There is this sense or perhaps compulsion to make sense of the city through its cultural history, as if history were the whole story and not some narrative, which has been retrofitted to the needs of the moment. This is not to say that the needs of the moment are unimportant, merely to highlight that what counts as history and when history may come to count (so to speak) are themselves effects of other social processes which may or may not have anything to do with what happened, but are (nevertheless) important to understanding what we think happened. All this to say, answering the question “how did Hakka-scapes come to the foreground of Shenzhen’s current embrace of history?” requires double think: we not only need to rummage around to figure out what happened then, but also to posit why then-and-there have been positioned at the origin of here and now. Continue reading
December in Shenzhen is known as “Creative December”. The city has been officially promoting culture and creative industries since 2005, moving manufacturing to the outer districts, incubating start-ups, and funding creative spaces and so forth. Many of the large-scale, government promoted events during Creative December 2015 focused on history and memory and the scale of these imaginary formations. For those who often what to do on a weekend afternoon, this past December offered an embarrassment of choices in addition to the city sponsored Shenzhen-Hong Kong Biennale of Urbanism/ architecture and the Shenzhen Public Sculpture Exhibition, every single level of government and private art spaces sponsored large-scale cultural events that ranged from the first Kylin Dance Festival (in Longhua) to the Indie Animation Festival in Overseas Chinese Town. In addition, every weekend has been filled with lectures, workshops and salons. For those of us who work in culture—we paint or run galleries or act or produce plays or think about society and take critical photographs of changes in the land—December is the month when we present a year’s worth (or not) of endeavor to the public.
In January, before Shenzhen turns its gaze back to the problem of making an industry of culture—Culture, Inc, we begin rounds of New Year’s dining privately with friends and family, as well as formally with colleagues. During these meals, culture and Culture, Inc are discussed in tandem; there is a potentially large market for culture because everyone is vaguely dissatisfied and looking for spiritual forms of satisfaction that are also economically viable. Continue reading
Shenzhen abruptly arrives at the edge of something new, some palatable, pulsing readiness that has been growing beneath our feet, and launches us into unanticipated desires. Or so it seems today. Continue reading
Yesterday, Handshake 302 won the first annual Shenzhen Creative Design Award in the category of creative synthesis. The other five categories included: architecture/space; product development; fashion; visual communication, and; interactive design. The awards recognized social design as an important element of design in general. The overall winners for “special contribution” included the Shenzhen based Ancient Village Network that provides technical and other support for village preservation and the OCT market, which provides young designers and artists a rent-free stalls to sell their products on weekends. Continue reading
Today I joined the opening for the Atron Art Centre, which boasts the largest book collection / book display in the world. Still under construction, the building glitters, as do Atron’s ambitions to promote and propagate knowledge and culture. Impressions, below.
…was the slogan of this year’s Shenzhen Maker Faire. I attended on Sunday, and then Monday afternoon joined researchers from the Institute For the Future on a tour of BGI (Beijing Genomics Institute) or “China Great Gene (华大基因)” as the name translates from the Chinese.
What did I see and learn?
That children love playing with gadgets. That most of the “products” were in fact toys. And that the most popular booths had the greatest room for serious play. In other words, the successful objects themselves structured a particular–and somehow “first”–experience. Hence, the wow moments that attracted children and adults alike.
That BGI has concentrated a massive amount of capital and resources in order to further the production of data. Moreover, as the cost of mapping genomes has dropped from $US 3B to around $US 3,000 in a little over twenty years, the data has proliferated to the point where the challenge facing researchers is technologies for storing and analyzing the data. I’m not sure what this volume of data means in terms of life experiences, but it does strike me that our imaginations constantly seek material form. And I learned the expression human augmentation, as if we are not enough.
That the Shekou Relaunch campaign has brought in interesting cultural programs to the area. In addition, these programs have been popular and attracted residents from all over the city to Shekou. So notable that–again–we’re looking at the design of experience. And all this hinges on the promulgation of culture and creativity as both the means and ends of socio-economic development.
Yesterday I visited Dafen for the first time in over a year. Noticed several tourists, better coffee shops, and a store selling Tibetan clothing. It seems that Dafen’s makeover from site of copy painting production to a shop-front / tourist site continues. Impressions, below: