goodbye Beijing

It’s been a really great week, not sure where to start. The TASML Symposium was a great way to finally meet a number of people with whom I had corresponded only by email or Skype. And I bumped into several New Yorkers that somehow I’ve never met in person. I guess Beijing is the place to be.

There’s a lot of collective energy to push forward on international collaborations, exchange residencies, and more relationships between universities and new media organizations like Eyebeam. It was also a good chance to recognize the common challenges that we’re all facing and collaboratively think of ways to work together on getting beyond them. And I also picked up some good day-to-day tips: here’s a shout-out to Boris at V2_ for cluing me into the awesome letterbox plugin, providing 3-pane email viewing for OS X’s Mail. My only disappointment for the week was simply not having more time to actually have group discussions outside of the public symposium periods. The dinners were great, but after a Chinese liquor, it’s not much use trying to discuss business.

The last couple of days, I’ve just been exploring Beijing in more detail, yesterday I checked out 798 Space, a huge East German built art complex (you could literally walk for days and not see it all) that seems rather depressingly commercial now, though there are a few good spots still there. Of course it’s rumored to have been better ten years ago. Yaunfen New Meda Gallery was interesting with a good show up about the secret language of women in China. UCCA (also in 798) was too predictable, with its New York/Beijing show featuring the ubiquitous work of Terence Koh and Ryan McGinley with a few token Beijing artists thrown in since, ostensibly, it’s about a New York-Beijing exchange.

Bumping into Joan Linder at the departure gate this afternoon, she assured me that there’s a thriving scene here underneath the surface (she’s been working with Stephanie Rothenberg on a SUNY Buffalow/Beijing project). And there must be, with the crazy energy of this place, the generally youthful vibe, and the *serious* money. I don’t think I can find it in a week, but with a bit more time, I’d love to give it a try. There’s a general craziness in the air here, exciting and explosive, I wonder how it’s going to all shake down in the end.