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  • seandodson 10:01 am on April 10, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 2010, , china, , , Heatherwick Studio, , shanghai expo, , uk pavillion shanghai expo, world's fair   

    Expo 2010: UK will be working the car wash 

    carwash1Is it just me or does plan for the UK pavilion at next year’s Shanghai Expo look exactly like an enormous car wash?

    Work has just begun on the winning design, by Heatherwick Studio. The brushes in the picture (above) are actually pixels and can be pre-programmed to display several different designs. The symbolism seems wholly appropriate, mind, as if to say to the world that, honestly, we can clean up our mountains of debt.

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  • seandodson 10:47 pm on March 8, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , china, , mvrdv, ,   

    Stacked: MVRDV’s vision for future Shenzhen 


    Shenzhen, located north of Hong Kong, both fascinates and frightens me in equal measure. I’ve been writing about how the city is being used as a social laboratory to test the world’s most sophisticated city-wide surveillance system in the latest issue of Icon.

    But it’s the recent competition to re-design its central business district that I’m linking to today. Steven Holl Architects actually won the competition, but it is the four towers (two of which are above) proposed by Rotterdam’s MVRDV that caught my eye. The towers, stacked precariously almost like a pile of books, provide shelter for large public spaces below. It’s an original and bold urban vision designed to encourage street life in Shenzhen: the soon-to-be surviellance capital of the world (via SpaceInvading).

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    • AG 8:26 am on March 9, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Hey Sean, I’d be very stoked to see a copy of your Icon article, as I may not be able to get my hands on a physical copy here. Is there any way I could trouble you for one?

    • Yann LB 7:22 am on July 22, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      That was by far the project I prefered! I live in Shenzhen and i would have liked to see these buildings! They’re fantastic!

  • seandodson 10:26 am on October 17, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: china, chinese art, , contemporary chinese art, cultural revolution, , frieze art fair, mao zedong, o zhang   

    Review: O Zhang at the Frieze Art Fair 

    O Zhang at Frieze

    Originally uploaded by

    To London yesterday to look at my old friend O Zhang’s new show at the Frieze Art Fair in London’s Regent’s Park. Her new work, entitiled The World is Yours (But Also Ours) is being exhibited by the CRG Gallery of New York. O’s space lies at an end of one the big tent’s long corridors and it is dominated by a very large poster print of a young Chinese girl wearing a Western T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “It’s All Good in the Hood”. As usual with Zhang’s work, there’s an ambiviallence to her subject’s expression: here we see a mix of defiance, pride, and shyness. The girls, moreover, stands outside the entrance to Tiananmen Gate in Beijing towering, not only over the viewer, but also above the famous photograph of Mao Zedong, almost as if he were receding into the past. Behind the girl,  a torn police ribbon trails off into the middle distance.

    The accompanying 15 photographs follow a similar pattern: young, Chinese girls in garish Western T-shirts standing in front of a significant Beijing landmarks.  Each picture also has a Chinese slogan running along the bottom taken from a classic text from the country’s communist past: “Stability Overides Everything” or “People are the Real Heroes”. In one frame we see a young girl outside the Olympic stadium wearing an Astroboy T-shirt above the slogan of “We are Capable of Everything”. Much of it is extremely witty: one girls holds an I Love China handbag in one hand, while wearing an “Everything is Shit” message on her T-shirt, the Chinese slogan along the foot of the photograph reads “Poverty is not Socialism”, a famous maxim of Deng Xiouping.

    Zhang writes in a statement that, “having divided my time equally in recent years between the East and the West, my own experience of my home country is often one of profound ambivalence”. She explores this subject assiduously with this series of pictures that “visually capture the economic and political conflicts in modern day Chinese culture, among them, the identity crisis facing Chinese Youth.” It is a great collection of her work, much more political and direct than anything previously.

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  • seandodson 12:14 am on August 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , china, , , ,   

    Naomi Klein: You are being awed by China’s sheer awesomeness 

    I’m a little late posting this, but after a week of the Olympics, I think Naomi Klein is bang on the button again. We are being dazzled by the games.

    “The games have been billed as China’s “coming out party” to the world. They are far more significant than that. These Olympics are the coming out party for a disturbingly efficient way of organizing society, one that China has perfected over the past three decades, and is finally ready to show off. It is a potent hybrid of the most powerful political tools of authoritarianism communism — central planning, merciless repression, constant surveillance — harnessed to advance the goals of global capitalism. Some call it “authoritarian capitalism,” others “market Stalinism,” personally I prefer “McCommunism.”

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  • seandodson 10:48 am on August 11, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , china, , how to pronounce Beijing, how to say Beijing, mandarin, , ,   

    How to get your mouth around Beijing 

    A few years ago, while enjoying an after-dinner drink at a hotel high up in the Arctic Circle, a really nice Swedish lady politely taught me how to pronounce Beijing with a hard J (as in Jack) rather than the softer J (as in Jacques).

    I naturally began to notice how many of us also mispronounce the name – including most major news networks. The BBC uses a hard J, but Channel 4 News and Sky offer a more confusing message. This got me wondering: why is there this dichotomy in the West? So I looked into it and, seeing that it was time for the Olympics, I wrote a small article in today’s Media Guardian on the politics behind the pronounciation.

    Here’s the blockquote:

    In the old days it was much easier, as the capital of China was Peking (K as in king), but since 1949 the Chinese authorities have been asking us to use Beijing. This was routinely ignored until the 1980s when the request became more insistent and the Chinese began enforcing the new name on all flights, sea routes and official documents.

