Liverpool Biennial 2010: Media Landscape: Zone East in the basement of the NOVAS Contemporary Urban Centre. Continued.

Media Landscape: Zone East in the basement of the NOVAS Contemporary Urban Centre.

Art Part of the City States strand, the show gathers together artists from across the Far East, twelve different countries to demonstrate that right now it's impossible to catagorise media art, that like so many of disciplines the barriers have broken down and that artists no longer feel constrained in how they project their vision (other than money but let's not talk about that on today of all days). Most of the work appears on plasma screens, though there are some projections and nearly all require the use of headphones which means that the interaction is mostly one to one or two which makes the experience rather more intimate than at most venues at the Biennial featuring video art.

As I hope was conveyed in yesterday's post about the Silas Fong piece, this basement exhibition is filled with unexpected delights, not least the venue itself which as you can see from the photo above is a black hole in comparison to the bright light of the usual white cube spaces and far more atmospheric. Visually similar to the Cavern Club, it's also rather like a Christmas Grotto for adults, but instead of a recreation of Santa's factory or an unlicensed Disney tale, we have a collection of thematically complex stories and other rather magical fancies most of which work best without much prior knowledge, pinioned as they are on the moment when we realise what's happening, what the piece is about.  I'm about to spoil just two of the pieces.

Min Oh's Dialogue #3 is a recording of what must have been a spectacular performance piece on the opening night, but is still fairly impressive in its virtual echo. Essentially the artist creates for herself a series of interactions and was up to the visitors on that night to decide the order these interactions would appear, to make a choice through shouting. Most consist of the artist interacting with a pre-recorded and projected version of herself, marching, fighting, dancing. They play with birds, they play with balloons, and throughout we're not sure if Oh is a master of timing or whether the virtual clone of her is programmed to react to the conditions in the real world. It's astonishing either way. Here's a trailer for an earlier performance in NY which gives some of the flavour:

Sumito Sakakibara's One Woman, Eight Lives has real emotional punch. Animated in the style of a Raymond Briggs cartoon, we're presented a painting of a Trumpton like town from above filled with activity, children playing, teenagers courting, a couple getting married, a new mother and father and retirees. Watch further, look closer, and longer and we realise that the kids, teens, newlyweds, parents and pensioners are all the same kids, teens, newlyweds, parents and pensioners and that we're seeing, in this case, are the eight ages of a woman all together in a single tableau spinning clockwise about the frame. As Emru Townsend notes in this review of its premiere at the Japan Media Arts Festival 2005, "it can be seen as illustrating how we interact with our descendants, or how we interact with different generations in general." I don't think I can improve on that.

Until 20th November.


  1. sophie12:45 am

    How do you fit all this in ?! I wish I didn't have job lol