Heartbeat Shanghai



Heartbeat Shanghai

By Gu Zhenqing, curator:

“Heartbeat Shanghai” is a personified concept. If Shanghai, the international metropolitan is a giant of modern civilization, then the competitive power of scientific and technological innovation is his heartbeat and the dynamic traffic lines are his veins. For the past three decades since the Reform and Opening up, Chinese society experienced dramatic changes under the promotion of globalized market economy. Audi, together with Shanghai city, make progress hand in hand and co-create fresh outlook and new structure of the urban culture. With the strong technological driving force formed upon digital technology, internet information and the amazing development of industrial design, Audi is enhancing the developing speed of Shanghai and changing the life rhythm of Shanghai citizens; it is inspiring the daily poetry and romanticism of urban life. The brand spirit adhered to by Audi, namely “Progress, Sophistication, Sportiness”, enjoys a good coincidence with the Shanghai Spirit, which is “Acceptive, Pushing, Open-minded and Modest”. The common target pursued by Audi and Shanghai city, is not only a kind of open and progressive urban vitality, but rather and especially, a kind of life style of the future with humanity and technology enhancing the radiance and beauty of each other. Under the cultural context of “Heartbeat Shanghai”, the conversation and interaction produced by the encounter of artists and Audi brand, as well as the limitless originality and the great visionary generated in the combination of contemporary art and hundred-year Shanghai style culture, have well highlighted the optimistic spiritual pursuit and peaceful development, the realistic theme, of human.

1.1. HEARTBEAT TRACKS, 2012, photography

The Audi brand was destined for a place in history since it first emerged in its German hometown. From Audi founder August Horch's groundbreaking design of a new kind of automobile 1901 to Horch's leadership in the premium auto market and on through Audi's battles on the international market, the company has constantly led the field in technology, refinement and perfection, shaping trends in the worldwide automobile industry. Since China's reform and opening up, Audi has taken a positive role in the developing trends of Chinese society, bringing inspiration to the lives of the Chinese people. Audi's integration with China amounts to much more than a company entering into the country. It represents a clash, fusion and symbiosis between modern Western civilization and the ancient Chinese civilization. Heartbeat Tracks presents over a century of the company's storied history.

1.2. JIN JIANGBO, LIU PU: FACES OF AUDI PEOPLE, 2012, installation, 360×100×100cm

As a famous automotive brand, Audi entered into the Chinese field of vision along with the globalizing economy, entering into the everyday lives of an increasing number of Chinese people. As more and more Chinese people become Audi people, every one of Audi's breakthroughs and accomplishments comes to represent the shared contributions of more Audi people. Jin Jiangbo and Liu Pu have engaged in an enticing transformation of the Audi logo. Head on, it appears to be the normal Audi logo, but from other angles, it takes on a three dimensional form with rich changes, presenting the many dimensions behind the Audi spirit and the many layers of wisdom and effort therein. Using two hundred photographs of Audi workers, Audi owners and Audi fans provided by Shanghai Audi dealers or collected from society, the artists created a multilayered work of print art, fusing them together with the Audi logo.

1.3. DEKE ERH: SHANGHAI! SHANGHAI! 1990-2010, photography, 20 pieces, 50×60cm each

This series of photographs by Deke Erh contains images from Shanghai in the 1990s just as Pudong was beginning to develop, juxtaposed against aerial photographs of the festivities during the Shanghai World Expo in 2010. Deke Erh's bird's-eye perspective is witness to a broad view of this rapidly developing city. The buildings and streets seem to take on an air of humanity. They are growing, rising, twisting, leaping, turning and thriving like living things. Deke Erh uses his lens to focus on the dazzling growth of this city over the past twenty years, and uses photographic methods to create a visual case file of this city over the past two decades. The photographs appear to focus on the buildings, roads and waterways, but his careful framing reveals the artist’s reverence for the romanticism and innovation of the people of contemporary Shanghai.

