The vernacular terrain : Songzhang Art Museum, Beijing, China

Thomas, Lubi, Danzig, Stephen, Milton Hampe, Benjamin, & Li , Xian Ting (2010) The vernacular terrain : Songzhang Art Museum, Beijing, China. [Exhibition/Event]

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The field was the curation of cross-cultural new media/ digital media practices within large-scale exhibition practices in China. The context was improved understandings of the intertwining of the natural and the artificial with respect to landscape and culture, and their consequent effect on our contemporary globalised society. The research highlighted new languages of media art with respect to landscape and their particular underpinning dialects. The methodology was principally practice-led. ---------

The research brought together over 60 practitioners from both local and diasporic Asian, European and Australian cultures for the first time within a Chinese exhibition context. Through pursuing a strong response to both cultural displacement and re-identification the research forged and documented an enduring commonality within difference – an agenda further concentrated through sensitivities surrounding that year’s Beijing’s Olympics. In contrast to the severe threats posed to the local dialects of many of the world’s spoken and written languages the ‘Vernacular Terrain’ project evidenced that many local creative ‘dialects’ of the environment-media art continuum had indeed survived and flourished. ---------

The project was co-funded by the Beijing Film Academy, QUT Precincts, IDAProjects and Platform China Art Institute. A broad range of peer-reviewed grants was won including from the Australia China Council and the Australian Embassy in China. Through invitations from external curators much of the work then traveled to other venues including the Block Gallery at QUT and the outdoor screens at Federation Square, Melbourne. The Vernacular Terrain catalogue featured a comprehensive history of the IDA project from 2000 to 2008 alongside several major essays. Due to the reputation IDA Projects had established, the team were invited to curate a major exhibition showcasing fifty new media artists: The Vernacular Terrain, at the prestigious Songzhang Art Museum, Beijing in Dec 07-Jan 2008. The exhibition was designed for an extensive, newly opened gallery owned by one of China's most important art historians Li Xian Ting. This exhibition was not only this gallery’s inaugural non-Chinese curated show but also the Gallery’s first new media exhibition. It included important works by artists such as Peter Greenway, Michael Roulier, Maleonn and Cui Xuiwen. ---------

Each artist was chosen both for a focus upon their own local environmental concerns as well as their specific forms of practice - that included virtual world design, interactive design, video art, real time and manipulated multiplayer gaming platforms and web 2.0 practices. This exhibition examined the interconnectivities of cultural dialogue on both a micro and macro scale; incorporating the local and the global, through display methods and design approaches that stitched these diverse practices into a spatial map of meanings and conversations. By examining the contexts of each artist’s practice in relationship to the specificity of their own local place and prevailing global contexts the exhibition sought to uncover a global vernacular. Through pursuing this concentrated anthropological direction the research identified key themes and concerns of a contextual language that was clearly underpinned by distinctive local ‘dialects’ thereby contributing to a profound sense of cross-cultural association. Through augmentation of existing discourse the exhibition confirmed the enduring relevance and influence of both localized and globalised languages of the landscape-technology continuum.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 32335
Item Type: Creative Work (Exhibition/Event)
Refereed: No
Additional Information: please note only a representative cross-section of artits involved in this exhibition have been mentioned in the contribution list - Please visit website for more information and complete artists list.
Other Contributors:
Role Contributors
  • Adad Hannah
  • Ben Hibon
  • Christopher Bennie
  • Ran Cheng
  • Chen Yung-Hsien
  • Jafri Faiyaz
  • Jongbum Choi
  • Jason Nelson
  • Katrina Neiburga
  • Marco Fantini
  • Monika Tichacek
  • Nathalie Grenzhaeuser
Funders: QUT Precincts, Beijing Film Academy, IDAProjects, Platform China Art Institute, Australia China Council, Australian Embassy China
Material: Virtual world design, interactive design, video art, real time and manipulated multiplayer gaming platforms and web 2.0, 2D Digital image
Number of Pieces: Variable - up to 100 works ranging from 2D digital image works through to web 2.0 works
Location: From date: To date:
Songzhang Art Museum, Beijing,China 2007-12 2008-01
The Block QUT Creative Industires Precinct 2007-08 2007-09
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > VISUAL ARTS AND CRAFTS (190500)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > FILM TELEVISION AND DIGITAL MEDIA (190200)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Division of International and Development
Copyright Owner: IDA Projects
Deposited On: 24 May 2010 00:39
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2011 16:12

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