press release

(I). The New Century of Digital Fiction

The greatest human cultural accomplishment of the last century was the immersion of our lives in a digitized environment. Everything from the alarm clock that wakes us up in the morning to the microwave oven that prepares our breakfast, the elevators that take us up and down our buildings, the cars we drive, the trains and airplanes that we ride on, all depend on electronic gauges and digital systems. The list goes on and on: radios, washing machines, drying machines, audiovisual equipment, hot plates, burglar alarms, automatic sprinkler systems, signaling devices, central air conditioning systems, computer hardware and software etc. Without realizing it, everything we do—including eating, dressing, staying at home, and moving about—is already deeply dependent on digital technology.

The computer is replacing the human brain in performing many tasks such as recording, organization, calculation, transmission and communication, to the extent that many systems can continue to operate without any “human” presence. Furthermore, the appearance of the Internet means that human communication channels no longer depend on tangible written letters or face-to-face encounters. The boundaries between our virtual world on the web and the real world that we sense with our physical bodies are becoming harder and harder to distinguish inside our digitized environments.

Inevitably, digitized environments are becoming our inescapable living spaces. The scope of digital applications can only widen, the variety of products increase, so naturally their influence can only grow. Therefore, the influence of digitization and cybernetics on our living environment is not only ubiquitous, but also inescapable. Since human cognition and feeling in the digitized environment of the new century cannot resist being immersed in the struggle between “virtual” and “real,” it is becoming impossible to prevent the imperceptible formation of new cognitive and appreciation systems out of our aesthetic experience. These systems such as cartoons, animation, games, and Internet transmissions have already become very distinctly separated from traditional standards of criteria.

The young generation of this era grew up alongside the data of material and consumer culture. Immersed from childhood in the world of animated art, their longings and fantasies about personal relationships and feelings of interaction were inspired by the fictive roles they saw in animations, comic books, cartoons, movies, and advertisements. Video games and on-line gaming influence children in imitating the loves and hates of the adult world. The new generation’s collective imagination in on-line chat-rooms goes around the world through the Internet, and because of the instantaneous nature of the communication, national, ethnic and linguistic differences are reduced, as are the distances in people’s imagination and psychology, though the actual geographical distance of course remains.

For example, Finland’s name brand Nokia has united ten of the world’s most renowned artists, Aberg, Osmo Rauhala, Stefan Lind fors, Nam June Paik, William Wegman, Juha Hemanus, Brian Alfred, David Salle, Louise Bourgeois, and Sari Kaasinen to invest in Nokia’s Connect to Art Project. Having their first public release in Shanghai, Nokia invites its audience to download this new technology for free during the exhibition.

The self-identity of the new generation is also constantly changing due to its endless interactive role-playing games (RPGs) constructed in cyberspace. Romance can also be conducted in ritualized forms in a virtual environment, while the colorful human imagination enriches the role-playing. Artists no longer have unique status as creators, since everyone basically has the opportunity to act out a role. As virtual love in all its turbulence rolls through the Internet world, complex emotional states and feelings that are generated by the difficulty of distinguishing what’s real and what’s fiction will certainly affect the new generation’s path of creative development.

(II). The New Visual and Emotional Appeal of Contemporary Art Museums in the New Century

This aesthetic concept based on 20th Century modernism has led some experts and scholars of art education, as well as some art museums and other related organizations to persist in the belief that art should be different from popular culture, that is, art should emphasize the specialty of individualism to differentiate it from the popular culture that belongs to the public. Therefore, contemporary art becomes a ritual behavior by a small group of people in the art world. Some forms of art that are recognized by a select few in the art world have no special effect upon the masses, let alone attract them. Contemporary art has become a social game between elite groups, an arbitrary area less and less friendly, and one that has been losing public concern and participation.

In our century, the competition between art museums and amusement parks will be unavoidable. Although some cultural elites might think that such an unorthodox, crosscutting comparison is unacceptable because it would vulgarize art, art is constructed on life’s amusements—or perhaps it would be better to say that it is in game culture that the essence, the sublime of various kinds of art is nurtured. Gaming is a kind of consumer behavior that many in the middle class have engaged in to an unprecedented degree in the history of civilization. While the new generation immerses itself in it and develops a taste for it, the aesthetic that develops out of it will quickly spread around the globe through the Internet and various communication media, and it will not be something that the self-appointed elite minority in artistic circles will be able to guide or control.

