ZER01NE Strolls through Shanghai for Insight into Cities of the Future


Having been a fishing village, Shanghai rapidly grew into the mecca of global finance by playing a role as a major place for China’s reform and opening-up including the establishment of Shanghai Master Plan from 1990 and of Shanghai Free-Trade Zone in 2013; the significant change of the city could be called “the miracle of Huangpu River”. Shanty towns, docks, and rural villages were transformed into a financial center, and the area with factories that had been operated for more than 100 years became an art hub with a cluster of art museums. Currently, at the Waitan area on the west side of the Huangpu River remains the old town that represents modernization, while at Pudong on the east is formed a new town with high rise buildings forming a massive group of skyscrapers. Having multiple shades like other Asian cities rapidly modernized, Shanghai is getting the spotlight as a test board for future-oriented policies still being implemented by China, which faces the 40th anniversary of its reform and opening-up. To this city going through upheavals due to the request of the times and the historical task assigned upon it, the ZER01NE creators went on a research field trip in search of the future image of Seoul.

On May 23, 2018, 15 creators at ZER01NE got aboard an airplane bound for Shanghai for a three-day trip, the purpose of which was to search for insight for future cities in respective ways and to advance the ongoing individual or team projects. The days went on without any special restriction with each team consisting of three researchers and a manager experiencing the basic living necessaries of Shanghai and exchanging different views. We are now looking back on the Shanghai research field trip by following the steps made by the creators.

The place visited by a lot of creators in common was the West Bund area, which was designated as an cultural district in 2008. Many art museums and general museums can be seen here and international art events such as ART021 and West Bund Art & Design are held all year around. Viewing Rain Room and new works by Random International at the Yuz Museum, ROOMTONE said, “We set the course of this research trip according to the keyword ‘experience’. The city scenes with a lot of facades, massively scaled media exhibitions held in the city, and well-designed experiences helped us nurturing our new project of designing viewer-centered interactions by the VR technology.”

The Pink Nation Team consisting of Hwang Moonjung, Oak Jungho, and Kim Nahee visited the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea to acquire basic knowledge on the concept of the territories and the establishment of a nation for their construction project. As planned, they bought pink clothes and props at the Shiliu Pu Cloth Market and shoot a video related to the project at the provisional government, also looking closely at the structure of the government miniature they would use later for the exhibition display. Many creators also chose to visit Disneyland. Contemplating on the unfamiliar feeling experienced in moving spaces, Jo Ho-yeong analyzed Disney’s unique production that drew customers in by sensuous storytelling, observing the preferences and the course of moving of the customers as well as media technology such as 4K dome. Gim Jeongtae also listened carefully to the stereoscopic sounds created by the fences equipped with speakers, paying close attention to the space formed by sounds and arrangement of the attractions. Sensing the power of money and violence of the public power from the overwhelming scale, Gim also suggested a different view on the same place.

In addition, keeping microscopic observation on the city, most of the creators looked around book stores, markets, and alleys, especially impressed when seeing protruded drying racks, shared bicycles, electric motorcycles, and electric cars, which are widespread in Shanghai’s daily lives, from a bus or in residential areas. Lee Jangwon said, “Spaces are produced like products being led by the government, but the drying racks protruding from everywhere are exotic yet meaningful. Maybe I could seriously treat the relationship between humans and city through laundry as well,” while Yang Sookhyun said “There is little noise in Shanghai, which is completely different from Seoul. The strict government control watching for pollution made electric cars and motorcycles very common. Because it was so quiet, I think I had a different experience about a ‘city’, comparing Shanghai with today’s Seoul.

The basic role of a city is to coordinate the relationship between players that form the city network to raise the social value. Looking ahead at Shanghai after 100 years and comparing it with the future of Seoul, the ZER01NE creators shared honest contemplations on how to interpret the image of the state power revealed in the city, how deep and various the connection would be between individual lives and data of the city taking in and letting go millions of people, and how the technology applied on the daily level would change the living pattern. We are looking forward to seeing how the Shanghai field research trip, where the creators exchanged different thoughts, values, ideas, and experiences, would be reflected in the ZER01NE projects.