Beijing | Nov 2018


8-10 November + 14 November symposium


@MAB18 | Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) | GOETHE-INSTITUT

The Urban Media Art Academy 2018 program addresses a contemporary condition in Beijing characterized by rapidly shifting and philosophically contradicting energies that progress the hybrid city. Changing city plans up through the twentieth century with transition from a planned economy to a market economy, today progressing with development of high-tech industries and rapid urban growth, have shaped an urban atmosphere of growth and rationalization. Different philosophies of energies have accompanied the city’s development: Old Beijing was built up around ‘acupuncture points’ or nodes of energy, the transition to a market economy has been driven by rationalizing energies, and material thinking post the cultural revolution is informed by simultaneous economic dynamics and ancient philosophies of material energy (气 or Qi). Energies distributed from different philosophies and historical phases of the city take up the air, atmosphere and heartbeat of the city, and their negotiation determine the future conditions of living for citizens in Beijing.

With this academy program we will examine how media art in the context of Beijing can intervene in and negotiate the city’s spaces of shifting energies: What can urban media art do as a mean of intervention among shifting energies (from ancient to historical and hi-tech) in Beijing, and how may art contribute to negotiating Beijing’s urban futures?

The program will combine learning on urban media art histories, urban theory, curatorial inquiries and criticality as well as ‘knowledge from the field’ via conversations with professionals. It will introduce participants to methods of artistic research, concept development and artwork proposals for creative city making.

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8 November, 9:30-18:00 at Central Academy of Fine Art (CAFA) and Goethe-Institut Beijing
9 November, 9:30-18:00 at Central Academy of Fine Art (CAFA) and Goethe-Institut Beijing
10 November, 10:00-18:00 at Central Academy of Fine Art (CAFA) and Goethe-Institut Beijing
14 November, 14-17 at Media Architecture Biennale Beijing
17 November, evening, Digital Calligraffiti Performance at 30 Years Anniversary of Goethe-Institut Beijing

Central Academy of Fine Art (CAFA): No.8 Hua Jia Di Nan St., Chao Yang District, Beijing, P. R. China, building 7 room 813
Goethe-Institut Beijing: Beijing Shi, Haidian Qu, BeiXiaGuan, Zhongguancun S St, 2


28 October | participant registration deadline
30 October | online welcome
30 October-7 November | online preparation, readings distributed
8-10 November | program in Beijing
14 November | afternoon symposium at MAB, Beijing and Digital Calligraffiti performance
17 November | Digital Calligraffiti Performance
19 November | exam submission



Dr. Tanya Toft Ag, Urban Media Art Academy and City University of Hong Kong
Artist and Professor Maurice Benayoun, School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong
Susa Pop, Urban Media Art Academy and Public Art Lab



Michael Kahn-Ackermann, founding director of Goethe-Institut Beijing, former regional director of Goethe-Institut China and Taiwan
Prof. Chang Zhigeng, CAFA
Professor Martijn De Waal, Play & Civic Media, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences
Prof. Dr. David Bartosch, School of International Relations and Diplomacy, Beijing Foreign Studies University
Petra Johnson
Maurice Li, guest lecturer at Beijing Hospitality Institute and founding partner of CHAO
Kyu Choi, AsiaNow
Janet Fong, Independent Curator, Co-Founder of International Art Exchange and Residency and Art Director of Moving Art Museum
Professsor Kristy H.A. Kang, School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University Singapore
Professor Marcus Foth, Urban Informatics, QUT Design Lab, Brisbane University
Magnus Ag, Founding Director of Bridge Figures
Don Karl, From Here to Fame
Michael Ang, artist and engineer, ABS Crew





Since ancient civilizations, art has participated spiritually, conceptually and materially in city-making – building up societies and architectural structures as frescos, reliefs, painting, glass, etc. Today, cities around the world are being upgraded, augmented, and made artificially intelligent with technology at a pace not accounting for environmental consequences of our human-made innovations. In this context, the attention to securing the participation of art and art’s inquiry as part of the foundation on which our future societies will be built evokes a need for including ethics and holistic consciousness at the human scale in our fast-paced process of urban change.

The symposium positions urban media art as a matter of global response to current urban urgencies; as an interdisciplinary and inter-knowledge domain of practice and theory – asking:

How can urban media art contribute to ‘shifting’ matters and energies of fast-developing hybrid cities, towards ethical and sustainable ends? What modes of consciousness in the art (skills, concerns, discourses and qualities) do we need to further (and teach) in order to engage with current urgencies of cities and societies – in a global perspective.