    The first indication of this change for many was on the news – and the newsreaders began to shift the J into something that sounds vaguely French. According to Zhao Shangsen at the Chinese embassy in London, there is no softer phonetic J in Mandarin. This makes the use of the French-sounding J sound a bit like an affectation; an attempt to sound grand.

    Even so, pronouncing Beijing with a hard J is still only an approximation. To say the name like a local you need to be able to handle the tonal shifts of Mandarin.

    With the Olympics now in full swing, isn’t it time that our news presenters tried their best? After all, the old excuse for mispronouncing the names of foreign places – that they arrived here through a system of, well, Chinese whispers – is no longer valid in the age of instant communication.

    There’s a helpful explanatory video here, if you want to learn how to pronounce the name of the capital correctly.

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    • Jonathan 1:19 pm on August 11, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I’m glad lots of people are picking up on this now. I particularly like the “affectation; an attempt to sound grand.” That’s what I’ve been trying to say about it. Not only is there no such sound in Mandarin, there isn’t in English either!

    • seandodson 9:04 am on August 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      There was a bit of follow-up in a couple or Readers letters in yesterday’s Media Guardian.

  • seandodson 11:43 am on July 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , china, , , hong kong, , , , , ,   

    Shenzhen: China’s emerging panopticon … and it’s coming here soon 

    Situated immediately north of Hong Kong, Shenzhen is a city that has gone from nought to 12 million in less than 30 years. Naomi Klein describes the emerging megacity in Rolling Stone as a large industrial sprawl with a glittering and increasingly glamourous core:

    “Newer neighborhoods like Keji Yuan are packed with ostentatiously modern corporate campuses and decadent shopping malls. Rem Koolhaas, Prada’s favorite architect, is building a stock exchange in Shenzhen that looks like it floats … a still-under-construction superlight subway will soon connect it all at high speed; every car has multiple TV screens broadcasting over a Wi-Fi network. At night, the entire city lights up like a pimped-out Hummer, with each five-star hotel and office tower competing over who can put on the best light show.”

    But there is, she says, a darker flip side to Shenzhen:

    “Over the past two years, some 200,000 surveillance cameras have been installed throughout the city. Many are in public spaces, disguised as lampposts. The closed-circuit TV cameras will soon be connected to a single, nationwide network, an all-seeing system that will be capable of tracking and identifying anyone who comes within its range”

    She ends with the note that the Western companies who have helped install the Chinese “Golden Shield” are now looking for new markets, somewhat closer to home.

    • John Feeney 9:13 pm on July 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Coming soon to a city near you. It’s not camera that’s in question here, it the source that is controlling the units and content. That has always been the issue when Surveillance surfaces.

      It is sad we as a people cannot take the same energy used in screaming about Privacy or liberties lost and put the same effort to understanding how we can take this technology to the next level beyond this “All Seeing Eye” concept.

      Why is no one exploring the possibilities of having 10 cameras on one street corner an using the content to generate marketing material an say promoting the same streets as an example of how this can work for the better.

  • seandodson 1:22 pm on June 17, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Belarus, , Burma, china, , , , , Libya, North Korea, , reporters without borders, , , Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam   

    Islands in the net: Reporters Without Borders identifies the internet’s black holes 

    The Internets Black Holes

    Originally uploaded by oneighturbo

    I’ve just come across this campaign poster by Reporters Without Borders outlining 15 “black holes” in the world wide web. Where the circulation of a free press is restricted. The 15 countries are Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

    The poster reminds me a lot of Bruce Sterling’s surprisingly prophetic novel Islands in the Net, which I’ve been meaning to reread for a while. Written in 1988, but set in 2023 it fortells of a time when most of us live in a kind of world state woven together by a vast communications web. That idea is touched on here, that the internet exists as a truly transnational state and deny access to it is to deny a basic human right.

    • Bjöggi 10:18 pm on June 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      That is so (for a lack of words to describe my feelings) horrible.

  • seandodson 11:25 pm on June 6, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , china, , , , , relationship with china, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, west   

    Amelia Roberts: Brighton graphic designer ruminates on the West’s consumption of China 

    I am impressed with the work of the student graphic designer Amelia Roberts, who is currently studying at the University of Brighton. Roberts has just produced this pair of splendid posters (above) that offer a wry commentary on how “the West blame China’s carbon emissions as a main cause of Global warming. Yet … seem unaware that they are fueling China’s industrial revolution.

    I like it. Her work is direct and memorable and attractive. The last shadow puppets to impress me as much as this were Tim Noble and Sue Webster. Their work lit up Saatchi’s Apocalypse exhibition at the Royal Academy a few short years ago. This work does it better.

    (via it’s nice that)

  • seandodson 5:50 pm on January 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: aquatic, , , , china, , , , water cube   

    Beijing’s life aquatic 

    Dodgy politics aside for a moment, at least this summer’s Beijing Olympics will be remembered for one thing: some of the most exciting new architecture of the 21st century. The design blog today Kitsunenoir has posted a wonderful photomontage of the new National Aquatic Centre in Beijing. Known as ‘The Water Cube’ (or even more fashionably as [H2O]3) the buildings fascinating structure is based on the natural formation of soap bubbles, which gives the building both its random and organic appearance.The centre doesn’t open until the summer but already Flickr has been flooded with images of its construction. And where it stands in relation to the “Birds Nest” Olympic Stadium. Both make London’s 2012 efforts a little dated.

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