You Ada & Slime Engine
Guest curated by Kirsten Chen
APRIL 13 – MAY 4, 2019
SATURDAY, APRIL 13 | 6-9 PM
509 ELLIS ST. (@LEAVENWORTH)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94109
WEDNESDAY – SATURDAY | 12-5 PM
The hardest part of showing contemporary art from China is the act of physically transporting it. While technology can help us bypass that, what problems of presence are introduced in virtual realm?
“PLAY ME · LOVE YOU” is an immersive two-part exhibition that brings these issues to the viewer’s attention. SWIM Gallery has been transformed into a space for plugging in to receive a “digitally-focused” introduction to You Ada (尤阿达). Although the Hangzhou-based artist is known for his paintings, a selection of video, print, and sculpture has been brought to SWIM. His paintings are only accessible through digital means: online, virtual exhibitions developed by Slime Engine (史莱姆引擎) and a 360° film of the artist’s studio. It is the first exhibition of both artists in the United States.
PLAY ME shows Ada’s paintings on curatorial platforms where human perception gets caught between the reality created by detailed computer- generated graphics and the overall abstract experience of each piece. Slime Engine’s high-tech, imaginative environments fool you into thinking you’re actually there. You can zoom in and out, or toggle between bird’s eye and panoramic views, but are ultimately fixed to a stationary position. Only a slippery understanding of Slime Engine can be formed— it has no specific shape, sticks to your memory, and makes for hours of viewing pleasure.
LOVE YOU, has multiple meanings depending on how “YOU” is pronounced, like words in Chinese. When it’s pronounced you (as in 你, the viewer), it alludes to the “you-centric” quality of Ada’s work, which is full of pop culture characters, selfies and other practices that reflect the current moment. Who knew Chinese contemporary art could be so easy to relate to? Cross-cultural exchange doesn’t have to be too serious, and China’s firewall isn’t as strong as it seems. Everyone sees the same things on the Internet and with the internet, now you’re seeing Ada’s art. When it’s yóu (as in 尤, the artist), viewers should question their attraction to this deviant work. Everyone loves a sexy Sailor Moon or devilish Astro Boy, but does the original works’ foreign location make it more or less appealing?
This show has been organized as a response to other examples of contemporary Chinese art— it’s still emerging, so only the clean-cut stuff is typically shown. But, we still love it. And like the perfect ending to a letter or postcard, LOVE YOU.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
You Ada (尤阿达) was born in 1987, and currently works in Hangzhou. He makes life-like creations full of cartoons like Dragon Ball-Z, Sailor Moon, and Astro Boy; brands as iconic as Coca-Cola; and crazy parodies of everyday images. His characters are visually ironic, and share a strong commitment to anti-intellectualism with the artist. The fast-paced and fragmented language of the Internet inspires his subversive visuals, as well as his aesthetic logic and sense of humor. Check out You Ada’s Weibo here.
Slime Engine (史莱姆引擎) was founded in October 2017, and is operated and curated by by Li Hanwei, Liu Shuzhen and Fang Yang. Slime Engine develops contemporary arts spaces in the virtual realm, for exhibitions that are not limited by shape, time, or space. Viewers are able to explore the 3D space of the exhibition in multiple views. Check out Slime Engine’s Weibo here.
CHECK OUT THE VIRTUAL EXPERIENCE:
SWIM Gallery Shows You Ada and Slime Engine In America For The First Time, Juxtapoz, 4 April 2019