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Dazzling immersion at Beijing’s Today Art Museum

today art museum beijing

The new exhibition, titled .zip FUTURE RHAPSODY XIAOMI – FUTURE OF TODAY is pulling in large visitor numbers to the Beijing’s Today Art Museum.

The new exhibition with the intriguingly long name looks at the evolution of artistic creation, using digital technologies.  It explores how museums can better engage their audience with location-specific experiences given more people today visit virtually via websites and apps.

.zip FUTURE RHAPSODY | XIAOMI · FUTURE OF TODAY takes up three floors of the Today Art Museum’s main building.  It displays 27 videos, installations and works of sound art created by artists from China, the United States, the UK and Turkey.

The international artists include Claude Leveque of France, Catherine Chalmers and Charles Lindsay of the US, and Refik Anadol of Turkey.

Chinese artists include Feng Mengbo, Guo Ruiwen, Hong Qile and Wang Zhipeng.

A 14-meter-high encircled space in the museum’s main hall lies at the heart of the exhibition. It is “a box of black and white”, according to Wu Juehui, who co-curates the exhibition with Yan Yan, the Deputy Director of Today Art Museum.

Nine videos are displayed in rotation while computer-generated images are projected onto two walls and the floor.  This allows the audience to become part of the art – combined with the videos, they form the centrepiece of the exhibition.

The immersive atmosphere inspires visitors to reflect on life without technology and the internet, especially mobile devices.

Digital format artwork

Artworks feature almost all the digital file formats that have been invented – .txt, .jpg, .gif, .mp3 and so on. The exhibition serves as a zip file to compress files into a package and present it to the audience.  Visitors are able to “unzip” one file after another as they progress through the show.

“Every person lives with certain formats they are familiar with, and they have reshaped how people think and act and the ways of existence,” says Wu.  “Maybe in the near future, people will greet each other by asking, ‘What’s your format?'”

The concept of FUTURE OF TODAY started in 2015 with a vanguard exhibition that debated the interaction between a real museum and a virtual one, looking at how art forms will evolve in years to come.

“The “FUTURE OF TODAY” project is a fearless and exciting attempt,” says Alex Gao, director of the Today Art Museum.

The academic advisors are Chinese curator, Huang Du and Philipp Ziegler, Director of the curatorial department of ZKM Media and Art Centre.

Charles Lindsay, director of US SETI A.I.R. Programme, is the international nominator for the exhibition.  “When I took the position to direct Today Art Museum in 2013, two questions kept emerging in my mind,” says Lindsay. “’What will a future art museum look like?’ and ‘What artworks will suit such a museum?’ I haven’t found answers yet although my team will not stop seeking solutions. With persistence, we can embark upon an extraordinary journey to build a museum of the future.”

The Beijing Today Art Museum was founded in 2002.  The exhibition runs through until September 16th 2017.

Image courtesy: Beijing Today Art Museum

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