On September 16, 2023, the "Brushstrokes, Exposure, Algorithms - Photography Art Exhibition from CAFA" was inaugurated at the Taoxichuan Art Museum of CAFA, co-hosted by CAFA and Jingdezhen Tao Cultural Tourism Holdings Group. The exhibition was jointly organized by the School of Experimental Art and SCI-THEC Art of CAFA, Jingdezhen Taoyi Cultural Development Co., Ltd., and the Taoxichuan Art Museum of CAFA.
Professor Lv Pinchang, the Dean of the Ceramic Art Research Institute of CAFA, Chairman of the Jiangxi Provincial Artists Association, Vice Secretary of the Party Committee, and Vice President (in charge of administrative work) of Jingdezhen Ceramic University, served as the Art Director of the exhibition. Professor Wang Chuan, Director of the International Cooperation and Exchange Office of CAFA, was the curator. Tan Bin, Vice Dean of the Ceramic Art Research Institute of CAFA, and Huang Zhen, Director of the Taoxichuan Art Museum of CAFA, were responsible for exhibition coordination.
The opening ceremony of the exhibition was attended by Qiu Zhijie, Vice President of CAFA, Liu Zili, Chairman of Jingdezhen Tao Cultural Tourism Holdings Group, and participating artists Feng Mengbo and Qi Zhen, as well as department heads from various departments of CAFA. The opening ceremony was hosted by Wang Shu, Director of the Development Planning Office of CAFA.
"27000 years ago, pottery shards; 6000 years ago, bronze artifacts; 500 years ago, oil paintings; around 1830, the invention of photography; in 1970, the emergence of computers; and in the millennium, the advent of the internet – in their respective historical contexts, all of these were akin to today's artificial intelligence, representing the technological art of their times." Qiu Zhijie expressed his understanding of "technological art" in his speech. In his view, photography, as a medium that once represented technological art, had a profound impact on painting and prompted artists of that era to reconsider the medium of painting.
Today, photography has also taken its place alongside painting and faces a dual threat from the ubiquity of "everyone is a photographer" and the rise of artificial intelligence. This threat has compelled photographers and visual artists to contemplate the future of photography and continuously innovate. This exhibition is a response and exploration by artists from CAFA to the question of "where photography is headed" in the face of these challenges.
In his address, Lv Pinchang expressed that the development of photography is closely intertwined with technological advancements and the evolution of technology. This connection presents enduring challenges and tasks for artists who use photography and imagery as their creative medium. They must not only remain keenly aware of technological developments and boldly experiment with them but also be vigilant against the potential trap of pursuing technology for technology's sake, allowing technology to dominate and losing sight of the fundamental essence of artistic exploration and creation.This exhibition serves as a milestone summary and presentation of the achievements and growth in the field of photography at CAFA.
"I entered the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1987, and I can say I've witnessed the entire process from primitive tools to artificial intelligence," Feng Mengbo exclaimed in his speech. He acknowledged the immense impact of technological progress on artistic creation. He also emphasized that behind every medium, it is the "human" element that remains most crucial. Whether it's ChatGPT or midjourney, they are ultimately platforms and tools. What truly makes them interesting are the authors and questioners who provide rich content. Without them, the well of creativity would run dry after a few iterations. No matter how advanced computer technology becomes, it can never replace photography, a traditional medium that directly confronts reality. This photography exhibition, showcased in the porcelain capital, holds special significance as a representative of Chinese traditional culture. Ultimately, our focus remains on the creative potential of the human subject.
"Exhibitions are a manifestation of academic thought, containing the academic judgments and attitudes of participating artists and curators towards a specific question," curator Wang Chuan explained the initial intention behind the first photography and image exhibition at the Taoxichuan Art Museum of CAFA, which has been established for eight years. He discussed how, in today's context, photography has become a broadly accessible visual medium and faces challenges both from technology and its own identity. The professionalism and value of photography have become unavoidable questions.
"What is the fundamental nature of photography?" This is a question that every artist at the Central Academy of Fine Arts who is involved with photography constantly ponders. They continuously explore the relationship between photography and technology, as well as its connection to painting, which is the essence of the exhibition's theme, "Brushstrokes, Exposure, Algorithms." While the scale and quantity of this exhibition are limited, it provides an opportunity to delve into the minds of the creators behind the artworks, to understand their thoughts, and to glimpse the evolving state of the photographic medium within the unique environment of CAFA.
In his address, Liu Zili, Chairman of the Jingdezhen Tao Cultural Tourism Holdings Group, looked back on the 35 exhibitions held at the Taoxichuan Art Museum of the Central Academy of Fine Arts. He highlighted the diverse range of exhibitions hosted there, which included traditional clay sculpture exhibitions, as well as cutting-edge photography exhibitions. The museum showcased classic works by senior artists from CAFA, while also presenting the latest achievements in art education. He expressed his anticipation for more exhibitions and artistic presentations to take place at the museum in the future.Furthermore, Liu Zili explained the essence of the youthful Taoxichuan culture as characterized by "real beauty, diversity, warmth, delicacy, and romance." This culture embodies a sense of authenticity, diversity, and a warm and romantic atmosphere.
The opening ceremony was hosted by Wang Shu, Director of the Development Planning Office, CAFA.
Today, photography, this technological marvel from the 19th century, has been continuously empowered by the rapidly evolving technology, and it has grown into a vast forest. The progress of technology has enriched photography, leading to an extreme expansion of its medium and a significant increase in its volume. Photography has continuously merged with different fields at various points, generating new content and taking on new forms. However, this process has also diluted its original sense of mystery and, in some cases, weakened its inherent status in people's minds. For artists who use photography as their creative medium, they face a persistent challenge and task: to remain sensitive to technology and to boldly experiment, while always guarding against becoming captives or being dominated by it. In the face of its original benchmark, we firmly believe that photography will continue to coexist with painting, a companionship that has lasted for centuries, mutually enriching and driving each other, shining in harmony.
This exhibition is set against the backdrop of the Central Academy of Fine Arts' world-class art discipline construction and focuses on the key characteristics of photography art creation at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in recent years. It transcends the traditional boundaries of the photography medium and presents over 90 works by 15 faculty and students from CAFA. These works showcase the explorations and attempts made by artists in response to these typical questions, collectively forming a diverse and rich contemporary academic sample. Through the observation and organization of these works, the curator attempts to show the state of photography's growth and existence within the academic system of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, revealing the underlying logic of each individual's creative process behind the works, as well as the universal internal connections between representation and rules.
The exhibition will be open until November 16, 2023.