Michael Kahn-Ackermann, founding director of Goethe-Institut Beijing, former regional director of Goethe-Institut China and Taiwan


Artist and Professor Maurice Benayoun (keynote), School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong
Professor Martijn De Waal (keynote), Play & Civic Media, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences


Professsor Kristy H.A. Kang, School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University Singapore
Professor Marcus Foth, Urban Informatics, QUT Design Lab, Brisbane University
Kyo Choi, founder of AsiaNow




Braester, Yomi. “Traces of the Future: Beijing’s Politics of Emergence.” In Ghost protocol : development and displacement in global China. Carlos Rojas, Ralph A. Litzinger (eds.). Duke University Press, 2016.

Hui, Yuk and Geert Lovink. “for a philosophy of technology in china: geert lovink interviews yuk hui.” In Parrhesia 27 (2017), pp. 48-63.

Ippolito, Jean M. “Electronic Media Art from China: New Visions Bring Messages from the Distant Past.” In Leonardo, Volume 50, Issue 2 (April 2017), pp. 160-169.

Massey,Doreen. “A Global Sense of Place.” In Marxism Today (June, 1991), pp. 24-39.

Mullis, Eric C. “The Ethics of Confucian Artistry.” In The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 65, No. 1, Special Issue: Global Theories of the Arts and Aesthetics (Winter, 2007), pp. 99-107.

Toft, Tanya. “What Urban Media Art Can Do_Introduction.” In What Urban Media Art Can Do – Why When Where & How, eds. Susa Pop, Tanya Toft, Nerea Calvillo and Mark Wright. Stuttgart: Av Edition, 2016.

Further readings:

Hui, Yuk. The Question Concerning Technology in China: An Essay in Cosmotechnics. Falmouth: Urbanomics, 2016.



From the Beijing program you will:

  • Develop familiarity with conceptual and practical dimensions of artistic and curatorial projects with urban media art in the urban (geographical and networked) context of Beijing, China
  • Be able to characterize and problematize relevant hypotheses relating to artistic thinking and practice with urban media art
  • Develop and test critical reflections and thinking about urban media art in the urban domain
  • Learn about methodologies of Action Research and theoretical and practice-based theories, epistemologies, and approaches of artistic thinking and practice with urban media art – and explore theories ‘at work’ in the concrete urban context
  • Be able to combine viewpoints and methodologies from across disciplines to contextualize, problematize and conceptualize media art in the urban context
  • Learn how to formulate in illustrated writing an artistic or curatorial perspective for urban media art between theory and practice


Deadline 19 November

After the program all participants will submit a text (max 600-800 words) in English, which will present your analysis and perspective on Beijing as a context for urban media art. Your answer to the question posed in the call for this academy: What can urban media art do for Beijing? was an initial exercise for this text, and you may want to build on your reflections submitted here.

Your illustrated text should address the following:

  • A title relating to Beijing as a City of Shifting Energies
  • Introduce your critical perspective on this urban issue (of shifting energies) in Beijing
  • Present a brief urban/historical contextualization of the issue (e.g. refer to the city’s urban, architectural, political, philosophical, sociocultural, spiritual or other histories of your choice) – from minimum three different disciplinary perspectives – with references where appropriate
  • Reference a concrete urban space or environment in the city in which you locate this issue and can exemplify (briefly describe the character of the space, people in it, its dynamics and fluxes, etc.)
  • Reflection on artistic trajectories, tactics, practices, orientations and interdisciplinary encounters and methodologies that could do something with regards to these issues, perhaps with references to concrete works or artistic movements in Beijing
  • Conclude: what could urban media art do for Beijing – as a city of shifting energies? Why, when, where, and how?
  • Please include minimum three visual images/illustrations to support your text (this you may gather during our field trip on Wednesday)

After feedback and evaluation (pass/no pass) based on the above guidelines and demonstration of the acquired learning goals, your texts will be edited and combined in an UMAA report on Beijing summing up our investigations and findings during this program.



The program is free and open to students, artists, designers, architects, creatives, city-makers, architects and others with interest in urban media art and what it can do for the city of Beijing. Registered participants will receive a certificate upon completion.

Registration deadline: 28 October 2018



The program is free for participation and open access, but please register/apply for certificate and access to future programs. Registration is open until October 22, 2018, or until full (20 participants). Confirmation on registered participation´s date to be confirmed .

Please submit to

  • Full name and title, 100-word bio, link to website, contact email
  • 100-word short statement: What can urban media art do for Beijing?
  • Image (square, b&w)



The Urban Media Art Academy is founded in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut Thailand. Further founding and networking partners are the Connecting Cities Network and the Media Architecture Institute. UMAA is co-funded in the framework of Future DiverCities and the European Union, Creative Europe Program.




Digital Calligraffiti Campaign: // Digital Calligraffiti Movie:

More info about the project: