Video: Sean Leow on China's Bottom-Up Surge in Creativity

Sean Leow is the co-founder of NeochaEDGE, a Shanghai-based creative agency that brings together some of the best visual art and music content from China's emerging creative community with leading global brands. This past March 9, Leow gave a multimedia presentation on that community at Asia Society New York.

Leow explained that NeochaEDGE focuses mainly on China's grassroots creative community rather than traditional fine artists like Ai Weiwei. The majority of this community belong to the "post-'80s" generation, having grown up in the comparatively poorer 1980s and witnessed the enormous changes in Chinese living standards through the '90s and into the 21st century. This generation draws on a widely mixed cultural-historical heritage in its creative work; as an example, Leow showed a clip from an animation entitled "Rubik's Cube and Ping Pong," by animator Lei Lei.

Leow's presentation focused on "neo-traditionalism," a style centered on remixing the old (i.e., traditional forms and motifs) with the new (contemporary forms). Leow showcased visual art that demonstrated both the blending of classical Chinese imagery with modern technologies and this style's integration into commercial contexts like advertising.

NeochaEDGE took neo-traditionalism to a new level with its Chengyu Visualized project in 2011. Chengyu is a Chinese idiom in the form of a four-character phrase; by presenting chengyu through a combination of typographic design and illustration, NeochaEDGE made some of the more obscure Chinese idioms accessible to a larger audience. 

Video: Sean Leow's complete Asia Society New York talk (28 min., 50 sec.)

About the Author

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Stella Guan is a Multimedia Intern for the Asia Society. She is a graduating senior at La Salle University with a major in Mass Media. She is originally from China and speaks four languages.