Originally trained as an oil painter, sculptor, and graphic designer, Zhou Xiaohu is one of China’s leading figures in the field of video animation. In the late 1990s, he began experimenting with computers, gaming software, and digital animation—influences that can be seen in Channels of Socket Live. Made in 2003, the five-minute video reads as a commentary on techno capitalism. Babies grow alongside skyscrapers, only to be entrapped within the buildings despite the vast space they ostensibly afford. Organic and inorganic forms are equally subject to mechanisation and estrangement. Frequently referencing windows, which may otherwise suggest looking outward, Zhou creates a myopic world: apartment exteriors draw us into cell-like spaces inhabited by humans who stare at television and computer screens—another allusion to the window. Figures who seem to lack agency are subjected to the buildings in which they live and the media they consume, ultimately, ruled by the very technologies they themselves have built. Even with such a critical worldview, Zhou instils his characteristic irony into the piece through novel applications of colour. While the narrative resonates with our contemporary condition, the vivid neon colours suggest a (dystopian) fantasy.
Zhou Xiaohu (b. 1960, Changzhou) is a video-animation pioneer in China. Zhou trained as an oil painter but began using computers artistically in 1997. His work has included performance, installation art, photography, sculpture, animation, and video.