Meanwhile in China … Miao Ying and the Rise of Chinternet Ugly
This article examines a series of internet artworks by the artist Miao Ying (b. 1985). Contextualizing her digital collages in relation to China’s online culture and media spheres, it situates the contemporary art world’s engagement with internet art in relation to anti-aesthetics and the rise of what has been termed Internet ugly. Interrogating the assumption that internet art emerging from China can only belatedly repeat works of Euro-American precedent, it argues that Miao’s work presents a dramatic reframing of online censorship, consumerism and the unique aspects of vernacular culture that have emerged within China’s online realm. Demonstrating a distinctly self-conscious celebration of what has often disparagingly been labeled The Chinternet, Meanwhile in China can be seen to emerge out of the broader contradictions of internet art practices that parody the relationships between The Chinternet and the World Wide Web, global capitalism and Shanzhai [fake or pirated] aesthetics, online propaganda and media democracy, and the art market’s relationship to the virtual economies of an art world online.
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