Whereas art in history has always been considered something that records the high-quality lifestyle and taste exclusive to the upper classes or a small elite, we have now entered an era when the middle class enjoys a broadened flow of information, so the phenomenon of exclusivity has come under challenge. Meanwhile, the limitless desire of consumers to possess exquisitely designed commodities steadily adds pressure upon the aesthetic of the exquisite that was once the sole prerogative of the upper class. The status distinction between the creative artist and the designer is gradually blurring. Meanwhile, the creative production system is gradually developing from the individual studio to the interactive group, and sometimes it has even assumed the form of a corporation that runs international production lines. Artists’ modes of production are gradually becoming like those of designers, but this does not mean that artists working in isolated independence are vanishing entirely—instead it means that making a living will get more difficult for creative artists working outside the system, and outside of organizations or communication networks. Facing the new changes in the artistic and creative environment, the exhibitions and curatorial decisions made by contemporary art museums will also be affected.

The “white box” space of traditional museums, where art pieces are placed on walls under spotlights, demands that the audience must quietly move about in the exhibition space and observe the artworks piously as if these pieces are completely out of their reach. This philosophy has been the primary basis for over a century of art and fine art museums all over the world. Fiction@Love intentionally trespasses the guidelines set by the “white box” mentality, utilizing sheer the number and volume of visual signals to trigger an emotional and visual breakthrough from its audience. In this explosive century of information and information technology, this must be the new direction of art museum development. From the waves of sound music emitted by the displayed artworks, to the flashing lights and iridescent colors of the museum environment, the exhibition seeks to overwhelm viewers with large quantities of visual and audio signs, generating an atmosphere of inescapable excitement and unpredictability. The exhibited pieces emphasize or encourage interaction between the works and the audience, so that viewers can satisfy their curiosity, and creatively become part of the museum experience by examining or even by playing with the projected images themselves, just as they would in an arcade or an amusement park.

(III.) The Neo-Aesthetics of Animamix in the 21st Century

Following the development of present-day digital technology, the forms of cartoons, comics, and animated films have become much more complex, and their distribution channels much more diverse. All kinds of simplified visual forms have become visual symbols, transmitted in large quantities, and they comprise the separate systems of identity for different cultures and regions. As these continue to transmit, they take root and become bits of the code with which youth cultures from around the world communicate. No longer are they parts of the collective identity of a single era or single ethnic group. Instead, they are like the communication channels through which people seek to express and convey their thoughts or simulate and recreate what fires their imaginations.

The popularity of Animamix Art (Animation + Comics), under the influence of the rapidly self-renewing digital environment, creates fast and unique permutations in visual codes. These codes, which increase exponentially, generate a new digital image dimension that can be named the Neo-Aesthetics of Animamix. These visual codes are rapidly proliferating, and they are no longer limited to reproducing narrative text. These constantly metamorphosing visual forms are already getting very close to the visual language that pure art aims to express. Artists, designers, cartoonists, animators, and illustrators of the new generation have grown up in identical environments. Even their educational backgrounds are quite similar. Their aesthetic tastes in life are broadly influenced by popular culture. Artists of the new generation view forms such as cartoons, comics, and animations as options in a composite media environment. They have gone beyond the rigid impressions that society may once have had toward these visual forms, and they freely draw from them, reflect them in their own lives, and imbue them with a deeper layer of textual meaning.

The high-speed production of novel, unusual visual forms being put out in the digital environment not only gives rise to the new generation’s passwords to what is fresh and new but also blends into the essential formal vocabulary of popular commercial products. They become the symbolic codes or passwords for trendy, fashionable goods. This never-ending quest among today’s young people to transform popular culture and make it new through artistic creation has itself changed, from a quest for individualistic “originality” in the previous century to a kind of play with the visual codes of “ultra new vision.” Fresh sensory stimulation is more important than formal creativity. Creative artists of the new generation frequently process visual codes with interactive techniques, so that the information cross-flow between viewers and creators resembles a game full of undefined variables.

Therefore, artists no longer monopolize identity and authority of their creations. In role-playing, since everyone has opportunities to participate. Since the previous century, the numerous cute forms and characters shown in cartoons, animations, and comics, highly colorful and illustrative paintings, and fantasy have deeply impressed themselves in children’s minds. These visual symbols have become integral parts of each generation’s collective memories of the growing process. Originally the images produced by Disney or Warner Brothers in the US took the lead in mass culture. However, at the end of the 20th century, popular culture from Japan gradually caught up to their lead, and now that we have entered the 21st century, we can clearly see what an incredibly powerful force it has developed in young Asian people’s sense of identity.

