Miao Xiaochun The Last Judgment in Cyberspace


Wu Hung curates Beijing-based Miao Xiaochun's newest photography and video, which reexamine Michelangelo's "Last Judgment" using digital technology.

Miao Xiaochun has generated a 3-D model of his body and substituted his image for each of the 400 figures in Michelangelo's painting. Using software to manipulate the model into different positions, he then integrated these 3-D figures into a virtual space based on Michelangelo's composition. He could then travel within the painting like a tourist, taking photos as he went along, from within the pictorial frame as well as from without. The artist worked with three assistants for six months to create these works.

Wu Hung writes, "What do the figures in Michelangelo's Last Judgement - not only Christ and the Virgin but also the angels, the saints, the Damned, and the Blessed - see at this fatal moment? -- What do they behold within the vast, mythical space in the fresco amidst a cosmic movement that is simultaneously orderly and chaotic? To Miao Xiaochun, to answer these questions means to enter the painting and to assume the varied gazes of the painted figures."

Miao Xiaochun's use of technology provokes new ways of seeing. Viewing the icon from inside and outside the picture frame raises such fundamental questions as "What lies beyond and after the Last Judgment?" and "How is the importance of main characters affected when rotating the pictorial space makes their positions peripheral?" Director Julie Walsh remarks: "the sheer scale of Miao Xiaochun's reinterpretation is mind-boggling. The physical reality of these photos is monumental. Miao Xiaochun has pioneered a new way of body-surfing through cyberspace in search of meaning."

Mr. Miao's photographs have been seen in museums and biennials around the world including solo shows at the Beijing Art Museum and Shanghai Art Museum, the Musée CRAC (France), The Museum of Contemporary Art (Taiwan), and the Ludwig Museum (Germany). His photography is featured in the "Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China" show that started at the International Center for Photography and Asia Society (New York), and traveled to Chicago, London's Victoria and Albert Museum, and other cities. He was also featured in the 2005 "Mahjong" exhibition of the Uli Sigg collection (Kunstmuseum, Bern).

Wu Hung is Professor and Director, Center for the Art of East Asia, at the University of Chicago. He is chief curator of the Gwangju Bienniale 2006 and curator of "Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China." He is a frequent curator of Walsh Gallery shows.

originally from actuphoto.com