July 8, 2009 - ArtAsiaPacific - Issue 64 out now
July 8, 2009

Issue 64 out now

Issue 64
Jul/Aug 2009


The last decade has seen a technological re-revolution in Asia. Japan, already among the world’s most technologically advanced nations, ushered in a new era of mobile TV, web-browsing and online game-playing with the first 3G cell phones in 2001. Last year, China surpassed the United States to become the world’s biggest internet user. Meanwhile, India has emerged as a global leader in information technology services, which now accounts for more than 40 percent of its GDP. In the Middle East, Israel stands at the forefront of stem-cell research. As new advances in science reshape society, artists embracing new media have increasingly sophisticated means for perceiving and reinterpreting the world. ArtAsiaPacific‘s July/August issue focuses on artists who use technology to explore new frontiers.

In Features, AAP contributor Olivier Krischer looks at the work of Feng Mengbo, a painter who was one of the first artists to embrace new-media art in mainland China in the early 1990s. Krischer examines Feng’s iconic blend of the virtual violence of first-person shooter games with the aesthetics and iconography of the Cultural Revolution. Also rooted in traditional art practice is Jerusalem’s Romy Achituv, who originally trained in figurative sculpture. Features editor Ashley Rawlings considers how Achituv employs photography and interactive software for his inquiries into marginalized communities.

When media art is not generated by microchips, it grows out of the petri dish, as AAP contributing editor Chin-Chin Yap discovers in the cutting-edge bio-art of SymbioticA. The artistic experiments at the Australian “curiosity-based, non-utilitarian” research lab in the University of Western Australia’s Department of Anatomy and Human Biology include a tiny coat made of living tissue from mouse and human stem cells. Surveying the frontiers of new-media practice in Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and India, New York’s Eyebeam Art + Technology Center executive director Amanda McDonald Crowley hosts a roundtable discussion with artists active in the new-media and interdisciplinary communities. Turning to the Subcontinent, AAP managing editor HG Masters considers New Delhi-based trio Raqs Media Collective‘s examinations of virtual and urban landscapes as they engage with legal theory, open-source software and postmodern literary theory.

In Profiles, AAP focuses on individuals who defy easy categorization. AAP contributor Brian Curtin talks to Paul Pfeiffer, who was born in Hawaii and raised in the Philippines, about his manipulations of mass-media imagery. In Tokyo, contributing editor Michael Young follows Johnnie Walker, the irreverent outsider of the Japanese art world, as he collaborates with Ai Weiwei on a new building for Art Residency Tokyo to commemorate his deceased Irish wolfhound.

The new-media theme runs throughout the issue. In Projects, Japanese video artist Tabaimo tells assistant editor Hanae Ko about how she instills her hand-drawn animations with a captivating sense of unease. For Where I Work, we visit the young Lebanese artist-engineer Ayah Bdeir, who recently debuted her do-it-yourself electronics kit for artists and designers, called “littleBits,” at New York’s Eyebeam Art + Technology Center.

Though Asia has made phenomenal advances in communications technology, censorship still limits the region’s full potential for open channels of dialogue. In a straight-talking opinion piece, Ai Weiwei reflects on the importance of free speech as China marked the 20th anniversary of the protests in Tiananmen Square in early June, and how the internet can offer greater transparency to its citizens.

As technology empowers a growing number of people worldwide, ArtAsiaPacific continues to seek out artists who are leading the digital revolution and making the crucial connections.

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