Reverberations of the City
Source:Artintern Author:Feng Bo-yi Date: 2008-08-02 Size:
About the video/multimedia art of Hu Jie-ming.


Within current Chinese cultural discourse, “city” is becoming more and more of a closely watched focal point among artists. Urbanization is not only thought of as an expressive symbol of modernization and a substantive, predetermined and inevitable fact, but it is also expected to be a kind of medium that will precipitate new, humanistic mechanics and value systems. But the modern city has always been a giant paradox riddled with contradictions; what it brings us is frequently a complex emotion of pain interweaved with happiness. On the one hand, the culture and civilization of cities saturates mankind’s lifestyle with material forms, while preserving a value concept which we haven’t experienced before but which represents history and the advance of culture and civilization. On the other hand, these images of the city are also a kind of indifferent rejection. There is no modern city that is not replete with desire, morbidity, evil and ugliness; it has already, with its dark hand, molded an existence that suppresses people’s immense contrariness. Especially in China’s process of social change, the psychology of city people is all the more an imbalanced state full of temptation, stunned mistakenness, and anxiety. Recognition, consideration, and evaluation of this kind of state constitute the premise behind the concept of the “urban works,” produced by a few current artists, and are also a useable creative resource, distinctive and clearly pasted on the sub-text of the “city” that their works create.

Hu Jie-ming’s works, in their cultural directness and specific subject matter, can clearly be considered a kind of Chinese “urban art,” whose background is the state of existence and the orientation of values in cities, and whose purpose comes down to using the medium of video to recount the great changes in China’s modern cities and all the problems that they produce. Here, what he is all the more concerned with is not the benefits that modern cities bring to people, but to confront head-on the fact and fiction of China’s urbanization since the 1990s, and to emit an artistic sound that bears a judgmental tone.

The works’ meaning lies not only in their use of a new form of visual concept or medium to depict a city, but also in their recording of spiritual history and emotional history for a city, as well as in the difficult to define “reverberations of the city.”

[Editor] Mark Lee