Exhibitions in the Main Venue of 2016 Beijing Design Week

The Theme Exhibitions are the academic windows to Beijing Design Week (BJDW). They determine the trans-disciplinary status and influences of BJDW, and showcase, in a differentiated manner, their standpoints and attitudes in the world and in their respective industries. To meet the interests of all visitors, two special exhibitions added artistic charms to the National Day holiday at the main venue—the China Millennium Monument.

The Theme Exhibitions

Technology ethics—BMAB Design Methodology

Classic Review—Auto Design Exhibition in Modern TimesClassic Designs

Special Exhibitions

Back to the Glorious Times—Italian Paints of Late 19th–- Early 20th Century Design Fashions of the Glorious Times

Chinese Characters Experience PavilionArcheology and Design in Ideograms

I. Art and Moral—A Leap-forward Blend of Art and Technology  

Beijing Media Art Biennale (BMAB)—A Prospective Probe into Design Methodology and Technology Ethics

Technology ethics is not a new topic. In Chinese ideological system, moral refers to the relations between men, men and nature, as well as the rules governing such relations. The Chinese built the principles of life on such relations and the recognition system on the relations between physical existences, men, and men and nature, which are well explained by Chinese philosophicdialecticsabout technology and moral. Zhuangzi was strongly opposed to evilly motivatedtechnologies, and advocated natural views of development and values. In the West, PhysicistRichard Feynman pointed out that human were motivated by concept (Epistemology) or tools (science and technology) in the course of understanding the world: “If our discoveries are drivenby “concepts”, we tend to explain the old stuff from a new angle; if it’s driven by “tools”, we end up explainingwhat we have created or discovered.”  

Today, the emergence of new technologies is almost out of control, and technologies keep challenging and breaking out moral limits, making it crucial to study technology ethics in the new context. Technological development brings about a number of new ethic challenges such as data privacy, data religion, data legacy, robot awakening, mind uploading, Cyborg, cybernetics, genetic modification (GM), GM species inequality and VR, which, unfortunately, are impossible to explain with existing interpretative systems. It is believed that, such topics are out of the reach of philosophy but are universal and would be concerned by all natural persons. We have to not only consider all possible ethic challenges brought by technology, but also review the ethic crisis triggered by application of existing technologies. Introspection on technological ethics is of guiding significance to technological development, as said by Slavoj Zizek: “The ‘ought’ in ethics should be the guidance rather than the obstacle to the development of modern science and technology.”

BMAB is an international academic platform that facilitates the crossover experiment of art and technology. Centering on “technological ethics”, it presents the results of trans-disciplinary experiments made by artists in the fields of science, big data, AI, biological genetic technology and MR. Artists, designers, scientists and theorists are invited to study the “perceptual” in the application of technologies and work out new social cognitions. BMAB is also an international communication platform for artistic and industrial integration and innovation where a constellation of creativity and entrepreneurship specialists and technical experts from art, design, film and TV, game, Internet and intelligent technology circles help the creativity sector with trans-disciplinary incubators. Discussions on the structuring of design methodology would definitely lead to reflections and dialogues on the mutual penetration between industrial, technological and educational sectors.

An international creativity platform that activates the organic co-existence of arts and cities, BMAB pioneers in using large screens in urban public areas as the artistic carriers to bring media arts deeply into public spaces, present trans-regional cultural effects and add creativity vigor to cities.

The exhibition runs from September 26 to October 9.

II. Wheel the World and the Unknown

The “Classic Review – Auto Design Exhibition in Modern Times” is a salute to the classic designs of human civilization. From auto parts to structures, the exhibition elaborates the history and culture behind auto design esthetics, and the industrial esthetics, functional esthetics and design esthetics represented by thevintage cars of the 20th century.

Since the first car in the late 19th century, early cars were “horseless wagons” either in structure or shape. Decades later, the auto industry said farewell to its “ancestor”. The mid 1930s witnessed the heyday of luxurious cars featuring grandeur and design, traits of both dignity and fashion. In the 1930s, “streamline” was the synonym for “modern”, and the concept of uniform car bodywork was widely accepted. Norman Bel Geddes, “the father of streamlining”, established the theory of the relationship between aerodynamics and automobile shape, which was a great contribution to the concept of modern car during the two World Wars. The 1950s saw large manufacture of automobiles in USA and free, open, imaginative designs. It was the time of personality and symbolism, and of close ties between cars and popular cultures. In addition to the classic cars, visitors can access to the history of auto design and 3D printing technology, respectively representing the past and the future.  

