For the Shenzhen Biennale a New City skyline has been developed that exaggerates the contemporary Chinese phenomena of Taobao Villages and imagines a hyper dense urban region built entirely around the economies of the internet shopping giant. The structure of the Taobao website becomes the structure of the city and regions are organised based around the production of particular commodities. No longer hidden away in massive warehouses on the periphery the logistics infrastructure, factory floors and distribution centres of Taobao are now exploded into an entire urban landscape. Apartments overflow with goods spilling off the conveyor belts, automated robots rumble through the streets ferrying products from domestic assembly lines to storage and sorting towers before they are packaged up and dispersed across the planet. An entire city dances to the beat of our online clicks and internet shopping dreams.
New City is a series of animated skylines of the near future. In intricate detail they depict a speculative urbanism, an exaggerated version of the present, in which we can project new cultural trends, environmental, political and economic forces. Photographs taken on expeditions around the world with nomadic studio Unknown Fields documenting these emerging phenomena and weak signals have been meticulously stitched together and extrapolated to form a new city skyline. In this way ‘New City’ slips between the real and the imagined, between the documentary and the visionary, where speculative fictions become a way of exploring a world that the everyday struggles to grasp.
Taobao Village visuals by Liam Young and Alexey Marfin. Soundscape by Forest Swords.
Comissioned by the Shenzhen Biennale.