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LANDSEASKY: Revisiting Spatiality in Video Art

2014.04.20 - 06.15 closed

OCAT Shanghai is proud to present LANDSEASKY: Revisiting Spatiality in Video Art, a group show bringing some of the most interesting and challenging video artworks from 17 international contemporary artists to 3 countries in a major Australia-Asia tour. The exhibition opens across multiple prestigious museums and galleries in China Australia and Korea, and will open in OCAT-Contemporary Art Terminal Shanghai on 20 April 2014.

LANDSEASKY speaks to the three elements represented by the horizon line. In its simplest form, the horizon can be represented as a single line across a plane or page. In this exhibition, some of the world’s sharpest contemporary artists use the horizon line as a starting point to explore some of the most fundamental and complex themes in both art and our perception of the world.

This is the latest touring project by award-winning Australian arts organization MAAP – Media Art Asia Pacific (MAAP). Their last touring exhibition ‘Light from Light’ was selected as the best Visual Art project in the Australian Arts in Asia Award last year.

LANDSEASKY carries the hallmarks of MAAP’s unique approach to cross-cultural exchange. Artists from Australia, Asia and Europe are brought together in a conversation around a shared theme. New artworks created for the exhibition will be in dialogue with some early 1970s video artworks by influential Dutch conceptual artist Jan Dibbets. Dibbets is one of the early pioneers to apply the camera as a tool in contemporary art. Exhibited in LANDSEASKY are his videos Horizon I (1971), Horizon II (1971), and Horizon III (1971), which manipulate the camera frame to challenge the way we perceive the horizon line while flattening an abstracted screen space.

The exhibition is presented in new configurations in each country of the tour. In OCAT Shanghai, LANDSEASKY will attract additional Chinese artists and its layout is conceived to match and at the same time contrast with Shanghai buzzing urban environment. In fact Shanghai has land, sea (and rivers) and sky just like any other city in the world: here it takes a bigger effort of imagination to see beyond the high-rises and the altered horizon line. Through artists’ intellectual approach we see different spatial problems articulated and explored in screen media and video space. This exhibition nods to the beginning of conceptual video art practice reminding us of a rich critical past that can be recalled and reframed to refresh our conversation in our contemporary urban society.

LANDSEASKY featured artists include: Paul Bai (Australia), Lauren Brincat (Australia), Jan Dibbets (The Netherlands), Barbara Campbell (Australia), Wang Gongxin (China), Shilpa Gupta (India), Zhu Jia (China), Yeondoo Jung (South Korea), Derek Kreckler (Australia), Giovanni Ozzola (Italy), Joao Vasco Paiva (Portugal/Hong Kong), Wang Peng (China), Kimsooja (South Korea), Craig Walsh (Australia), Sim Cheol-Woong (South Korea), Heimo Zobernig (Austria), Yang Zhenzhong (China).

The exhibition LANDSEASKY: Revisiting Spatiality in Video Art is organized by OCT Contemporary Art Terminal Shanghai, Griffith University Art Gallery and MAAP SPACE in Brisbane. Other participating venues include museums and galleries in Seoul including Artsonje Center, Gallery IHN, Lee Hwaik Gallery, ONE AND J Gallery, Opsis Art, and Gallery Skape.

The exhibition is partnered with a number of Asian and Australian organisations including Griffith University through Griffith University Gallery, the Queensland University of Technology and the QUT Confucius Institute.


Jan Dibbets’ “Perspective Corrections” dating from 1968 transformed the way we think about photography as an art medium. His calculative and conceptual approach was also realized in film to articulate his particular aesthetic canon that is analytic, disciplined and reductive. He produced many short films in the ‘Horizon’ series from 1970 and 1971 and continued his investigations with further work in his 2007 photographic series ‘Land and Sea Horizons’. As a starting point, these works use a very common understanding of landscape — a straight line across a page to signify the change of land to sky or sea to sky — and go on to transform this representation into an extended investigation of spatial effects and perspectives. It is from this premise, an investigation into commonality and simplicity of the horizon motif, that is the launch point of the LANDSEASKY exhibition.

Artists have made some stunning video works that use the horizon line in sublime ways. The limitation of the image (the spatial representation) restricts the visual elements to reveal the artists’ approach. The foundational curatorial concern looks toward the artists’ analysis of screen space as an image with both sculptural and conceptual attributes. The curatorial project challenges the illusionist elements that we readily consume in screen culture and sharpens our focus on the medium of video by the selection, inevitably comparing and contrasting the strategies each artist articulates within the restriction of the curatorial boundaries. 

The works selected so far, have a very strong physical and visual impact. However, the exhibition extends the investigation of video space to include other subtle approaches that will add and amplify the discussion of spatiality in video. For instance, some of the proposed works update the connection between history and society with a fresh perspective. 

Peter Weibel succinctly summarizes the approach to avant-garde Media Art of the 1960's and 1970's as anti-illusion and goes on to describe the allusion and illusionary tendencies of art making in the eighties that influenced video art production of the 1990's and onwards (Synthetic Times, 2008 pp.112-116). Weibel's finding resonates with American spatial philosopher Edward Soja who coined the term Thirdspace, he regards : 

“Everything, including spatial knowledge, is condensed in a communicable representations and representations of the real world to the point that the representations substitute for the real world itself.” (Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-and-Imagined Places, 1996 p.63) In order to move away from the illusionistic nature of the visual representation that both Weibel and Soja raise, the re- visitation of spatiality in art making proposes a rational incision point that would re-establish the relevance between representation and the reality. 

The curatorial approach is to bring to the foreground evidence of artists working with an analysis of screen space that demonstrates a variety of understandings of spatiality through the form of video art. In the wake of Postmodernism, by focusing on the notion of spatiality, this exhibition project aims to re-evaluate the relationship between the dichotomies such as virtual and actual, subject and object, abstract and real, and to a broader context, the modernity and post modernity.

Kim Machan