Real and virtual worlds meet in Chinese artist's new 3-D work


Qiu Anxiong's latest ink animation New Classic of Mountains and Seas III creates a world that blurs the line between virtual and real.

IN his latest 3-D animation work, Chinese artist Qiu Anxiong shows a man in a black suit and an octopusshaped mask fall through a city of skyscrapers. Will he die? No one can tell because the lines between reality and the virtual world have blurred.

It’s a future world created by the video and animation artist for the final episode of his ink animation trilogy New Classic of Mountains and Seas. The Shanghai-based artist spent three years producing his latest work of 25 minutes to discuss people’s confusion and struggle living in a high-tech world, where reality is mixed with the virtual.

The video’s two protagonists, a factory worker who is obsessed with computer games and a city-based designer, seem to live totally separated lives. However, their lives intertwine in the virtual world. In it, they build their own ideal land to avoid the real one — dull and full of glorious facades. In it, they can be immortal because they are reborn, again and again. Who is dead and who is not? The question remains open for the audiences.

“The high-tech aspect of our lives, such as virtual reality, has two sides. They offer us great conveniences but also have a negative side,” says Qiu, 45.

For the young generations growing up in the internet era, the virtual world is their reality, says the artist.

He is sensitive to high-tech and always keeping an eye on problems that come with human application of technology, he says. Since 2005, the artist has been making his ink animation trilogy. The first explores conflicts caused by the energy crisis and the second focuses on crisis brought by astronautics and biotechnology. The second is now at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The name of the trilogy is taken from the ancient Chinese myth book Classic of Mountains and Seas, dating more than 2,000 years ago.

Qiu says he puts what’s happening now into an ancient context, which allows us to see the current society from a distance.

In Qiu’s real-meets-virtual world, everything becomes a living monster. Surveillance cameras on streets are oneeyed flying beasts; garbage trucks are elephant-shaped; treadmills are running wolves. Other things turn into fancy items as human beings change themselves in a virtual world.

For Qiu, the most challenging part is to turn Chinese ink paintings into 3-D animation projects — the former stresses abstraction and imagination while the latter needs things to look as real as possible.

“I have to find a balance between them, to have the spirit of Chinese ink painting while giving it a 3-D presentation,” says Qiu. A sea of clouds in his film,he says, is a good example of such balance.

He was born in Sichuan province and went to Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in Chongqing, a mountainous city. In 1998, he went to Art University Kassel. His works back then were paintings, especially oil paintings. During his stay in Germany, he sought inspiration from traditional Chinese culture, like ink paintings, and moved ahead in his career.

“From a distance I realized the beauty of my culture, where I truly belong. I read lots of books on traditional culture, such as Taoism and Buddhism,” says Qiu of his turning back to ink from oil.

He drew everything in his film, which was a huge amount of work. In his latest show at Beijing’s Boers-Li gallery, his sketchbooks and ink paintings for the film are being displayed.

The city he creates is also a combination of reality and imagination. It’s not hard to find cities like Shanghai or Chongqing in his video. A train running through a tall building is from Chongqing while some of the skyscrapers are from Shanghai.

“The time of the world I created is unknown, maybe the future or maybe the apocalypse. It’s all about magic realism,” he says.

The 3-D ink animation is described by the artist as the keynote work in his career.

While being a teacher with the design school of the East China Normal University in Shanghai, he says he will keep exploring this kind of art form and write science fiction in future as well as produce related installations and mixedmedia works.

If you go
Noon-6 pm through April 16; Boers-Li Gallery, 798 Art Zone, 2 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang district, Beijing; 010-6432-2620

By: Deng Zhangyu

Source: China Daily Hong Kong Edition


East China Normal University