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San Francisco Museum Exhibit Offers Asian Cyberpunk Futurism

Asian Art Museum asian cyberpunk exhibit

It's part comic book, part motion picture. Part history and part fantasy.

 SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- It's part comic book, part motion picture. Part history and part fantasy.

The immersive experience of Kongkee: Warring States Cyberpunk has made a splashy landing at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, its first stop in the U.S.

The warring states period was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by violent conflict.

Kongkee, a London-based animator and visual artist who grew up in Hong Kong, says the exhibit follows the soul of a legendary Chinese poet on a journey from an ancient kingdom to an imagined 21st century Asia that features cyborgs and an electric rock soundscape.

"Apart from all this fancy and psychedelic image and vibrant color, what I really want to do is connect emotions with people. Maybe it's the frustration toward technology or just feeling lost within yourself," Kongkee told KPIX.

Museum visitors can step into a sci-fi neon dream -- Kongkee's version of "Asian futurism." Here, people question the duality of life and death and what it is to be human.

"When I was growing up I watched a lot of sci-fi animation from Japan -- anime ... It really gave me great insight to how to picture the future," he explained. "Using this kind of color is like to enhance the idea that we are actually losing our senses through the process."

Kongkee uses dystopian scenes such as Hong Kong road signs and buildings floating in a river to reflect the idea that things are always disappearing and changing.

"I think it's really using a subversive way to look at the surroundings and to build a new narrative and that's kind of the cyberpunk that I'm reading from Kongkee's universe," said Abby Chen, curator and head of contemporary art for the Asian Art Museum. "That's why we see these really vibrant, strong, stunning color to describe the past. Very often it was depicted in this dull, boring, faded way."

Chen said having an authentic Asian voice show what a future with Asians may look like is especially meaningful because the community is often left out of futuristic science fiction and pop culture.

"I feel like they can feel a changing momentum when they come to this museum," Kongkee said. "I hope they can find something unexpected."

Warring States Cyberpunk is open now through January at the Asian Art Museum.



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