Miao Xiaochun creates and builds virtual worlds for twenty years, unlimited in size, perspective and imagination. Populated by strange cybernetic beings, stripped of every habit, character or expression, these universes superimpose the images of the great classics of Western art with futuristic, highly urbanized and technologically technologized settings.
Miao Xiaochun was born in 1964 in Wuxi, China. He studied in Nanjing University, Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts and Kassel Kunsthochschuke in Germany. He currently lives and works in Beijing, where he teaches at the Department of Photography and Digital Art at the Central Academy of Fine Arts. His works have been widely exhibited around the world.
1964 Born in Wuxi, Jiangsu, China
1989 Graduated from the China Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) with MA Degree
1999 Graduated from the Kunsthochschule Kassel, Germany with MA Degree
Actually professor at CAFA, works and lives in Beijing
La Galerie Paris-Beijing annonce l’exposition personnelle de Miao Xiaochun, le pionnier de l’art digital en Chine.
Echo dévoile ses œuvres les plus récentes, un ensemble de peintures et animations en 3D qui se correspondent les unes les autres et qui explorent les interfaces entre le réel et le virtuel, l’humain et le numérique, la culture et la technologie.
Professeur à l’Académie centrale des Beaux-Arts de Pékin, Miao Xiaochun crée et construit depuis vingt ans des univers virtuels, illimités dans leur taille, perspective et imagination.
Peuplés d’étranges êtres cybernétiques, dépouillés de tout habit, caractère ou expression, ces univers superposent les images des grands classiques de l’art occidental à des décors futuristes hautement urbanisés et technologisés.
Restart, animations en 3D réalisée entre 2008 et 2010, réussit à combiner un grand nombre de références artistiques et architecturales dans une vidéo de moins de 14 minutes.
Le scénario macabre des tableaux de Pieter Bruegel (Le Triomphe de la Mort, La Chute des Anges Rebelles, Margot la Folle) laisse la place aux fresques de Raphaël (Le Parnasse, L’Ecole d’Athènes) clairement reconnaissables dans leur reconstruction et réinterprétation numérique. L’œuvre, séduisante et troublante, évoque le mythe irrésolu d’Eros et Thanatos et soulève le thème du malaise d’une civilisation ultradéveloppée, où les technologies confondent les désirs et les pulsions des hommes. Sorte d’avatars sans chair, les figures humaines de Restart sont réduites à leur essence mathématique, mais semblent garder un lien émotionnel et atavique au monde sensible.
Dans une même ambiance, l’œuvre Disillusion (2009-2011) représente l’imagerie sacrée de la culture chrétienne, de l’arche de Noé à la Pitié, en passant par le Jugement Dernier. En mêlant l’éclat des peintures religieuses anciennes aux thèmes diaboliques de la science-fiction, Miao Xiaochun construit un univers artistique transfiguré, où des tableaux qui nous sont familiers rejoignent l’imagination apocalyptique de notre existence future.
Dans Limitless (2011-2012) et Samsara (2013) Miao Xiaochun explore les thèmes de la Genèse et du cycle perpétuel de la vie, toujours en mixant histoire, culture, technologie et images d’un monde visionnaire.
L’exposition associe les œuvres vidéo de Miao Xiaochun à ses peintures en grand format qu’y font écho pour leurs sujets et leur esthétique. Définies comme beaucouq. peintures algorith- miques par le critique Wang Chunchen, elles représentent des images virtuelles que l’artiste obtient grâce à une technique très particulière exploitant le dysfonctionnement d’un logiciel 3D.
L’installation monumentale Microcosm (2008) est emblématique des thèmes et démarches de l’artiste. Ici, Miao Xiaochun fait dialoguer peinture classique et iconographie numérique pour réinventer le chef d’œuvre de Jérôme Bosch, Le Jardin des Délices.
Microcosm décline le triptyque de Bosh en neuf panneaux correspondant à autant de perspec- tives obtenues grâce à une transposition en trois dimensions du tableau original.
Le spectateur peut ainsi se déplacer librement autour et à travers la structure enchevêtrée de l’œuvre en parcourant la vision du Paradis, de la Terre et de l’Enfer du point de vue d’un homme nu, anonyme et anhistorique, répliqué à l’infini et à l’identique dans cette version cybernétique des allégories du monde.
