aaajiao, “Body Shadow,” 2015, Videos, 4'59" and 8'27". Shanghai Himalayas Museum installation view, 2017


The culmination of years of research comparing the theory of fractals and Chinese philosophy (in addition to medical science), “Body Shadow” is inspired by Hideki Takayasu’s 1986 book Furakutaru (Fractals in Physical Science [Nonlinear science: theory & application]) and utilizes the meridian system of traditional Chinese medicine. This system posits the existence of a series of pathways within the body through which life-energy or qi flows. aaajiao developed an algorithmic methodology that enables him to scan the human body using 3D imaging and track a new set of meridian systems. Combining these algorithms with the art of tattooing, he maps this internal micro-universe on his body and transplants it into the gallery space through video works. He attempts to represent the energy sources of his own meridian system, portraying how much these ever-changing and active channels reflect his individuality.

The integration of new technologies and approaches into the ancient practice of Chinese medicine allows it to be understood in a new context that can be expanded beyond the visual art realm. Collaborating with both a traditional Chinese medicine doctor and a tattoo artist, aaajiao demonstrates the great potential for research that stretches beyond niche fields of knowledge. The holistic approach that Chinese medical philosophy endorses may also offer insight into the treatment of illnesses caused by deteriorating environmental conditions. In order to heal the planet we must first understand its problems. Likewise, to heal ourselves we must first comprehend the many systems of our bodies, and not just those found in Western medicine.

aaajiao is the online handle of Xu Wenkai, a Shanghai-based new media artist, avid blogger, and free thinker. His works tap into the most current trends of thought surrounding the Internet sphere, exploring emerging controversies, and phenomenon related to data processing, blogsphere/wemedia, and filtered information. He borrows elements from different fields with an extended scope to portray the young generation harnessing the power of cyber technology and the ever-present social media. His work has been featured in both international and domestic scenes, including: Global Control And Censorship at ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe, Germany (2015) and Cosmos – Limited and Limitless, Existence and Co-existence at 21st Century Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai (2014). In 2014, he won the Jury Prize from Art Sanya Awards and was nominated for the 1st OCAT – Pierre Huber Art Prize. In 2015, he was nominated for the Young Artist of the Year, 9th Award of Art China.