A new game culture, a part of the highly colorful new aesthetic, is forming, and it is all part of the “new and unusual” being explored in “Fiction.Love—Ultra New Vision in Contemporary Art.” This exhibition affords an opportunity to display, compare, discuss and do further research on phenomena associated with the new aesthetic, using as examples the works of these contemporary Western and Eastern artists. The Neo-Aesthetics of Animamix as displayed by the current exhibit will be the definitive new key word created from the Asian perspective, to characterize this new visual trend that continuously seeks change, renewal, and innovation.

The Pop artists of the 1960s seem to have anticipated the arrival of mass culture and the era of virtual reality. Through constant appropriation and copying, the comics and cartoons that they constantly “downloaded” from popular culture became sampled texts, the foundations of identity for a certain generation or a certain group.

The neo-artists representing and displaying animamix elements in the 21st century have shown in their creations that, rather than the issue of appropriation from popular culture, it is instead the works themselves that have completely blended into the characterizing aesthetics of animamix art. The emerging animamix aesthetics have appeared in all fields of art in this new century. Unlike the Pop artists of the last century who only directly appropriate the visual symbols of animamix art, these seemingly animamized styles are the archetypes of artists’ creation.

The characteristics of the ultra new vision of 21st century animamixes are displayed in four directions: first, the worship of aesthetics of youth; second, the rich narrative texts in animamix aesthetics; third, the Ultra New Vision of colored light; fourth, the aesthetics of applied arts driven by the animamix industry.

The abundant diversified animamix images in popular culture, whether human figures or animal characters, are all forms that will never glow old. For example, Disney’s Mickey Mouse is already 75 years old, yet it is still as lovely as it was at its creation and has been loved by children of different generations. However, celebrities who were famous 75 years ago, even if they are still alive, must live in different situations with totally different appearances. The Animamix Age’s collective memory of ageless images, under subtle influences, has formed the aesthetics of youth in the new age of the 21st century. The last 100 years have not only greatly influenced creation, but also deeply affected the aesthetic concept of the public.

The pursuit of an idealized beauty of youth is no longer the problem of the characterization of virtual figures in animations, cartoons or comics. Instead, it has become the psychological goal to realize the beauty of artificial ideals in real life. Although Europe and America had an early start in cosmetology, nowadays Asia, especially countries with developed animamix cultures such as Japan and Korea, has embraced the popularity of artificial cosmetology and has gone far beyond the development in Europe and America. Today, because of the irresistible trend of anti-aging, more and more people want to keep a young and ageless appearance. Man or woman, old or young, can all find a reason to walk into surgery. The pursuit of the beauty of artificial characters is, of course, made possible by science and technology and led by media images.

The aesthetics of animamix art, led by the U.S. and Japan in the last century, was full of strange and changeable narrative texts that gave the display of images themselves a strong narrative character. Think of modern art that appeared at the end of the 19th century—it developed towards the abstract style at the beginning of the last century. Even literary works that give priority to narrative language cannot avoid showing off the abstract nature of connotations and structure, which made it harder to distinguish the panoramic meaning of the words.

Yet under the digitalized environment of the 21st century, the changes to the narrative environment have become even more interesting. More and more information will be communicated and exchanged via imaged language. Therefore, sometimes even in a small image symbol, there exists all layers of textural meanings such as hypothesis, imagination, legend and metaphor. The personified characters in cartoons, animations and comics, and the exaggerated aesthetics of transformation evolved as a result of combining with narration, and thus will become the mainstream of the aesthetics of characterization in this century--just as Abstract Art lead the aesthetics of the 20th century.

In the last century, electric media acted as the media of image broadcasting. Colorful lights are released as sounds flow and abound in space. This is a means of expression that equals the way of painting with pigment on canvas. The common experience of humans in this new century is that children of different races and different nations all grow up in front of the television and the computer. The information they receive, the images they see, are usually visual experiences of colored lights formed by electricity. Such a florid aesthetics of colored lights has a very deep influence on artists’ usage of color in their works.

Electronic media of the previous century served as the carriers for the transmission of images: the release, flow, and filling-out of colored rays of light in space were an equivalent means of expression to applying pigments on canvas with a brush. In this century, the art of colored light will enhance a trend in this century. The new generations growing up in the digital environment are already familiar with the reception or retrieval of images on the screen. In the visual realm, the feeling and reaction to colored light and light dot images are naturally very different from those in response to colors and graphics synthesized by color powder and printed ink. Therefore, what is seen on the screen are fluorescent colors or contrastive color dots, which are then put together to form a splendid and dazzling color vision. Such marvelous colorful visual effects are one of the distinct features of this Ultra New Vision.

