The Creators Project Kicks Off in Beijing

<p>An unforgettable 3 days.</p>

Samantha Culp

The Creators Project grand finale in Beijing is gearing up to be a perfect storm of art, film, fashion, animation, and music – fitting, then, that its opening day was christened by a torrential downpour. But the rain hasn't dampened the excitement flowing through the (flooded) lanes of the iconic 798 Art District, where the Creators have taken over eight, count'em eight galleries for this weekend's festivities.

The exhibition halls include some of the most eye-popping installations from previous events – many in remixed or evolved versions – as well as never-before-seen pieces. One new addition is Hong Kong artist Kingsley Ng's "Musical Loom," which transforms a 250 year-old antique French loom into an instrument that can be "played" by manipulating light beams across the threads. Another is the ominous "Cloudy Mushroom" by Beijing sculptor Li Hui, best known for his works in layered plexiglass that reveals hidden images as light passes through the slices (such as a sportscar containing a dragon skeleton). From Shanghai, new media polymath Aaajiao (Xu Wenkai) presents a coin-operated "Memory Vending Machine" which dispenses memories in the form of invisible, inhalable nano-bots – a much better deal than the rinky-dink toys most vending machines sell. Cheap plastic toys are, however, the building blocks of "Chirps," a sound installation by Hong Kong-based Joao Vasco, in which dozens of mechanical birds tweet in a complex chain reaction. (Note: Though Twitter is blocked in China, we're finding a way around this so that we can join the birds in some illicit "chirping")

The plastic sparrows ably serenade the disembodied dresses of Vega Wang just adjacent, in the installation "The Beginnings" where the fashion designer chronicles her three most formative collections, including her first garments embroidered with electroluminescent wire (inspired by glow-in-the-dark sea creatures). The dialogue between nature and technology extends to Hojun Song's "Apple," which debuted in Seoul: a large, juicy fruit dangles in the dark, and begins to glow brighter and redder as viewers approach and take flash photos. Song's other piece, new to Beijing, is "Science is Fantasy," an offshooot of his ongoing OSSI – a plan to launch his own DIY satellite. Cheeky, geeky t-shirts and sashes reading "Science is Fantasy" and assorted slogans reveal Song's equal embrace of technology and whimsy. "Science seeks for the truth but will never get it – but this serves us well as human beings because it boosts our imagination," he explains, "We need that data to build on, and fill in the rest." The installation "Charlie's Tree" by Lumpens (also from Korea) also combines the organic and the digital, by allowing audience members to water a flowerpot that then "sprouts" in a kaleidoscopic, animated projection.

Finally, Radical Friend have gone one step further with "The Digital Flesh: Birth," the culmination of a project to collectively "conceive" a supreme mythological Being. At previous Creators Project events, visitors were three-dimensionally scanned to form layers of the creature's digital flesh, and here in Beijing, a special Digital Flesh Temple hosts a permanent séance to help "deliver" the organism. The Temple is an intense spectacle, equal parts pagan altar and futurist theatre, where performers dressed all in black sleep on low benches throughout the room. They are dreaming the creature into the being, but they might as well be psychically delivering the Beijing Creators Project to us all. And luckily they had some help – as a beautiful, life imitates art twist, right outside the Temple's curtain, leaning against the corridor wall, some exhausted gallery workmen were dozing right along with them. The Creators Project Beijing is born – tomorrow it fully awakes!