If art represents the state of people’s mind, then its form is in the process of being profoundly altered by technology. And that’s what the artist aaajiao (Xu Wenkai) wants to explore in his solo exhibition “aaajiao:an ID” at HOW Art Museum till July 14.

Half of the exhibit room is occupied by giant, clear plastic bubbles of different forms, each of which is said to be made with a perfect algorithm of some kind.

“I use them to showcase how our memories are constructed, fused, altered and connected,” said aaajiao.

In 1989, the World Wide Web was created by English scientist Tim Berners-Lee. Aaajiao is part of a generation who grew up within this interconnected network and experienced the process of technological digitalization firsthand. Yet, 30 years on people are still incapable of summing up the changes the Internet has brought us in one sentence.

Courtesy of HOW Art Museum

Installation “bots,” PVC inflatable

Previous experience tells us part of the memory can be stored in the leg muscles, that’s why we remember a place better after we take a good walk around it. Nowadays, with keyboards and clicks of a mouse, we surf the Internet under a user’s ID to deal with the information, to copy, download, record and post what we would like to own.

Like it or not, we become what we browse. Our individual existence is increasingly defined online and in the form of numbers, while the tightening of the Internet makes the extensiveness of connectedness more and more immediate, causing the notions of “freedom” and “independence” to become abstract concepts outside the range of perception.

When we exit at the end of the day we are much closer to the truth of who we are, depending on “how much our memory chips weigh.”

Aaajiao holds the perspective that, with the plethora of possibilities and immense satisfaction, technology has brought with it a host of new dilemmas and crises. If artists hope to play any sort of role in all of this, then they must first posit their practices at the core of the technological mechanism.

Courtesy of HOW Art Museum

Artist aaajiao (Xu Wenkai)

“I would like to think big data modeling and computation are a good force in the future, as it blurs boundaries between the virtual reality and the real world, unlocked a multitude of possibilities for how we look at time and space by letting go of the self-imposed limitations we are still carrying from our past experience,” said the 35-year-old.

Aaajiao now lives and works in Shanghai and Berlin. He was awarded the Art Sanya Awards in 2014 Jury Prize and was nominated for the first edition of OCAT-Pierre Huber Art Prize in 2014.

Courtesy of HOW Art Museum

Installation “Blog Archaeology,” memory chips and electronic weigher

Exhibition Info

Date: Through July 14, (closed on Mondays), Tuesday-Friday 1-10pm; Saturday-Sunday 10am-10pm
Venue: HOW Art Museum
Address: No. 1, 2277 Zuchongzhi Rd