CCVA: ‘Shoulders of Giants’ by Shen Xin

Since starting my part-time PhD studies in October 2009 (it’s definitely time to get it done now right?), I’ve been assisting with the work and development of the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts (CCVA) at Birmingham City University, more recently and formally as their Projects Coordinator (Research Assistant) – I’ve just got my new business card. CCVA is at a turning point in terms of its future, where bigger and more exciting things are to come, which I’ll no doubt keep you informed about…watch this space (or blog)…or take a look at the CCVA website. Here’s a brief overview of our most recent event.

Last Wednesday, in the formal decadence of Senate Room at London’s infamous Senate House, was the world premiere of the multi-visual project ‘Shoulders of Giants’, initiated by CCVA and Chronus Art Center (Shanghai, China) artist fellow Shen Xin. Shen has been with us in Birmingham since May 2015.

Instigated by the model of a symposium, Shen used motion capture software and animation to transform the event’s invited speakers into a projected performance of fantasy-like animated creatures derived from Shan Hai Jing (also known as The Classics of Mountains and Seas, 4th Century BC) as they spoke, discussed and conducted a Q&A panel. Dynamic talks and conversations unfolded into their theoretical and artistic practices as a “practice of action”, referencing the dispositions of the speakers’ practices and how they are appropriated in various modes to communicate change and to form a type of “solidarity”. Shen is interested in the social position of the artist through the use of cutting-edge moving image.

With an audience of over forty attendees filling Senate Room, the project passionately discussed global and poignant themes of capitalism and it’s relationship to the world and individual, the implications of power relations, art and language, communication platforms including social media, human capital and human rights, the art of politics and politics of art, and the role of critique and relationship to human consciousness.

Invited speakers included Esther Leslie (Professor in Political Aesthetics, Birkbeck, University of London), Hannah Black (artist and writer), Mark Fisher (writer and author of Capitalist Realism Zer0 2009 and Ghosts of My LifeZer0 2014) and Simon O’Sullivan (Reader in Art Theory and Practice in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths College, University of London).

This event will be adapted into a film by Shen Xin and shown as part of Birmingham City University’s Art-based Masters exhibition ‘A Line Drawn from the Eye to the Summit’, opening 4th September, on show until 10th September 2015 at the School of Art, Margaret Street, Birmingham. Furthermore, ‘Shoulders of Giants’ will be re-presented as part of The Eighth CCVA Annual Conference ‘Transdisciplinary China: Research in Practice’ on 22nd October 2015 at BCU. ‘Shoulders of Giants’ is supported by Centre for Chinese Visual Arts (CCVA), Birmingham City University (BCU), and Faceshift; funded by Chronus Art Centre (Shanghai, China).

Shoulders of Giants, Senate House, London 2015 © Shen Xin, Photograph: CCVA.

Shoulders of Giants, Senate House, London 2015 © Shen Xin, Photograph: CCVA.

Shoulders of Giants, Senate House, London 2015 © Shen Xin, Photograph: CCVA.

Shoulders of Giants, Senate House, London 2015 © Shen Xin, Photograph: CCVA.

Shoulders of Giants, Senate House, London 2015 © Shen Xin, Photograph: CCVA.

Shoulders of Giants, Senate House, London 2015 © Shen Xin, Photograph: CCVA.

Shoulders of Giants, Senate House, London 2015 © Shen Xin, Photograph: CCVA.

Shoulders of Giants, Senate House, London 2015 © Shen Xin, Photograph: CCVA.

Shoulders of Giants, Senate House, London 2015 © Shen Xin, Photograph: CCVA.

Shoulders of Giants, Senate House, London 2015 © Shen Xin, Photograph: CCVA.

Shoulders of Giants, Senate House, London 2015 © Shen Xin, Photograph: CCVA.

Shoulders of Giants, Senate House, London 2015 © Shen Xin, Photograph: CCVA.

Shoulders of Giants, Senate House, London 2015 © Shen Xin, Photograph: CCVA.

Shoulders of Giants, Senate House, London 2015 © Shen Xin, Photograph: CCVA.

Shoulders of Giants, Senate House, London 2015 © Shen Xin, Photograph: CCVA.

Shoulders of Giants, Senate House, London 2015 © Shen Xin, Photograph: CCVA.

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