Based between Hangzhou and Shanghai, multimedia artist Rundong Zhao assembles an uncanny tableau of oddballs and antinomies. A product of the information age, his works capture the excitement and chaos of the Internet, often contemplating its unsettling ubiquity. His art practice employs 3D scanning and computer modeling to project dynamic aesthetics from our increasingly globalized culture. Combining an amalgam of references, Rundong creates an idiosyncratic visual language to examine how the virtual world has come to mirror and influence our own.
Beginnings in cyberspace
“Born on the Internet and raised with video games,” Rundong developed an early appreciation for navigating unconventional creative terrains. While studying intermedia art at the China Academy of Art, he discovered the promise of digital technology in facilitating wide-ranging artistic expression. His predilection for such strategies emerged from an initial desire to make movies. Upon realizing the inaccessibility of traditional filmmaking, he turned to 3D rendering to build elaborately stylized graphics and videos. Early experiments resulted in a short video about a spaceman on the moon, the first of many inquiries into archetype and myth. With the help of these virtual techniques, Rundong continues to generate hyperrealistic scenes that parallel his own experiences at the overlapping crux between reality and the digital realm.
Drawing inspiration from video games, cult movies, advertising, and pop culture, Rundong’s visual style has something of a maximalist quality. As if to alleviate the burden of representation, his works tend to integrate disparate components from both virtual and material environments. In his latest photo-series Allegorithm (2022), Rundong recontextualizes real-life people and objects within a set of enigmatic portraits. From workers maintaining the Trinity site to Danny Trejo in a Friends t-shirt, detailed images imbue each space with a playful spirit at the juncture between reverence and irony.
images by PILOTENKUECHE or supplied by artist
Rejecting traditional storytelling in favor of a more deconstructive approach, Rundong seeks to expose the fragmented nature of contemporary life. Instead of trying to impose a cohesive narrative about our world, he desires to reflect its complexity with further abstraction. In his video Hero, Illusion, Fabricated (2021), Rundong reimagines polarizing figures such as Bin Laden and Ye as analogous mythologies. Because this ultimately works to clarify, redefine, and discredit, the ensuing project is that of ideological emancipation. A consequent sort of disillusionment is meant to confront and disempower accepted narratives within the collective understanding of culture.
Alienation and community
As of recent works, Rundong has been focusing on the theme of alienation. This emanates from an increased anxiety with the way our digital lives have disconnected us from both ourselves and the outer world. To combat this, he yearns to build communities and connections through his art. Fascinated by the subcultures that exist within cities, he ventures out to hidden scenes and strange spaces to gather visual information and establish networks of collaboration. As a result, he forges a sense of shared experience and belonging through relationships built from new encounters. In sharing glimpses into their lifestyle and stories, Rundong sees his art as a means to spark fresh conversation.
written by Antonia Glaser
Keep up with the latest from Rundong through his instagram.
Fri 4 Nov
Sat 17 Dec 7-10PM