1.4. PROGRESSIVE REFLECTION, 2012, installation with Audi A6L car, mirror paper

The past century of Shanghai's development is a miniature of China's tumultuous encounter with modernity. In this special-effects video, a all new Audi A6L is wrapped in mirrored paper and driven from Puxi to Pudong, passing streets and buildings that mark out Shanghai's path of development along the way. The mirrored surface of the Audi absorbs and reflects the architecture and flows of people as it passes, creating a dazzling tableau of the city's prosperity. This symbolic journey brings together the splendor of Audi’s engineering prowess and the radiance of Shanghai's modern civilization. As the Audi speeds down the highways, it almost seems to become a time machine, fusing the sights of Shanghai and the images of her people to this Audi A6L.

1.5. LU YUANMIN: 20 YEARS OF SHANGHAI, 1990-2010, digital print, 60 pieces, 50×60cm each

Drawing from his perspective as a common resident of Shanghai, Lu Yuanmin captures the touching details of the past two decades of this city. When each of these fixed “current moments,” trivial and transient, is linked together along an axis of time, the massive changes that have taken place in this international metropolis are presented as a series of clues before the viewer. Lu Yuanmin sets out from individual perception, but the sensitive precision of the observation and the intricate perception of the details form a balance between individuality and the greater public, revealing truths about urban life in Shanghai. Drastic historical changes take place in fits and starts, and progress is revealed through the minutest of details.

2.1. QIU QIJING: Audi-POWER TIME, carving, Hetian nephrite, 21×5cm

In Audi–Power Time, Qiu Qijing has carved the front of an Audi Q7 out of a small piece of Hetian nephrite jade, while leaving the other end in its natural shape. The car seems to be passing through the limits of space and time, breaking out of the stone. Movement and stillness coexist in the same piece of stone, a testament to the openness of contemporary conceptual artists towards Chinese traditional crafts. The idea that jade is the most beautiful stone is unique to the Chinese people, and its value is derived from the Chinese traditional values system. When the image of the Audi Q7, a symbol of the company's leading technological achievements, is carved into this stone with its rich cultural import, the vast, brilliant culture of this ancient land adds warmth and dignity to this painstakingly crafted automobile. Meanwhile, Qiu Qijing's incorporation of this manufactured object into a jade carving is a symbol of the connections between international contemporary culture and regional traditional culture.

2.2. SUN LIANG: MARINE BIOLOGICAL GARDEN, 2012, acrylic on leather sofa, 350×120×100cm

In Marine Biological Garden, artist Sun Liang has painted all manner of strange marine creatures onto a white leather couch from Shanghai. These creatures are products of the artist's imagination. They appear bizarre at first glance, but they are all composites and rearrangements of known organisms, and they drift, dart and spout water like any thriving marine creatures should. Here the artist's optimistic take on existence comes together with common people's hopes for a peaceful, comfortable and joyful life. As a leader in technical innovation, Audi also seeks ways to better serve mankind's present and future. Such a goal brings this leader of fashion and technology together with these whimsical creatures on the same path of values.

2.3. ZHANG HUAN: NINE DRAGONS ON Audi, 2012, acrylic on Audi A1 car

In Nine Dragon on Audi, artist Zhang Huan has painted the “nine dragons,” a symbol from traditional Chinese culture, onto the body of a red Audi A1 to create an artwork. 2012 is the year of the dragon, and nine is an auspicious number in China. In Chinese culture, the image of the nine dragons is a symbol of good fortune, power and the spirit of a people. The Audi A1 is a symbol of youth, innovation and technology, designed with a strong sense of speed and fashion, able to reach 100 km/h in 8.9 seconds. When these nine dragons encircle the Audi A1, it symbolizes the synchronized progress of the oriental dragon and modern technological civilization. From production to innovation, from imitation to creation, China has displayed infinite vitality on its path of rapid development and peaceful rise. Nine Dragon on Audi embodies Audi's ideal of using technology to promote cultural progress and places Audi's cutting edge status on full display.


