In Search of Feng Mengbo

PLACE

Hong Kong, Shanghai

TIME

2020

KEYWORDS

game, art, collaboration

Curators: Yang Jing, Ye Zitao

Artist: Feng Mengbo

At the beginning of this century, art historian Boris Groys argued that the art industry suffers from overproduction and underconsumption. In 2020 the problem becomes even more evident, not only with the exponential growth in the number of individual artists and non-artists producing audiovisual works, but also with the institutions that used to enable artworks to be exhibited and experienced ritualistically, i.e., art museums, art fairs, and galleries, which themselves have redirected their work online due to covid-19. This means that art exhibitions, from content to form, have to compete with other forms of cultural and entertainment offerings within multiple actor networks (ANT).

Selecting, reorganizing, and systematically presenting artworks and artists are key points in the work of contemporary art curators and galleries, one of the aims of which is to reconstruct the temporal and spatial contexts of artworks that have been de-contextualised from their temporal and spatial locations. This means museums need to construct alternative historical scenarios with works/artists as clues within the limited space of the gallery, both to complete the genealogical inventory in the field of art history and to help visitors understand the artwork exhibited.

The conceptualisation of the exhibition "In Search of Feng Mengbo" is based on these two considerations, exploring the curatorial possibilities at this historical point in 2020 when the system of art is reshuffled. We frame Feng Mengbo, the artist himself as a specific historical individual, and utilise ludological methodology to design game rules for information discovery. Therefor we transform visitors from "spectators" to "players", breaking away from the superficial and inactive role of an outsider. We aim to transform representation of art into co-presence of artaudience. In this way, the audience becomes active, searching for Feng Mengbo's traces in the infinite information on the Internet, and finding the works behind the information and the complex artist reflected in the crystal structure behind his works.

The exhibition is in the form of a web game, in which the curators collects and organises Feng Mengbo's artistic creations and life trajectory, and then present them on the web interface in the form of a crossword puzzle,. We use hyperlinks to provide solutions and arouse players' curiosity. The gameplay of the exhibition is entirely based on the "rules" themselves, and the materials required for solving the riddles (Feng Mengbo's works) are completely located in an infinite database on the Internet. The exhibition itself provides a multi-directional traffic flow in the infinite data on the Internet, where information about the artist and his works already exists, waiting to be discovered by individuals. The visitor needs to use his/her own familiar search engine and social network to solve puzzles and discover information, "assembling" his/her Feng Mengbo. The exhibition attempts to build the environment in which information itself lives (the algorithmically that manipulate individual Internet user), but also to create a challenge to the usual path by motivating visitors to bring in their own intelligence to form possible paths, as well as an attempt to bring the current art information, which often circles inside art system, into the more hybrid extranet.

We invited the artist Feng Mengbo for multiple reasons: Feng is one of China's earliest artists who worked with digital language, especially the language of video games, and he continues to produce works that can be traced easily on the Internet. His cross-over collaborations also place him in fields that do not entirely overlap with contemporary art, such as music, games, live streaming, VR, etc., providing more non-art clues for the visitors to solve the puzzel. Feng also has his own observations and critics on the current curatorial approach, which will also help us in our work.