A public art installation in Shanghai
I’ve done the trip into tomorrow 4 times now. And by the trip into tomorrow, I mean a flight across the International Date Line to Asia. This trip was for a public art installation – to install a show for artist Jim Campbell from San Francisco. In fact, all my other trips to Asia were to set up shows for Jim. If you haven’t seen his work, it is definitely worth checking out. I went to Shanghai to install 5, large and highly technical pieces at the Chronus Art Center, a prominent art space sponsoring contemporary technology art. While I could talk endlessly about Jim’s work, what I really want to describe is Shanghai itself. Shanghai is nestled just inland from the Yellow Sea on the eastern coast of China. As nestled as any city of 24.15 Million people can be: Shanghai has SUBURBS of up to 10 million people. I don’t think I can overemphasize the sheer volume of humanity… and yet it never felt overcrowded. The subway system is extensive, modern, efficient, and even clean. I rode it several times during rush hour, and while there were large crowds, the crowds flowed smoothly almost like water. And even with the dense crowds, I never felt the crunch like I have in NYC on a busy day….or what I imagine some subway lines are like in Tokyo. Even the streets (mostly…well at least the modern ones) are wide. Almost everything seemed modern….like preserving the old is not a high priority.
Although, there are some things that get preserved. During my time there I was able to visit 3 beautiful temples, each in essence, a public art installation: The Shanghai City God Temple, The Jade Buddha Temple, and the Jing’an Temple (recently rebuilt due to fire, but originally dating back to 250AD). In addition to the temples, I visited Yu Garden and the adjacent Yuyuan Tourist Mart for some shopping. Another wild shopping experience was the TianZhiFang: an old neighborhood turned into a tourist shopping area with narrow alleyways and abundant food choices. Here you can have your caricature sculpted while eating meat on a stick.
Sometimes things come up during a public art installation of technology based art. Like a piece malfunctions or new parts must be sourced. So, when traveling in foreign countries I am always on the lookout for places where I might source these parts. Shanghai has a centralized place for sourcing electronics: the SEG Electronics Marketplace. This is a 10 story building filled with small booths where vendors sell a large variety of specialized electronics related products. It was so satisfying to find products that I had heretofore only been able to research online before buying. Now I know there is a place in the world where one can.