27 JULY - 17 AUGUST 2011

Following the groundbreaking international new media art exhibition “Synthetic Times“, a 2008 Beijing Olympics Cultural Project, the National Art Museum of China presents “TransLife”, the next installment of the “Media Art China” series, now instituted as a triennial, slated to open on July 26, 2011, in Beijing.

Amidst the global challenges of climate and ecological crises that threaten the very existence of humanity, the exhibition “TransLife” reflects on the whereabouts of humankind in relationship to nature through an unique perspective and philosophical speculation, calling for citizen participation in facing these imminent challenges with artistic imagination to advocate a new world view of nature and a retooled humanist proposition.

The exhibition is structured by three thematically related components that gradually progress from the discovery of new sensorial potentials that extend our cognitive capacities to the emergence of multiple life forms to biodiversity and an exploration of the symbiosis of cohabitation, revealing emerging concepts of life and provoking contemplation on the biosphere. In doing so, the exhibition also strives to reassess the historical roots and epistemological foundation of the current ecological and environmental predicament, interrogating the notion of subjectivity inherent in the project of modernity and the anthropocentrism derived from that tradition.

“Sensorium of the Extraordinary,” the first section of the exhibition, reveals and amplifies subdued and muted sensorial experiences through technological intervention and augmentation to bring awareness to otherwise imperceptible human capacities as well as the dynamic exchange between the self and its vibrant, sentient surroundings. The revelation of a new sensorium beyond our biological limits implicitly complicates our understanding of embodiment and the body’s newly acquired significance in mediated social spaces, broaching the visual–auditory dominant perceptual paradigm, freeing us from the hierarchy of sensory systems and opening up new possibilities for the imagination of bio-equality.

The second part of the exhibition, “Sublime of the Liminal,” takes artificial life, intelligent objects and transgenic hybrids as natural objects, exploring the liminal states of these emergent life forms and their unique manifestations of vitality, extending the concept of life from the biological to the informatics, from the natural to the artificial, thereby delineating a new domain in which the organic interchanges with the inorganic and the biological with the artificial. In defying conventional taxonomy, it extends the notion of life, preparing for a contract of biodiversity that relies on mutual respect and the interdependence of all species and things.

TransLife’s third section, “Zone of Impending,” brings into focus concerns about ecosystems and environments upon which all life depends, calling attention to the plight of ecological disruption through creative inspirations via artists’ great imaginations and ingenious strategies to engage us actively in environmental protection and in the reconstitution of a healthy ecosphere, thereby advocating for a new consciousness of shared responsibility and citizen participation.

Within “Zone of Impending,” a special project named “Weather Tunnel” composed of contributions from multiple art schools in China and around the world will be an architectural spectacle. “Weather Tunnel” acts as a presentation of an immediate and intuitive revealing of complex and otherwise incomprehensible environmental data, epitomizing the living conditions humanity faces and highlighting concerns about the Earth on which life depends as a prominent focus of the exhibition.

The exhibition’s architectural design starting with the first floor of the museum and extending to the third and the uppermost floors resonates with exhibition’s thematic construct in which the progression from the sensorial experiences of the individual to the recognition of the multitude of life phenomena and, finally, to the attention to life-sustaining ecosystems echoes with the emotional and perceptual evolution from micro-worlds to a macro-universe, making the curatorial concept an organic and symbolic physical presence.

“TransLife” will bring to the Chinese audience an unparalleled roster of 53 artworks by over 80 artists and artist collectives from China, Korea, Japan, Singapore, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, The Netherlands, Latvia, Ireland, UK, Finland, Belgium, Norway, Serbia and Australia. 40 works will be included in the theme exhibitions and 10 works will be installed in the “Weather Tunnel” special project.

The exhibition will occupy three galleries on the museum’s first floor and the entire space of the museum’s 3rd and 5th floors, totaling over 4000 square meters. The cutting-edge Chinese architect MA Yansong will design a large installation for “Weather Tunnel” in collaboration with artists from many countries in an open area of the museum.

The exhibition catalogue will consist of a collection of scholarly texts contributed by world-renowned authors to elaborate on the exhibition’s themes and their philosophical ramifications. The catalogue will be co-published by NAMOC, The Liverpool University Press and the Foundation for Art and Creative Technologies and distributed globally.