Monday, May 3, 2010

Two Views of Shanghai

From workers of the world unite! to 21-foot giant robot babies, China has something for every taste and point of view.

21-Foot-Tall Robot Baby To Defend People's Republic
The Shanghai Expo opened this week where visitors guests at will encounter a giant, cooing robo-baby built by the special-effects artists behind Alien vs. Predator. Is this ankle-biting abomination China's new superweapon? After watching this monstrosity in motion, we vote "yes" unequivocally.

Miguelín, the 21-foot baby, was created by Isabel Coixet of Spain. Even though Miguelín could be the next step in Spanish national defense, we instead (and totally uninformedly) choose to believe that this is the opening salvo in some baby-themed Cold War, complete with diaper-bombs and death rattles. Next thing you know, Gerber will be selling fatigues and Pedialyte will be laced with Old Grand-Dad to take life's edge off.

For those readers who refused to be swayed by reason, here's the "story" behind this robotic rugrat via Sociedad Estatal para Exposiciones Internacionales:

Miguelín is a 6.5 meters tall baby, electronically animated. It breathes, blinks and dreams with the cities that we will leave to future generations will smiling visitors as they walk into "Sons", the last of rooms that integrate the pavilion, which is managed by the Spanish Agency for International Exhibitions (SEEI) [...]

The baby's "Mother" is film director Isabel Coixet who has pointed out that with this collaboration she has wanted to stay accurate to the Expo Shanghai's Theme, "Better city, better life". Also that Miguelín is a reminder that tells us that "all our actions have direct consequences on our children's future and that we have to react to this", said the filmmaker in an encounter with the Spanish Press at the Instituto Cervantes in Beijing.

Inspiration for creating Miguelín, the absolute protagonist of Coixet's room, has been – according to the director- the passion for children shared by both the Chinese and the Spanish culture. "We have given this many thoughts. I have investigated along with Chinese assessors, friends and artists I know and both countries share this worship for children" – she said. (The feminist in me can't help but point out that the preference in China, if not in Spain, is for male children. But OK. Whatever you say, Isabel. )

Given its location within the Spain Pavilion, Coixet's room helps to appreciate with detail the curves of the wicker designed by Benedetta Tabliabue and looks like if baby Miguelín is receiving visitors in its own cradle. While the animated dreams of Miguelín have been created by designer Ignacio Fernández Maroto, the construction of the giant baby has been done in USA supervised by Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. at the Amalgamated Dynamis Inc. studios, responsible as well for cinematographic monsters such as Alien vs Predator o Starship Troopers.

Wait, it "dreams with the cities that we will leave to future generations?" That means it's become sentient and can communicate with our urban infrastructure. Oh dear Lord — we are witnessing the birth of Skynet.

Yeah, I don't really see how this fits with the theme of "better city, better life." Unless her vision of a better city involves regular kaiju-scale temper tantrums and diaper bombings

First it was the eight-armed people eater (Really Really Big  Buddha) that may or not be placed in our Civic Center. Let's just hope our esteemed supervisors don't decided to chose the giant Robot Baby instead. The last thing that SF needs is more poo or giant infant temper tantrums.

 This is a fascinating website which illustrates the history of modern China through it's posters. Their viewpoint is just as idealistic as that of Ms. Coixet but focuses on more down to earth issues - defeating the Japanese, building a modern China, the Great Leap Forward.

From the political struggles of the 1920's through today, the Chinese government has used posters to educate and rally public opinion. Bronzed and brawny workers wave the little red book on high, indignant peoples of the world stomp out the evil Imperial running dogs and pink cheeked children sing the praises of socialism and Mao. The posters are colorful and make no pretense that they are anything other than propaganda - colorful, graphically strong images conveying basic messages - not so different from propaganda of other times and other countries but unusual because we don't have much of a chance to see them here.The current show on Shanghai at the Asian has a few posters but nothing like the range displayed at this website. But in the case of the Asian, I think that they were limited by space but it's a show that I'd love to see the Asian do.

1 comment:

Louis la Vache said...

Re your comment at Zoomie Station, oui, «Louis» et Mme. la Vache vont à l'église St. Mark.