Version 1.5b Castle in the Sky

lecture: CHINTERNET ART

Creativity, Archives & Digital Media from the Chinese Internet

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Since my move to China in 2012 I have actively engaged in the local art scenes of Beijing and Shanghai, focusing on collaborating with artists interested in technology and the internet. My own personal independent research of the Chinese internet and the popular Chinese social app, WeChat 微信, has contributed to an ongoing massive archive I began in 2014 called The Chinternet Archive. To date, I have over 15,000 pieces of content (and growing) documenting localized trends, memes, vernacular photography, online personas, .gif animations, videos, selfies, propaganda, retail, family/work life, and other such digital artifacts of online Chinese culture. This archive directly influenced my artistic and curatorial practice, resulting in an online art collection called Netize.net, or its Chinese name of 网友网 [wǎngyǒuwǎng] “Internet Friend Network”, which collaborates with emerging Chinese and international artists who are exploring or deconstructing East/West dichotomies, engaging in Sino-centric Web aesthetics, or investigating the East online. The goal of this talk is to explore through my Chinternet Archive and Netize.net collections, forms of creativity found in China in relationship to it’s early internet history, interactions with technology, localized networks and restrictions.

Michelle Lee Proksell 媚潇 (b. 1985, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia) was born a Third Culture Kid (TCK) to ex-patriate American parents and experienced extreme forms of censorship and governmental monitoring in Saudi Arabia during her formative years. This influenced and shaped her interest and direction in exploring transcultural experiences online in relationship to localized access and dissemination of information, via forms of censorship or self-censorship. Her childhood exploring Asia and years working in new media and internet-related galleries and projects led to her eventual fascination with the unique history of the Chinese Internet. Since 2012 she has been working with creatives in China who engage in technology and the internet, resulting in two major projects documenting online digital artifacts and the emergence of Net Art in China: The Chinternet Archive and Netize.net 网友网 “The Internet Friend Network”.

In this lecture, Michelle will briefly introduce Chinese digital media and online culture through her first hand experience and research. She will touch upon the topics of what it’s really like to deal with the Great Fire Wall on a daily basis, the influence of WeChat on contemporary Chinese digital culture, creative trends from her Chinternet Archive, and memes pertaining to recent viral media events. She will also introduce artists and their artworks from her Netize.net 网友网 project. She will reflect on how people are engaging creatively with the changes of the Chinese internet, how this influences artists and what we can learn from localized networks and the increasingly blurred lines between real life and virtual life.