January 16th through April 12th, 2015
Opening reception: Friday January 16th, 5-7pm.
“alias: aaajiao” marks the first solo exhibition with the gallery of the widely exhibited young Chinese media artist Xu Wenkai. Based in Shanghai and working under the vague and comical internet alias of aaajiao, the artist will be presenting a body of new and commissioned works, which measure the new dimension of high technology and media-based works, and address the issues derived from contemporary living with Internet and digital technology. The exhibition runs from January 16th through March 8th, 2015, with a series of events and presentations to take place on and off line. The artist will be present at the opening reception on Friday January 16th, 5-7pm.
As the title suggests, “alias: aaajiao” highlights an intense sci-fi aspect of aaajiao’s recent projects that re-imagines the capacity and direction of technology and pictures the future of human living and physical transformation through evolving notion of time and space, which has been subjects of films and many other pop culture products in the past two years. The centerpiece of the show “Karesansui” (2015) is a site-specific sculpture that borrows its title from Japanese Dry Landscape also known as the Rock Garden. Created by his algorithm and made of sponges that look as firm as rock, “Karesansui” presents an unsettling dystopian scenery of numerous pitch-black mutant limbs that grow out of the gallery’s floors, walls, and stairway, sprawling all over and competing with each other. Another set of sculptures “Anomaly” (2015)—produced in technique and material identical to “Karesansui” but in the shape of meteors—celebrates the classic beauty of dark imagination of bio and physical mutation that has been frequent to the sci-fi cinema and visual representation.
Having collaborated with a team of media artist, designer, programmer and engineer, aaajiao has been challenging the complexity of digitized still-life and landscape works. “Obj. 3″ and “Obj. 4″ (both made in 2014), two video portraits of stones on miniature screens, introduced a new dimension of time and space to a classic and painterly composition. “Limited Landscape, Unlimited” is an on-going series that explores the geologic evolution, by visualizing the ever-changing landscape through his algorithmic study and digital rendering. The project includes a video showcasing infinite possibilities of geologic formation, a set of photographs of pixelized land, and a maglev installation featuring a sculpture prototype spinning in the air.
On the third floor of gallery will be a commissioned new project, in which aaajiao has invented his own methodology to investigate the invisible physical operation of meridian system (in Chinese herbal medicine and philosophy). He incorporates the contemporary Fractal Theory and computer algorithm in his research to trace the energy channels and points within human body, transplanting this internal micro universe into tattoo patterns and gallery space. A variation of the presentation will also be on view in gallery’s booth in forthcoming Frieze Art Fair New York.
Actively online as a media artist, blogger, activist and programmer, aaajiao is the virtual persona of Shanghai-based artist Xu Wenkai, whose offline practices include a celebrated entrepreneur of co-working projects Xindanwei—that tested a new way of living and working nomad in cosmopolitan Shanghai—and an inspiring teacher of New Media art. Born in 1984 in one of China’s oldest cities Xi’an, aaajiao’s art and works are marked by a strong dystopian awareness—his year of birth being the synonym of Orwell’s classic allegory novel—and literati spirits and sophistication. Many of aaajiao’s works speak to new thinking, controversies and phenomenon around Internet, with specific projects focusing on the processing of Data, the blogsphere and China’s Great Fire Wall. Aaajiao’s recent projects extend his practice to various disciplines (architecture, electronic music, performance, product design, medicine, among many others) to take the pulse of a young generation consuming cyber technology and living in social media.
Aaajiao’s work has been featured in numerous exhibitions around the world, for instance, “Thingworld: International Triennial of New Media Art”, The National Art Museum of China, Beijing (2014); “Pandamounium”, Media Art from Shanghai, Momentum, Berlin (2014); The West Bund Architecture and Contemporary Art Biennale, Shanghai (2013); “One World” Exposition—Chinese Art in the Age of the New Media, Videotage, Hong Kong (2011); Transmediale, Berlin (2010), etc. He received the Jury Prize from Art Sanya Awards 2014 and was nominated for the first edition of OCAT—Pierre Huber Art Prize in 2014.
Concurrently a selection of aaajiao’s recent works are also on view in two museums in Shanghai: “Cosmos—Limited and Limitless, Existence and Co-existence”, 21st Century Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai and “The Truth About Entropy”, OCAT Contemporary Art Terminal Shanghai, Shanghai.
The artist and the gallery wish to thank Fan Shisan, Liu Xiaoguang, Nara, Shen Lei, Xu Cong and many others for their collaborations in various projects.