Laoban Mixing Event report

I just posted a short video to youtube of highlights from last night’s Laoban Mixing event at the Gallery. Unfortunately youtube in it’s wisdom has reduced the quality of the video to “very poor” in the process of compressing the file, so the following is the original (still not great, but better):

It was a good night overall, I had a great time (even though I had to keep reminding myself that I was there to look after the space, and not to enjoy myself). Many people came and seemed to respond well to the performers. As you can see from the video above and the photographs there were some very good sounds and visuals. My thanks go to Jon for organising so much at such short notice, with the help of Matt and Lu, and all their friends who pitched in to help out. I think this shows that an exciting idea can get people energised, even on such a cold night.

Looking ahead, I hope there will more variety in the material in future events, last night was very focused on DJs and VJs. Films and short talks were promised, which would have given more of a conceptual structure to the proceedings and will help prevent it becoming just another club night.

I hope, too, that more women will present their work. Last night the performers were without exception all men – it seemed to be the cliché of boys with their toys (I don’t know maybe this is perhaps a feature of the scene rather than a bug, as they say to excuse some oddity in software). I can’t believe there are no women making material and this would make a valuable contribution to the event.

But this was the first version of the event, and was very much about investigating a format for the future, so I want to see how it develops. The original spec for the night I thought was very exciting and something which had the potential for development into something very strong – and this was one of the reasons why I agreed to go with it. I hope that more of what was originally announced becomes incorporated into future events, as they have the possibility to a) bring together some of the creative communities here in Beijing and China in general which hover round each other but which don’t really get to cross-fertilise so often, and b) make links out from the local to the international creative scenes which all have their representatives here in BJ.

Laoban Soundsystem: Xmas Mixing Event at CPU:798

My friends at the Laoban Soundsystem will be installed in the Gallery tonight presenting their new venture, the Laoban Soundsystem. This is an open invite to all artists, musicians etc. to come along and show off what they are working on. Should be an exciting, energetic evening! Come along and see works in progress.

Laoban Soundsystem 1.0 Holiday Mixing Event at CPU:798

Friday, December 12, 8 PM – 12 Midnight, Free and Open to the Public

We invite all to come out to the launch of version 1.0 of the Laoban Soundsystem for a special Holiday Mixing Event at CPU:798. This is a new type of media event where all are welcome to join, bring media, laptops, video players, cameras, and other recording devices. The goal is to mix media, explore what artists, DJs, musicians, designers, and architects are working on RIGHT NOW — successes, failures, and rough edges are welcome at Laoban events! The ultimate plan is for consumers to be producers by both mixing media, and by tagging any recordings they have with “laoban” when posting onto twitter.com, flickr.com, or other places.

Unbelievable

This is an old post (from April 2008) that for some unknown reason I never got round to publishing. Happy memories!

How was digging up all the roads in 798 at the same time, ever possibly considered a good idea?

It seems that nowhere is safe from the ‘dream’ that is the Olympics. 798 is currently undergoing massive roadworks which seem to be for the installation of a new streetlighting system. This is A Very Good Thing, as after dark 798 was pitch black once you got 5 feet away from a main road. The authorities have decided use this as an opportunity to install new conduits for cables along every street.

I’m beginning to think it’s just as well our new gallery space is currently undergoing renovation and thus closed, because I would be worried about our visitors’ safety (and my own safety) if they were to attempt to locate the gallery. For your viewing pleasure, I hereby present a ‘before’ and ‘after’ shot of the road we are on:

Before

Before

After

After

Michael Yuen announcement notes

Quoted from my gallery’s announcement of a new artist:

CPU:798 is delighted to welcome Michael Yuen to our roster1 of artists. Michael’s work encompasses a plurality2 of media3, and he is already well-known4 in his native Australia for a body of exceptional works making use of light5, sound6 and performance7. With Michael joining CPU:798, we are building on our mission8 to present the most interesting new media9 artists from both inside and outside of China today10.

Over the past few years Michael has divided his time equally between Australia11 and China12, and in both environments13 his works have investigated the nature of public spaces14 and how small events and interventions15 can have large-scale effects16 on those spaces and the people in them.

  1. What would be the appropriate collective noun for this?
  2. Plurality: perhaps plenitude. Or plethora.
  3. ‘New’ media as opposed to ‘traditional’ media.
  4. see his biography
  5. e.g. Flash. Also includes sound as part of the piece.
  6. e.g. Pulse. Also includes light as part of the piece.
  7. e.g. Follow. Developed because of the specific difficulties creating a sound or light piece in an urban environment where the ambient noises and visual clutter would mask the elements of the work.
  8. see statement on website
  9. see note 3
  10. expanding the gallery’s focus out from photography per se
  11. Adelaide
  12. Beijing
  13. How different are they, and how does this manifest itself to the artist and through his work?
  14. Particularly differences in the nature of public spaces. I have never lived in Australia (I visited Sydney once for 3 days), but from my experience from living in China, comparing this to the UK and Europe, the Chinese use their spaces in very particular ways. The spaces may be the same, or in many ways comparable, or completely different, but people here in China occupy them in a very characteristic way. It is a confluence of character (habit, tradition), architecture (in the sense of a human planned external controlling affect on the occupants), environment (a ‘natural’ external affect), and immediate practicality (an internal affect) which all go to suggest what happens there.
  15. sound and light work in this way – materially discrete
  16. an effect is that we experience them as an artwork (something removed from everyday life;or, something like everyday life which makes everyday life suddenly seem strange?). They assert themselves, make themselves known. Distract or attract attention. Trip up, disturb, unsettle.

Notes on the artist Zheng Yunhan

Zheng’s work deals with the relationship between the Chinese people and their landscapes, it’s idealised nature as a site for forming, as man-perfected/adjusted material, a symbolic residue or site of potential for human activity.

His works stem from an investigation of his home town of Jixi, a mining town in NE China. Jixi Research Project, ongoing since 2004, is a documentary-like archive of visual and spoken records of the lives of the people living in this town dominated by mining and the consequences of this industry on their lives and landscape. This piece is presented as a 4-channel projection with interactivity, emphasising the audiences participation in the story telling process.

For Sunflower Project, Zheng commissioned his family and friends to plant a large field of sunflowers in the hills surrounding the town of Jixi. The resulting artwork is an ultra-high resolution composite photograph of this field. On the one side in the distance is Jixi and on the other a memorial marking a mass grave of locals killed by the Japanese Army during the occupation of China during the Second World War. The sunflowers act as physical link between the living and the dead, a route of remembrance, reflecting during their short lives the remains of life and death all around them.