The Truth About Entropy

20 Dec 2014 – 1 Mar 2015

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OCAT Shanghai

Shanghai Shi, China

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2014 OCAT-Pierre Huber Art Prize Shortlist Exhibition
The Truth About Entropy


OCAT Shanghai is proud to announce“The 2014 OCAT-Pierre Huber Art Prize Shortlist Exhibition”, that will be hosted by OCT Contemporary Art Terminal Shanghai opening on 19 December 2014 and the winning artist of the prize will receive a grant of 100.000 RMB as an encouragement to further pursue his/her research in the field of Media Art.
This prize stems from the exhibition Degeneration, a group show of young media artists from Mainland China organized by OCAT Shanghai from December 2013 to March 2014. Since July 2014, a board composed by more than one hundred members with expertise and insight into Chinese media art has selected eight finalists to take part in this exhibition. A special jury consisting of five international curators – Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Rudolf Frieling, Ute Meta Bauer, Yuko Hasegawa and Zhang Ga – will select and announce the recipient of the first OCAT-Pierre Huber Prize on the opening day of the exhibition. “The OCAT-Pierre Huber Art Prize” will take place on an annual basis and will evolve to include emerging artists from Greater China and the rest of the world.

“The Truth About Entropy”

‘Entropy can be regarded as governing the direction of all physical changes taking places in the universe. With time, energy within a system will inevitably tend to become distributed in the most probable pattern, which consists of all the individual particles of the system engaging in a random, disordered motion’. OED

What Entropy, a rather elusive law of thermodynamics, postulates is essentially that the physical changes matter is subject to, brings an alteration of the system which results in a different arrangement of the same particles, therefore of matter itself. Strictly considered, it tells that in a closed, isolated system, everything goes through an irreversible alteration causing a deterioration of the quality of energy. On a more optimistic side, it also seems to reinforce Lavoiser’s principle of conservation of mass, for which nothing is created nor destroyed, but everything changes, the quantity of mass remaining unaltered.
If the world and the things in it naturally tend to entropy, contemporary art seems to follow this principle, and at the same time to contrast it, inasmuch as it fights against the degradation of reality, the pauperisation of contents and the impairment of communication. At a better consideration, what art deals with is precisely the circulation and rearrangement of contents (=information=matter) based on an entropic mechanism the artist’s intervention puts into motion.
The “systems” assembled by the eight participants in The 2014 OCAT-Pierre Huber Art Prize Shortlist Exhibition are portions of re-worked reality altered to the point of releasing new meanings, arising not from a deterioration of energy, but from its transmission through a medium.
That is where the definition of “media art” comes into play: media art is such not just because is conveyed or achieved through a medium – the so-called “new media” – but above all inasmuch it and its contents are mediated, translated. Following the law of entropy, the material reality is made of is here reworked, its structure fatally altered, its semantic potential augmented, the degree of fertile “chaos” enhanced.

The eight artists participating in the 2014 OCAT – Pierre Huber Art Prize Shortlist Exhibition have operated an entropic intervention on the material they consider crucial in their understanding of the world:

Aaajiao isolates the user-interface basic functions and the systems of data processing; his conceptual intervention on screen – a third “stage” after the materialization of allegorical objects conceived for new and atavic uses (a box to be opened, an “obelisk” ejecting a meaningful list) – modifies the nature of our position and identity within the input-output systems.

Cheng Ran alters the narrative conventions and social contexts of the fairy-tales to preserve their meaning and function, showing that things need to change in order to remain the same; he exposes the liminal space of fairy-tales and the narrative patterns they entails, exploring the boundaries between childhood and adulthood, dream and awakeness.

Fang Lu re-enacts moments from her own understanding of social and political life: the metaphorical stage of the media becomes a real one, actions are systematically turned into rituals, life into theatre; by highlighting the degree of artifice implied in the way the informative apparatus survives and grows, a seed of truth is also sawn in the actual unwinding of daily, public life.

Li Ming converts the modern use of the GPS to the old necessity to understand space and time; the exploration carried out during his journeys becomes an amusement for the users of the smoking room Li’s exhibition space will be configured like: the material from reality is once again altered and converted to new reflections, rather than new uses. In his re-enactments of the information processes, scraps of dialogues, arbitrary utterances and parodies of performances and interviews.

Li Ran stirs the sediment of communication: he almost changes its “chemical” composition, injecting powerful doses of truth revealed in the occasional mistakes, pauses and hesitations of the featured “voices”.

Lin Ke’s work is the proof of what happens when art, following people’s “new” living and working modality, becomes self-sufficient and enclosed within the boundaries of its technological output; in his peculiar imagery, the layers of 3D reality we experience “outside” are flattened and compacted on the 2D dimension of the screen and its intrinsic depth, given by the possibility to open many windows at one time: phenomena are thus compressed in one dense (moving) image charged with semantic self-evidence. Using her usual strategy of mystification and translation of cultural and linguistic scopes.

Lu Yang arranges interconnected spaces for the layout of integrated projects hinting at the world of videogame arcades; once again, different imageries forming the core of the artists’ education short-circuit with the viewers’ own experiences and expectations, boosting the initial amount of energy supplied by each enclosed sphere.

Zhang Ding’s brutal interventions on matter entail a high degree of entropy inasmuch as they cause an alteration in matter’s composition and form; by operating such a drastic manumission, he creates a completely different type of energy, deriving from this burst of violence, as in a primeval big bang; but in this case everything happens on a stage, under a spotlight, in front of a group of civilized and impassive spectators, and that’s the irony of it.

What to expect? Toggle


Mariagrazia Costantino

Exhibiting artistsToggle

Xu Wenkai - Aaajiao


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