2.4. LUO YONGJIN: VESSEL TOWER 2012, 2012, 12 channel screens, 1 minute, loop


LUO YONGJIN: ORIENTAL PEARL of VESSEL TOWER series, 2005, bronze, 95×30×30cm


LUO YONGJIN: TOMORROW SQUARE of VESSEL TOWER series, 2005, bronze, 70×30×30cm


LUO YONGJIN: BUND CENTER of VESSEL TOWER series, 2008, bronze, 95×37×37cm


LUO YONGJIN: JINMAO TOWER of VESSEL TOWER series, 2008, bronze, 115×37×37cm

Luo Yongjin's video work Vessel Tower 2012 takes the Shanghai World Financial Center, currently China’s tallest building, as its subject. Since the Reform and Opening Up, China’s new skyscrapers have been viewed as calling cards for China's cities. Their shapes often borrow elements from traditional Chinese artifacts and architecture. This building is like a “” vessel, an important artifact of ancient China, which serves to a certain extent as a symbol of power, ambition and dignity. Luo Yongjin uses his lens to separate the building into twelve components, filming each component with different techniques and then forming a video “collage” of the overall building. Through the artist’s rich intellectual perspective and unique visual language, the skyscraper becomes both the embodiment of the human value of technological progress and a totem of modern urban civilization's links to the past. The four bronzes in Luo Yongjin's Vessel Tower series transform the Oriental Pearl Tower, the Bund Center, Jinmao Tower and Tomorrow Square into Shang and Zhou dynasty bronze vessels, visualizing the unique qualities of China while fusing the Bronze Age with modern technological civilization.




Shanghai is driven by technology and culture, and the flows of cars, people and information come together to form the pulse of the city, so full of passion and vitality. In the two decades since Audi came to Shanghai, it has taken part in the city’s development while bearing witness to its breathtaking transformation. Here, over ten young artists focus their cameras on Audi cars and Audi people against the backdrop of this great city. Through Audi’s positive engagement with contemporary society, we can witness Audi’s current state and its development while coming to know Audi’s indispensable role in the lives of individuals, family and society. The entry of Audi culture into the lives of Shanghai’s residents presents the unique charm and progressive spirit of the people of Shanghai from a new perspective.




On the first day in 2012, nearly one thousand Shanghai residents took to the streets, documenting unforgettable scenes of this fast moving city through their own unique methods. As an international metropolis, every aspect of Shanghai from its society to its economy and culture radiate the sheen of modernity, the result of the tireless efforts and wisdom of countless Shanghai denizens. Through generation after generation of struggle, Shanghai’s urban culture walks with a new step as it creates a new history. History is fluid, and the people of Shanghai have fixed it in a series of colorful photographs. These images are the truest embodiment of the progressive aspirations and passion for life among the people of Shanghai. They capture the timeless theme of Better City, Better Life.


2.7. WANG XIAOHUI: GREEN-SHADOW, 2012, 1 channel screen projection, glass, 2 min 10 sec


Wang Xiaohui's video work Green – Shadow is projected onto a suspended piece of translucent green glass. The artist brings viewers instantly into Audi’s world of green technology to promote a dedication to environmental protection through green technology. In this floating visual experience, a series of hybrid engine Audi Q5's flash across the screen, first slowly then faster, taking on rhythmic movement. A needle of light emerges, moving like the arm of a stopwatch, pointing as the Audi automobile is transformed into a green leaf. The green leaf then begins to grow and spread, extending to cover the entire picture before revealing the four rings of the Audi logo. The video, played in a loop, presents the sustainability of green technology and provides a space for deep contemplation.




3.1. TAN DUN: ORIGIN AND FUTURE, 2012, audio-visual symphonic poem, 3 screens, 3 headphones


Origin and Future uses multimedia methods to present a series of symphonic poems about Audi and Shanghai. Through these works, the audience learns of how Audi and the modern technological civilization it symbolizes were gradually accepted by this unique city and how they established a special friendship. With his immense talent, Tan Dun illuminates a certain primal relationship between man, the automobile and the city. In this scene of interwoven sights, sounds and ideas, the spiritual energy contained within the Audi automobile is released on an infinite scale. Its identity is no longer a mere product of modern technology but a component of modern technological civilization. Audi’s spirit of progress, refinement and motion not only carries the essence of Eastern and Western cultural inheritance but also points towards the future of society. The roots of Audi form a connection between the origin and future of human civilization.


