Summer Research Dispatch: Chris Chan & International Art Collaborations

01 Sep, 2020

Summer Research Dispatch: Chris Chan & International Art Collaborations

Each year, the Berkeley Center for New Media is thrilled to offer summer research awards to support our graduates in their cutting edge work. Below, Chris Chan describes how he used the funds to develop collaborations with artists in Taiwan and China, after travel was curtailed by COVID-19.

The year 2020 has taken the world much by surprise, and events this summer have been as busy as they have been challenging to say the least. Summer traveling plans have been converted instead to virtual production amid emergency management and relocations.

Ongoing Projects:

With regard to transnational collaborations, in-person and ethnographic fieldwork has been delayed due to the ongoing pandemic and unforeseen complications in global travel restrictions. However, progress on the effort has not been delayed. In terms of collaborative projects, a critical virtual channel of communication has been established between contemporary artists in China and Taiwan and U.C. Berkeley. Efforts are ongoing to follow a novel project combining social art with anthropological inflections happening in the Fall. Crucial conversations and cross-cultural and inter disciplinary dialogue will take place in China, but also at Berkeley, mediated by a new era of virtual technologies, live-streaming, digital exhibition, and instant communications over vast distances, as necessitated by current social distancing and global conditions. Collaborations with environmental artists in Taiwan have led to a new international organization of re-mediated marine waste through artistic interventions. This collaboration will begin this fall and extend into 2021.

Works are also underway to create a dual physical and virtual space at Berkeley to connect to a web of virtual galleries that will not only further global cooperation in terms of art practice and dialogue, but also enable local American students and communities to take part virtually in a local and global endeavor during a crisis that is both local and global in scope.

The BCNM award was critical not only for the progress of the aforementioned tasks, but crucially at a moment of crisis that threatened the livelihoods of many communities, myself included. At a moment when pre-arranged travel plans were abruptly canceled, and lost resources were coupled with emergent expenses of relocation and preventive response measures, the BCNM award served to buffer the challenges of a crisis, while at the same time, reinforce the necessity for a renewed focus on new media technologies in coming up with solutions for the future. It is in this spirit that the scholarship money was able to further new projects that have pushed for a digital and progressive network of contemporary modes of art and culture in laying the groundwork for future collaborations to come.