While traditional art creation can be independently finished in a small workshop, the formation of animamix art often needs professional division of labor and a team spirit, which always involves a great amount of human, material and financial resources. Therefore, cross-industry integration is a unique phenomenon of animamix culture. For example, the derivatives brought by American and Japanese animamix industries have covered almost all aspects of life, from clothes and food to accommodation and transportation. So, the value of animamix industry is not just in the animamix art itself. It is a summary of the culture in one age, reflecting regional language styles, global aesthetic tastes, historical cultural frames, human mentality, and social relationships of the collective and the individual. The production mode of the new generation’s artists is becoming more and more similar to the creation process of designers and animators. Also, the identity difference between art creators, designers and animators is blurring. The birth and realization of ideas have also transformed from personal workshop to interactive team, even taking the form of corporations to implement international production lines.

The growing public popular culture is actually embedded in the enjoyment of life, or to be more exact, in the culture of material enjoyments, such as trendy taste, essence of beauty and sublimation of different aesthetics in life styles. There hasn’t been a greater consumer population of art in the history of humankind as there is now. This kind of unprecedented consumer culture then nurtures the global trends of “pursuing the new,” “pursuing celebrity.” Today’s consumers, therefore, rave for the aesthetics that popular cultures have given to the new generation.

Such aesthetics in contemporary life styles will soon flood the world via the Internet and different media.

(IV). Conclusion

The human emotions of the 21st century, in a fictive environment, develop and mature under multiple rituals and behaviors.

The interaction between reality and virtual reality will illuminate incredible and colorful imaginations to enrich each individual’s role-playing. The aesthetics of the new century as brought by comics interacts with real emotion in the virtual world and cultivates the aesthetic taste of a new generation, from bright and colorful lights of digitalized images to fast changeable forms. With metaphors and humorous content, these spectacular visual effects, rising in Asia, are showing the position of virtual beauty in life.

Fiction @ Love, with its dazzling imagination that originated from Animamix art, is surging ahead so vigorously that it will inevitably become one of the major routes of art’s future development. Nowadays in Asia, any exhibit related to cartoon or animation always attracts thousands of viewers. Artists in the 21st Century will step out of the ivory tower of pure art and high art to act as the Creative Directors of the future and conduct cross-field reorganization of resources. The creation and marketing of art will be part of the global creative industry. Compared with public popular art, there will be no high or low art. Therefore, the ultra new vision of the neo- aesthetics as promoted by animamix industry will be a breakthrough topic of the general cultural environment in the new century.

Therefore, by means of the dialogue between Animamix art and contemporary art, the exhibit hopes to present a new aesthetic view that originated from Asia and outside Western Art, to explore the developing direction of the contemporary art at the beginning of the 21st century, and increase the number of viewers of contemporary art museums.


only in german

Kurator: Victoria Lu

China: Cao Fei, Chen Changwei, Chen Fei, Cheng Shiqin, Jimmy Day, Gao Xiaowu, Han Yajuan, Hung Tunglu, King Fenhua, Li Hui, Li Shan, Liang Binbin, Lin Jiunting, Liu Ding, Liu Jianhua, Liu Wei, Luo Hui, Pan Zhenju, Qian Gang, Qu Guangci, Sui Jianguo, Shi Jindian, Tu Hongtao, Wang Gongxin, Wang Zhiyuan, Yang Jing, Yang Maolin, Zhang Gong, Zhang Kexin, Zhao Zhen
Japan: Megumi Akiyoshi, Yoshitaka Amano, Chiho Aoshima, Matsuura Hiroyuki, Naoki Koide, Akino Kondoh, Tomoko Konoike, Yayoi Kusama, Kaneda Shouichi, Yoko Toda / Masayuki Sono, Yoshihiro Sono, Ai Yamaguchi
Nokia Connect to Art Project: Kati Aberg, Brian Alfred, Louise Bourgeois, Juha Hemanus, Sari Kaasinen, Stefan Lindfors, Nam June Paik, Osmo Rauhala, David Salle, William Wegman
Korea: Soonja Han, Soyoun Jeong, Ki Soo Kwon, Dongi Lee, Minkyu Lee, Kyung Won Moon
USA: Sang-ah Choi, Phyllis Green, Huang Shih-chieh, Nathaniel Lord, Thaddeus Strode,
Singapur: fFurious, Claire Lim, Joanne Lim, Lim Shing Ee, Zul Zero
Dänemark: Rasmus Bjorn, Triene Bosen, Julie Nord
Indien: Pushpamala N.  & Clare Arni, Pamela Singh
UK: Anthony Gross, Lisa Milroy, Fiona Rae Swag
Deutschland: Manuela Hartl, Kanjo Take
Belgien: Wim Delvoye
Kanada: Christy Chu
Neuseeland: Hye Rim Lee