When? Where? Who?
Source:Artintern Author:An Xiaotong Date: 2008-09-26 Size:
Self-description by artist An Xiaotong: The brand new communicating mechanism and concept of the net are replacing the various traditional means of communication.


Out of the window 195x114cm, water color on traditional Chinese paper, 2008

The brand new communicating mechanism and concept of the net are replacing the various traditional means of communication. With the establishment of this completely new system, distance between people has begun to gradually break away from the material medium or, in other words, from primitive communication, and has entered a snappier and more convenient system.

Nobody can predict what changes the future net world may hold as landbased communication terminals are being replaced by digital ones, simplifying the communication approach and speeding up the transmission speed of the nonmaterial.

Oversimplified internet vocabulary is displacing lengthy traditional expressions. Symbols or nicknames are making simple communications possible. However, seen from another perspective, simplicity in communication has on the one hand brought people closer together, and, on the other hand, has brought about new distance. Dependence upon this cheap communication approach in the virtual world negates the necessity for people to communicate in the real world. Many people are infatuatedwith the virtual world, and the real one has been rendered ambiguous. Life evolves between the virtual and the real worlds, with the former gradually replacing the latter and the concept of communication redefined by space and time.

In the new space and time constituted by the net, as an independent entity, a man may freely express his opinion, give vent to his emotions and to his likes and dislikes. He does not need a perfect setting in which to do these, does not require the presence of a concrete and patient audience; he does not have to pay lip service and can voice his own opinion. Here, individuality is not stifled, is not sacrificed at the expense of trying to preserve a sense of commonality. With the mask of practicality divested and the armor of the net attired, one may find his authentic self in the virtual world.

It took less than a handful of years for such wonderful programs to make their debut: QQ, MSN, online chat, online dating... We are amazed to discover changes in lifestyle and thinking this development has ushered in. The moment you open an online dating site, enter your username and password, millions of user photos and data will come into view. If you wish to date a netizen you fall for, you may directly come to such a service as “local dating”, where messages are left by netizens wishing to date, to whom you may directly respond. You may also openly post your wish to date and if lucky enough, may be invited to have a date with someone the moment your message is posted.

This is another way to pour out one’s emotions, another trajectory of communication. The net and reality co-exist, with the former filling certain gaps that can not be realized in the latter. Who resides in the net and who in reality? When? Where? Who?

[Editor] Mark Lee