“As China gradually merges with the rest of the world, it will become more difficult to tell which works are by Chinese artists.”
Born 1976, Beijing
Dai Hua works as a website designer, but he also uses computers for creative fun. “My art is just Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V—copy and paste,” he says. Painstakingly cloning and recombining tiny pixels (picture elements), he builds fantastically crowded panoramas like I Love Beijing’s Tiananmen (2006), a cavalcade of Chinese history that zooms in on the chaotic collision between tradition and Western influence. The title refers to a Communist song all Chinese children learned at school, and to an early video game whose soundtrack endlessly repeated the song’s first two lines. The 6.3-metre scroll teems with figures, from Confucius to Mao, terrorists, Transformer toys, and the man with grocery bags who stopped the tanks in 1989. Along similar lines, Birth and Destruction (2008) is a witty take on capitalism and its follies, Map of China 1911–2010 (2010) records the century of tumult since the 1911 nationalist revolution, and Wowzah! (2008) is an idiosyncratic ode to rock and roll.
Dai Hua also creates animations: Monkeys and Peaches (2009) is based on a story he read online, about an experiment in which monkeys who were punished for touching bananas taught new arrivals not to touch the fruit. He made a single change to the plot. In the classical Chinese tale Journey to the West, the character Monkey steals peaches, and “I thought peaches could better represent what people desire than bananas.”