The century-old auto industry vividly interprets the leapforward of civilization and modern society. Auto design is never independent from technology, industry, esthetics, society, economy, way of life and human imagination. Regardless how it develops, auto design is a part of modern society and industrial civilization, and is destined to facilitate human life, which is just the “driver” of its never-ending evolution.    

Stepping into the pavilion, visitors will see eleven vintage cars carefully chosen by the Organizer. They are representatives of auto design. One of them is designed by Raymond Loewy, “the father of US industrial design”. Visitors will have chances to learn the evolution of auto design from 1906 to 1991, find traces of the Depression, beimpressed by the noble Cadillac classics, and see brands that appeared and then vanished. They will also gain knowledge on the emblems, the reforms of radiator cap, the functional improvements of engine, and changes in esthetics. Going forward, they will be in front of fifty cars, each representing a decade starting from 1920, including a Chevrolet GMC truck known as the “Top-class Light Pickup”. Car emblems are streamlined from complicated animal and human figures to speedy rockets and then to abstract lines. Most of the cars are brought to China for the first time, including rare classics and masterpieces of the great names in auto design.      

The automobile industry gains leap-forward development over a century. On hand it explains the power of technology; on the other, it reflects the application of artistic design to everyday life. The vintage cars are the symbols of industrial design in the 20th century and of applied art and design esthetics. No wonder the visitors rated the exhibition as“the most luxurious automobile show in Beijing”.

The exhibition is open at 9:30-11:00 and 14:00—15:30from September 26 to October 7, free of charge. Reservation is required.

III. Back to the Glorious Times

Focusing on important artistic genres, “Back to the Glorious Times--—Italian Paints of the Late 19th–the Early 20thCentury” is an exhibition about the far-reaching impact of design on the fashion, decoration and dressing styles in the Glorious Times.

The Glorious Times refers to the period from 1871 (before the Franco-Prussian War) to 1914 (before WWI) when Europe enjoyed political stability, economic prosperity and cultural boom. Also in this period, artistic gained unprecedented development. Men pursued quality of life, which can be perceived from the paintings: the relations between the figures and the settings, the portraits, or the dresses, jewelries, and utensils.

On display are the works of the Glorious Times. It is the first time thatGiovanni Boldini, a special, originativeItalian artist and the representative painter of the Glorious Timesisintroduced to Chinese visitors. The paintings of ten artists mirror the social development of Europe as well as the affections and creations of the artists of the late 19th–the late 20th century. It is the first exhibition themed the Glorious Times ever held in Chinaand a rare opportunity for systematic studies on the art of that period of time. All the 54 exhibits are from Uffizi Gallery and Pitti Palace in Florence, Giovanni Boldini Museum in Ferrara, NationalGalleryofModernArtin Rome and NationalGallery in Parma.

To lead visitor to the genuine Glorious Times, the exhibition area resembles the landscape of Florence and Paris where Boldini lived. Soft fabrics are used to create a peaceful and calm atmosphere. The fonts and decoration are arranged in Italian style. Walking around, visitors may enjoy the artistic charm of Italy in the late 19th century.

The exhibition is open till October 9.

IV. Characters—The Symbol of Chinese Civilization

The Chinese Characters Exhibition, held in the Chinese Characters Experience Pavilion of the China Millennium Monument, is a salute to traditional Chinese culture. Chinese Characters are passed down for three thousand years, out of which we could sort out the relations between information transmission and design presentation, and between the signifier, the signified and ideographic design. The exhibition is an innovative and interactive presentation, entertainment and education program.

Written word allows human to record and express their cognition of the world with hands. Chinese characters are the embodiment of profound Chinese civilization. The Pavilion is a place of innovative and interactive education where visitors use their visual, verbal, hearing, acting and thinking abilities to experience of course of exploration, discovery and rediscovery. Furthermore, the exhibition consists of four theme areas, i.e.knowing, understanding, ruminating, and writing.Each of the areas is designed from the perspective of youngsters and consists of presentations and experiences. Visitors at different ages are encouraged to probe into the history and appeal of Chinese characters, to love them and write them down. The exhibition aims to explain the development of Chinese characters, reveal the charm and esthetics hidden in everyday life, and arouse public interest in splendid Chinese culture and Chinese characters.

The exhibition is open to group visitors on Tuesday and Friday and to individuals on Saturday and Sunday. Online reservation is required. www.hztyg.com.cn.

The 2016 Beijing Design Week is a kaleidoscopic event. The exhibitions are focused on innovation, exploration, participation and experience. Design and art are everywhere and ready to be discovered and perceived. We hope that the four exhibitions, from the perspectives of future and classic, East and West, technology and art, elite and mainstream, could help us understand the significance of design to human civilization.