Virtual processes like the Internet, and other communication media, sometimes had the effect of shifting the attention of the critics and of the public onto the identitarian and even the nationalistic specificity of both the work and its producer.

These successes were undoubtedly linked to the utilisation of the new communication media, which the artists of the new generation ingeniously turned to their advantage. The most remarkable archetype of this new kind of artist was the Pekingese Ai Weiwei. Artist, dealer, gallery owner, collector, publisher, he embodied to an extent previously unequalled, the most diverse functions which correspond to the key axioms of art communication, then still in its infancy.

His way of working and his libertarian attitude made him an artist of a new kind, on the frontiers between the art world, assumed poetic dissidence, commercial opportunism, and scholarly aristocracy.

As the son of the poet Ai Qing, a supporter of the regime, his pedigree opened the doors to a broad social recognition. He chose to attend the Film Institute which reopened in , having been closed because of the Cultural Revolution. But neither the cinema nor China could hold the young Ai Weiwei, and after joining the Xing Xing group, he opted for expatriation in New York.

There, he attended the Parsons School of Design, traded in antiques for a living, and frequented both the museums and the underground, as well as one of his mentors, William Burroughs. His reference in art was and has remained Marcel Duchamp: The scholar, as both man of action and man of letters, was a cultural mediator as well as an essential conveyor of the production and transmission of knowledge.

The artist broke new ground when he suggested to the collectors and dealers Hans Van Dick and Frank Uytterhaegen that they set up a foundation in Peking, The China Modern Art Foundation, of which he is now co-director. This venue exhibits his own works paintings, installations and sculptures , and functions as a venture in social advancement, in keeping with the nature and ambition of artistic marketing on an international scale between Peking and New York.

The craze for contemporary Chinese art was in keeping with a media movement with strong exotic inclinations which first began in eastern Europe, before and especially just after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and which continues to this day. At first it was private initiatives, on the part of art lovers such as the Swiss ambassador Uli Sigg, which attracted the attention of the media.

Then various governments organised, with some difficulty, major retrospectives in Europe, in Australia, in the United States and in Japan. There were few galleries in China until the early s—except for those established in Hong Kong.

The reason for this was the endless harassment and administrative threats faced by the owners of these spaces which were moreover much coveted by artists , most of whom were of foreign origin. These galleries, mostly situated in Peking and Shanghai, nevertheless had a considerable impact, for they set the prices of works of art for those who aspired to an international career 8. This unease encouraged the authorities to adapt the art school system to the norms created by the market.

Structural reforms as well as the overhaul of the training courses for students including work experience in advertising agencies or abroad opened up the art schools to new possibilities.

It followed and accompanied globalisation, and, at the same time, offered resistance by the reinterpretation of a living tradition which was its own, while fundamentally calling into question the structures of the art world inherited from the Maoist period. The rapidly developing economy of China with its population of 1. The collective muteness of Chinese critics leaves our art defenseless on the international stage. How should it revive its culture in this new age? Due to the volatile political system and the abnormal development of consumer culture in China today, the entire society is pervaded by commercialism and utilitarianism.

Their concern is catering to the needs of domestic and overseas art markets and pandering to communication media. There are at least four reasons that justify the assertion of individual values: Regional diversity should always be accounted for in the discussion of individual consciousness and individual values.

Cultural heritage also plays an important role. Regional characteristics are integral to individuality. However, today the ideals of avant-garde art a re facing challenges from two sides. On the one hand there is the seduction of fame and acceptance when entering the circuit of international art. On the other there is the similar seduction when it is accepted by the Chinese official cultural institution.