Analysis on categorizes of China’s experimental short films
By Li Zhenhua

China’s video art began in the year of 1996. A video art exhibition, organized by Qiu Zhijie and Wu Meichun in the city of Hangzhou, has demonstrated video art’s development process and achievements from 1989 to 1996. A great number of artists such as Wang Gongxin, Wang Jianwei, Zhang Peili, Zhu Jia, etc. have grown to be heralds of the new media movement. Driven by the prosperity of networks in 1999, a great many media artists came along. They did not resemble the previous artists, who merely worked on co planate and static works such as painting, prints, sculptures and photographs. Techniques are developing very rapidly with each passing day and people got used to frequently updating the configuration of computers so as to achieve the best operating and displaying effects. Under the great impact of techniques in common people, this development finally took place after the cracking of China’s networks bubble in 2000. In front of the enormous success and failure brought along by the new technological revolution, a more rational development began its pace. At this critical juncture when technology is growing mature, artists approaches of creation are close to consummation. Among these works, the dynamic works are influenced by artists, individuals and companies in various fields. The society also has a direct impact on artists and the artists’ identification, which has undergone a fundamental transformation. For instance, most artists are working in co planate works and have a solid art foundation. However, situation has changed since 2000. Only a small number of artists, such as Yang Fudong, Qiu Zhijie and Wu Ershan, still have art foundation and indirectly influenced by movie aesthetics, while most artists had no art foundation and the most works came from those artists, designers and directors without art foundation. The styles of works are closer to movies rather than the video art from fine art in modern art. The entire change took on chaos but inspiring modern art groups and phenomena, among which some key categories are explained below:

interactive video
8GG[Baguge] are representatives of interactive video. With the help of the current development of networks, they have completed a lot of interactive works.  Through endless research and development of the technological direction, they have successfully transformed the meaning of the works, which could be best presented by their News Broadcasting. After acquiring the sampling of New Broadcasting at a fairly random situation, the program came into being and became a rather influential piece of work in an experimental video-audio (dance) transformation process. On the one hand, the figures in this programs represent new media of the government; on the other hand, the program is a review over the past prior to 1976. When the visual material that contains political sense and public memory was finally transformed by Baguge into almost silent dance, its impressions is permeated with humor between the stops and repeats. After interpreting the meaning of characters, music turned to be principal part of the spot. Of course, they are stressing the inversion of audio and video. But in this new society where people are used to video culture, Baguge and their works are endowed with more meanings. Their website resembles a virtual TV game player full of recreational facilities, on which you could shift the audio effects by variously changing the audio factors. The subtle relations between a visible and invisible audio comprise the foundation of their interactive works.

Political Spelling
<1969> by Cao Kai
Even at the beginning, Cao Kai’s works were closely related to his retrospect on history and politics, which is a virtual retrospect to all those who were born in the 1960s and 1970s. Although the Great Cultural Revolution in our mind has ended up in middle 1970s, it still has an impact even on those born in 1990s. It is a recovery of this Chinese cultural movement and a speculation on the foreign impact on the Chinese people at that time, which accounts for this classic short film. Bryan Adams’ Summer of 1969 impenetrates the entire film. While the hot performance was on at Woodstock’s musical festival in 1969, China was undergoing an enthusiastic wave of Cultural Revolution. The “leader” in the film is endowed with more modern meanings. One is political: it’s the political will demonstrated by Chairman Mao’s waving hands. The other is commercial fashion culture: invisible singers inspire audiences, which contributed to an enthusiastic scene. This apposite relation and editing approach demonstrated all the key affairs of an era so that the film features a strong visual impulse and speculation on the entire 1970s. The film could draw the audience from the modern time back to an enthusiastic historical period within 7 minutes. Obviously, as global change in history began under the awareness of globalization, artists began to pursue self-value and make a strong satire and animadvert on the root of social development, through the approach of video.

