China and Inner Asia
The advent of internet technology has changed Chinese realities more drastically than anywhere else with the wide application of online tools. A smart phone fulfills most of one’s daily needs: transportation, meals, work, and social. This roundtable attempts to tackle how technology transforms the modes of reality and shapes our experience of the real. A group of speakers across different disciplines will engage a conversation on technology and experiential reality with various examples from social media, museum, theater, video game, and film. Hao Wu, the acclaimed documentary director will contribute with his most recent film--People’s Republic of Desire (2018), an intimate yet in-depth portrayal of the live-streaming community in China. He will delve into the baffling reality of how virtual relationships are replacing real-life human connections in the video-based social network. Yang Liu, the curator of “Power and Beauty in China’s Last Dynasty” at Minneapolis Institute of Art will discuss the innovative form of museum exhibition by collaborating with the avant-garde theater director Robert Wilson. They dispense with the conventional way of providing captions but instead create an ambience with sound, scent, and light to display the objects. Based on extensive fieldwork on spectacular performances staged at popular tourist sites in China, Enhua Zhang will examine the aesthetics and reception of immersive theater, with Wang Chaoge’s Encore Dunhuang--the first experimental and experiential play along the Silk Road—as an example. As a computer game aficionado, Feng Yan will review how video game changes people’s life in China and how Chinese gamers adapt to and transform the global gaming community. An established scholar on reportage, Charles Laughlin will probe into how documentary and its sister genre neorealist narrative films make use of visual manipulation such as animation and computer-generated imagery, not to deceive the viewer, but rather with the effect of drawing attention to the artificiality and partial truth of the documentary image. As a whole, this roundtable explores how technology forges the intricate relationship between experience and reality, illusion and delusion, perception and truth, utopia and dystopia, connection and isolation, as well as materiality and ethics.