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Artist brushes up on his character

Updated: 2024-03-23 10:15 ( China Daily )
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Two visitors talk in front of Xu Bing's square word calligraphy Deep in the Heart of Texas at the exhibition, Xu Bing: Word Alchemy, on Feb 23. [Photo by MAY ZHOU/CHINA DAILY]

Xu's Square Word Calligraphy works are also on display. When Xu first visited the US in the 1990s, he designed a new calligraphic system that fuses the English and Chinese languages. In this system, English words visually resemble the square format and form of Chinese characters.

Commissioned by the Asia Society Texas Center, Xu debuts a new Square Word Calligraphy piece consisting of the lyrics of Deep in the Heart of Texas, a song written in 1941 and considered an unofficial Texas state anthem.

Xu's other acclaimed works on display include: Mustard Seed Garden Landscape Scroll, which creates a landscape using illustrations from The Mustard Seed Garden Painting Manual of Painting to reveal the schematized nature of Chinese painting and The Background Story: Autumn Colors on the Qiao and Hua Mountains, which renders a famous historical artwork through image projection with various discarded items.

In response to questions from the audience, Xu discussed the role of art in general and in the age of AI.

Xu says art is about expressing something that we don't have a clear answer for. "The advancement of human civilization primarily depends on science, reasoning and logic, but art is necessary to disrupt the established order and arrangement. Art is about un-schematizing our schematized understanding of society and culture," Xu says.

While some artists are nervous that AI might replace art and artists, Xu says he sees a positive aspect from the technology, "because it makes us rethink what art is" and "the intervention of new technology and data allows us to discern more closely what art is and what technique is".

The emergence of AI makes art more important, Xu says. "Our technology is advancing too fast, and we have to have something to question such development, and the only thing that can question technology and cannot be replaced by it is this little bit of art in our lives."

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