Keep track on the experiment
by Zheng Yunhang is an MV presenting the life of mine workers in northeastern China. The song We Workers are Powerful helps the artist to elaborate on the proletariat’s change in social status and living conditions from the past to present. The large amount of documentary within the film has takes on an explicit style. A panorama over the mine mountain, the feature over workers’ face, the working scene, the monochrome menu and hard editing and the special effects have helped to demonstrate the northern China’s style. The hometown in the artist’s memory is a sharp contrast to the metropolis life in Beijing; therefore, the artist begins to produce a video of a revolutionary song that was popular across China in 1960s. Through the social development reflected in the song, the artist is aimed at representing the sufferings endured by his parents’ generation. With the artist’s angle of view and his understanding of modern culture, the film features its special meanings and speculation on value, which is different from other works. Through the shooting method of documentary, three key social factors of truth, rights and value are presented in the MV of a thought-provoking revolutionary song.

China’s literator video

by Yang Fudong, a 12-minute short film widely praised and spread, was produced with traditional medium of 16-millimeter film. From the perspective of aesthetics, the film has inherited the style of China’s landscape paintings. It is composed of light monochrome video, static poses and gestures and interpersonal relations with almost no dialogues. There is no dialogue at all in the film. Dynamic and static motions and music short films are mixed up in the movie, which leaves the audience silent film’s space for imagination. Feeling eccentric for the figure’s motions in silent films, the artist represents an extraordinary scene of China through the eerie and boring motion in Houfang. Most of the scenes derive from the gardens and urban sceneries in the cities of Shanghai and Hangzhou, and from the dominating literator’s inner quality: limpness / superiority / unrestrained / inanity.

Geographic human culture

, co-produced by Ou Ning and Cao Fei, resembles a geographic tour. Through four ever-changing principal video and the rhythm of electronic music, Sanyuanli presents the change of historical human culture in Guangdong’s Zhujiang Delta region under a large environment. It also demonstrates the development changes of the old city and the new city under San Yuan Li’s historical background, which is not related to history. The motions and acts of the figures in the film do not have any implied meaning. The human cultural track of different walks of life has maintained its own state. All the people, including the young people on the street and old men in the temple, maintain their own particular Chinese way of life in times of economic change. There are hardly any elaborations on history. The relations between local people and external people, a phenomenon that represents cultural differences, began to melt away with the construction work. On the one hand, the film experimentally mixes VJ visual factors with electronic music; on the other hand, the geographic factors, cited at the beginning of the work, impenetrate the entire work through the angle of view, presenting various human cultural geographic phenomenon that goes along with the city’s development.

A special commercial effect
DANAM, co-produced by Zhang Dan and Chen Man, is a one-minute short film that embraces several key modern designing factors: pictures, portable video, complanate design and three-dimensional design. The film does not have an apparent directionality. Different from the above said works, this sort of works merely stresses the video impulse and falls into the purely visual category. It also features its characteristic of advertisements, which, however, is different from traditional advertisements. This type of video usually contains some visual factors that general public could not accept, such as naked and violent visual menu. However, thanks to its distinctive colors, special effects on editing and its fashionable styles, this sort of films are acceptable by more young people.

Cartoon shorts
Beautiful Cloud by Zhou Xiaohu creates a sorrowful space through cartoon figures, which demonstrates the artist’s speculations and concerns. As a new type of modern art, the film mixes the three-dimensional motion pictures and the recorded sampling. In this way, the film could create one or more deep visual space, which superposes the motion pictures audience with the audiences’ vision and automatically offering the audiences an angle of being peeled or watched. The editing follows the guidance of music and plots so that the film compulsively elaborates the story deep in the mind of the artist.  

There are still other short films other than the categories of the above-mentioned ones, or ambivalent experimental short films, including:
by Qiu Zhijie
by Wu Ershan
by Shi Qing

The short films mentioned here do not include such large categories as art of videotaping, in that the art of videotaping, which date back to the 1990s, also falls into two categories: single-screen video and multi-screen video and the way of categorizing is totally different from that of the films here: one is in accordance with themes and the other is categorized physically. From the perspective of themes, the art of videotaping used to be inclined to the concept of modern art. Through portable menus, video here is a method and medium for creation. However, the short films since 1996 feature a technique that is closer to movie, or in other words, more cross-media. They are substantially influenced by social technology and aesthetics. The understandings of art have expanded into other fields such as sociology/geography/advertisement/history and take an increasing number of forms. This exhibition approach employs modern art and modern media. Its categorization, from the above said perspective, could be counted into the category of videotaping.
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