Miao Xiaochun was born in Wuxi, Jiansu Province, China, in 1964. He has graduated from Nanjing University, the Central Academy of Fine Art, Beijing and Kunsthochschuke Kassel, Germany. He currently lives in Beijing.
Miao Xiaochun creates expansive photographic works that document the realities of contemporary Chinese cities and affirm the relationship between the inhabitants and the constructed spaces. He also uses digital technology to create entirely new conceptual worlds, often as 3D animations. As an artist he has made a conscious choice to use contemporary tools, however, he retains his belief in the traditional concepts and aesthetic principles of Chinese art.
Miao Xiaochun is an artist with a diverse practice. He creates painting, sculptural installations, photography and 3D animations. He has an extensive studio with a number of assistants who are closely supervised by the artist. Miao is directly involved in all the processes. Working with assistants allows the artist to create works of enormous scale and depth, extending the scope of the work as he can direct his assistants to complete the time consuming processes of 3D rendering, digital enhancement and the minute detail of painted surfaces. It also allows the artist to devote his time to the conceptual development of his extensive projects.
In Miao Xiaochun’s studio – an assistant working on computer 3D rendering
Photography, for Miao Xiaochun, is the best way to reflect China’s changes. There are three major bodies of work that scrutinise contemporary Beijing. “Beijing Index” and “Beijing Hand Scroll” were created 2007-2009 and an earlier the series “New Urban Reality” was created 2003-2007.
“Await”, 2005, from the “New Urban Reality” series shows people at the bus and railway station, waiting and looking out across the void, a mass of anonymous shoppers and commuters caught in time by the camera, watched over by a giant billboard advertising Motorola phones. The mobile phone is the perfect symbol for aspiring middle class of China. This is a constructed image made up of numerous pieces stitched together digitally to produce an enormous final work six metres long. In a gallery space the work demands a closer viewing in order to scan the detail, especially the disengaged faces, or to walk past the work taking in the scene in a similar way to the viewing of a traditional panoramic scroll. Miao Xiaochun has created a representation of the new consumer society in China, one that is driven by the need for Western goods, fashion and technology.
In the work above, “Surplus”, Miao photographs one of Beijing’s famous traditional restaurants alongside a modern nightclub, both lit by the artificial lighting of the venues. He compares the changing times of Beijing in this quintessential image. The dumpling restaurant is filled with people consuming numerous plates of food, while the footpath in front of the nightclub is crowded with people queuing to enter. The large scale of the work allows the audience to see all the detail, even the faces of the people in the restaurant. The title “Surplus” reflects the dramatic changes in the 1990s in the market economy resulting in more individuals with disposable incomes and general wealth. This work is also a composite of many photographs stitched together to create the final work. It represents many hours on the computer to construct an image that represents the scene so effectively. The detail shows a group of people at the restaurant singing, eating and drinking.
In “Beijing Hand Scroll”, 2007 – 2009, Miao Xiaochun has used a 360-degree camera to capture panoramas of Beijing streets. The camera used is a film-based camera that rotates to produce the 360-degree image. The resulting format is very similar to the traditional hand scroll.
From Miao Xiaochun’s artist statement:
“Hand scrolls are not suitable for public exhibition, but they are very suitable for private observation: one can scroll it open slowly and enjoy every detail. The most famous hand scroll in history is obviously Qingming Festival Along the River. This long scroll of 25 cm in width and 529 cm in length depicts a city in a detailed and vivid manner. No hand scroll can surpass this achievement.
There is no way that we can use this way of observation and depiction nowadays to represent a city; we don’t have that kind of scrutiny and patience anymore. Maybe it is because we have other new media and new possibilities; these possibilities include photographs, videos and computers. If I take a picture with a special round-shot camera, then I can get an extremely long image; after computer software processing and mounting, a scroll is made. This way I can have all the fun of enjoying hand scrolls again. This kind of hand scroll is obviously very different from traditional hand scrolls. It is not a macro overlooking view, yet it is very truthful and meticulous; it is not as concise and embracing that one scene can represent many aspects of our lives, but it is able to cover all aspects that at least 100 scenes can represent 1 perspective. Therefore, I’m determined to make a vast and voluminous work with countless scrolls to represent a city like Beijing in order to compare with Qingming Festival Along the River in a respectful way because it fascinates me with its completeness and vividness.”
This work has been exhibited in two very different ways. Miao printed the digital files that resulted from the scanned film onto rice paper. A waterproof pigment-based ink was used so that the rice paper could be mounted traditionally with rice starch glue onto silk to make the hand scroll. To view the scroll, sections are unrolled from right to left, then re-rolled, showing one scene at a time to tell the story.
Miao has also exhibited this work as a series of eight digital screens placed side by side, which match sections of the panoramic image. The composite scene changes to reveal the full extent of the work.
“Beijing Hand Scroll” depicts the crowded intersections, street markets, alleyways in the hutongs and the high-rise developments. The images have all been manipulated, de-saturated to almost monochrome and softened to give a timeless quality. The figures gently blend into the streetscape. The extent of this work is vast and truly amazing. The viewer can look into the lives of ordinary Beijing residents, a huge communal narrative from a vast city.
Miao talks about his method:
“We first took a photo with a 360 degree camera, which creates very long photos. Then we scanned them in and reworked them on the computer with software. The final product looks like a traditional painting but in fact everything was created on the computer. I think in ancient times they used brushes and ink to do their painting, but today we use a mouse and a computer. These are the brush and ink of our time. We should find out what the possibilities of these new materials are.”
In Miao Xiaochun’s work, “Beijing Index”, 2007-2009, he also uses a 360-degree camera. For this work, Miao Xiaochun took a map of Beijing and drew gridlines. He took a photograph at every intersection on the grid.
The panoramic format of these photographs gives a wonderful peripheral view of sites that normally would not be photographed for their aesthetic appeal in any way. The images are not manipulated away from reality and reveal Beijing in all its different facets. Miao Xiaochun has devised a method that allows him to select a site based on the grid without choosing to include or discard particular content. It shows Beijing in a very real sense, the overpasses and areas of construction, the new and the old. The scale of the work is again massive with hundreds of images representing the intersections of the grid.
From an Art Radar interview, Miao reflects:
“After I finished this project, it was very strange. I thought, Beijing looks like this? Normally when you think of Beijing, you think of the Bird’s Nest [Olympic Stadium], Tiananmen Square or the CCTV Tower…. Some of the images of Beijing are very normal, not so beautiful. If I had not done this project, I would have never taken photos of such places. I realised that this is the real Beijing.”
The distortions in the photographs are caused by the panning nature of the 360-degree camera as it sits on a tripod to a fixed height. The ends of the frame join to complete the view. The grid encompasses the inner city as well as the outskirts of the city. There are 600 images in the work.
Miao Xiaochun also creates 3D animated and projected works that are constructed using computer technology and are at the cutting edge of new media. In his work, “The Last Judgement in Cyberspace”, Miao Xiaochun appropriates Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel fresco, as a metaphor for the sins of development and consumerism in present day China. Miao has built a virtual model of the “Last Judgement” by replacing each of the 400 figures in the original with his own sculptured form. The silvery figures are modelled on Miao’s naked body using 3D modelling technology and are placed in corresponding poses and positions to the original painting. He also creates different versions from varying viewpoints, such as looking down or from the side, to model the spatial arrangement of the figures in the original fresco. Miao positions the audience as saints looking down from above and ‘the damned’ if looking up from below, it is perhaps a timely reminder about the consequences of the ‘sins’ of the present day.
Miao combines religion with science fiction to create a futuristic vision of a world gone wrong. The works are printed in black and white to add to the futuristic feel of the work. The works are impressively large and dominate the exhibition space making the audience feel small in relation to the work.
Miao Xiaochun appropriates other iconic artworks for similar remakes. “Microcosm”, 2008, is based “The Garden of Earthly Delights”, the 15th century altarpiece by Hieronymus Bosch. Miao Xiaochun has replaces the figures with computer generated humanoid forms and replaced the objects in the original work with contemporary versions. The triptych is reworked as nine sets of computer generated images and a video to depict scenes of paradise, mankind pursuing earthly pleasures and hell.
Miao Xiaochun is currently working on 3D animated films that extend his fantasy works to another level of sophistication. The link below has a preview of “Restart”, an animated video work. Miao Xiaochun clearly constructs a conceptual world in order to create a tension between what is real and what is fabricated. The intention of the artist is to create a parallel fantasy to the chaotic world of today.