CMET:Interactive Media is pleased to announce the launch of ChinaVine.org, a new version of a very popular academic website redesigned to embrace social media. ChinaVine.org is an ongoing interactive website project that educates English-speaking audiences about China’s cultural heritage. ChinaVine.org consists of volumes focusing on eleven villages in Shandong province, seven folk artists in Beijing, and two Miao festivals and two Miao performance centers in four villages in Guizhou Province. In development are volumes on the Yi language in Sichuan province, Song Zhang arts district in Beijing, Gaobeidian Folklore Village in Beijing, and contemporary artists and musicians who are self-consciously responding and incorporating tradition into their work in Beijing.
ChinaVine team members are incorporating interpretive strategies that challenge the traditional models of cultural interpretation used by “experts” working within singular disciplines. For example, John Fenn is experimenting with an approach that merges critical interpretation with mimetic engagement in the artistic practices of the Beijing based group FM3 (Christiaan Virant & Zhang Jian). FM3 works with field recordings and instrumental loops to generate dynamic sound sculptures that push beyond conventional notions of composition, song, and performance. FM3 distributes the sound loops from their Buddha Machine freely (pictured in media player) under a Creative Commons license that encourages reuse. Fenn is cutting snips from his September 2009 interview with Zhang Jian recordings into a mash-up wth some of the FM3 loops. The resulting methodological bricolage references the ChinaVine research project, but also the aesthetic agenda of FM3, the creative affordances of digital tools, and a nonlinear interpretive model. In doing so Fenn provides visitors with a multimodal opportunity to engage with the material at hand by decentering the questions he asked and the answers received. Visitor will be able to listen to Fenn’s creations as well as make their own, thereby participating in the emergent project.