3.2. MIAO XIAOCHUN: WAVE IN THE EAST, 2012 animation, 3 channels projection, 5 min 10 sec, loop


Miao Xiaochun's digital animation is brimming with power but also rich in inner content. Taking Audi's four ring logo as its archetype, the animation begins with children playing with iron hoops in a traditional southern Chinese courtyard house over forty years ago and sets out on a montage narrative that takes us to the rapid development and convenient transportation of recent years. In a mere few decades, Chinese society has experienced a jarring change in the pace of life. Miao Xiaochun's animated narrative highlights the conflict between ideal and reality, expressing a powerful yearning for rational urban management and harmonious social development in the future. As the four Audi rings coalesce with contemporary man's imaginings of future society, people’s expectations of the future Audi also begin to emerge. The ideal homeland that Miao Xiaochun pursues is perhaps a peaceful, joyful, autonomous modern oasis rather than a city driven by efficiency, development and relentless desire. Such an ideal is in keeping with Audi’s concept of “inspiring the future.”


3.3. SHI JINSONG: BREED THE FUTURE, 2012, installation + video, AUDI R8 car, 42 inch monitor


Shi Jinsong has tightly wrapped an Audi R8 Spyder with fabricated granite stones of various sizes. As the lights flash and the sounds begin, the Audi R8 Spyder begins to slowly emerge from its cocoon and the stones fall in a seemingly orderly fashion reminiscent of a Chinese landscape garden. Rock features have always been an integral component of southern Chinese landscape gardens. The Audi R8 Spyder, manufactured with new lightweight metals, bursts from its stone enclosure unharmed, a testament to the spirit of the Audi brand. Technical advances spawned from innovative ideas undergo a uniquely spectacular progress of nurturing from traditions, incubation, birth and independent. Traditional civilization can live in harmony with contemporary civilization, with each benefitting from the other. As Audi leads the way in international contemporary culture, it also has deep and profound ties to China’s local traditional culture.


3.4. XU ZHONGMIN: LADDERS OF PROGRESS, 2010, installation, 265×390×390cm


XU ZHONGMIN: FOUR RINGS IN FULL BLOOM, 2010, installation, 4 pieces, 130×110×110cm each 


Xu Zhongmin's Four Rings in Full Bloom is a mechanical installation comprising four round flower blossoms, with each blossom creating a vibrant visual effect. From above, the line of rings presents the four rings of the Audi logo. The work appears to draw inspiration from China's traditional animated lanterns. The layers of resin people are moved about via bearings and conveyer belts, presenting an awe-inspiring mobile 3D virtual panorama, while the Audi logo becomes a kind of conceptual marker and signifier. Through mental projection, viewers can infer certain allusions to the future of human society marked by a desire to transcend reality and take to the skies. The title of Xu Zhongmin's other installation, Ladders of Progress, also contains similar allusions but places more emphasis on audience participation, inviting viewers to take in a greater view of the human spirit of progress and struggle from an all-encompassing perspective.

3.5. FAN KAIXI, XU LI: LIGHT OF Audi - PROJECT OF LED HELIUM BALLOON, 2012, digital image, light box, 150×100cm


FAN KAIXI, XU LI: LIGHT OF Audi - PROJECT OF WIND POWER, 2012, digital image, light box, 150×100cm


Using the Shanghai World Financial Center as their carrier, artists Fan Kaixi and Xu Li have created two public art concepts. The artists plan to use four LED-filled helium balloons or four electric windmills with LED lights around the edges to make a dazzling presentation of the Audi logo from the top of Shanghai. The use of LED lighting, helium and wind power are symbols of the wisdom embedded in modern civilization’s pursuit of sustainable development, embodying the intricate connections between improvements in the quality of urban life, the reduction of carbon emissions, environmental protection, virtuous cycles and the use of renewable resources. These concepts are perfectly in line with Audi's pursuit of “technological breakthroughs and inspiration for the future.” Fan Kaixi and Xu Li's installation concept utilizes the famous “wind pocket” on the Shanghai World Financial Center to create a concrete expression of the “here and now” cultural orientation of contemporary art and its spirit of urban cultural innovation.