Crystallizing the Creative Harmony at the Heart of China's Urban Explosion

“Everyone is trying to find that new Chinese voice,” muses architect Lyndon Neri in this meditative documentary by director Thomas Rhazi. ChinaNOW spotlights the fertile state of creativity in the world’s most populous country, through interviews with luminaries of Chinese art, publishing and architecture. Neri appears with his wife and professional partner, Rosanna Hu, alongside Jérôme Sans, co-founder of Beijing consultancy Perfect Crossovers and former Director of the city’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, and Shaway Yeh, the Group Style Editorial Director of Modern Media Group whose flagship title, Modern Weekly, boasts a wider circulation than the Chinese edition of Vogue. Shot in Shanghai and Beijing, the smoggy skies and steel-and-glass skyscrapers articulate the enormous scale and rapid pace of China’s development, yet the architecture picked out here offers a sanctuary amidst the confusion. For Neri & Hu’s award-winning boutique hotel The Waterhouse, the architects embrace the public nature of traditional Shanghai lane houses, while collective living is a feature of the Ai Weiwei-designed Caochangdi village in Beijing, where a thriving hub of artists live and work alongside farmers and migrant workers. Yet despite the country’s budding energy and certain creative freedoms, China itself is unknowable for the artist, according to Yeh. “It’s a place that’s still in flux,” she says during today’s short. “It’s constantly reshaping.”

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    Rosie Huntington-Whiteley: Manifestation

    Gallic Passion, American Charm and the British Supermodel Star in a Sun-Kissed Fashion Short from Guy Aroch

    A sun-drenched Malibu Beach sets the scene for Manifestation, a playful short from fashion photographer and filmmaker Guy Aroch. Scripted by System magazine’s Jonathan Wingfield, the story sees an American and a Frenchman in a heated discussion about the pitfalls of summer in Paris—the latter finds a welcome distraction, however, in the seductive gaze of supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. As the face of Burberry, Victoria’s Secret and Loewe, the British-born beauty turns heads before diving into the Californian ocean, a far cry from her rural family home on a Devonshire farm. “I guess the film has elements of sex, humor and cliché,” says the Israel-born, New York-based Aroch, who met the model and actor earlier this year while working together on a shoot for Muse magazine. “But the point is to show how important it is to see the positive and goodness that life can bring. It’s a glass-half-full kind of message.”

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    Demon Days: Alvin Leung

    The Michelin-Starred Bo Innovation Chef Takes Us to the “X-treme” Edge of Cooking

    Amid tentacles and open flames, the self-professed “Demon Chef” Alvin Leung reveals a wicked palate and a penchant for carnal creations in this short by filmmaker Ryan Hopkinson. Born in London and raised in Toronto, Leung rose to prominence in Hong Kong, becoming known for what he calls “X-treme Chinese” cuisine, a far-out technique that harnesses the futuristic appeal of molecular gastronomy alongside the wide reach of fusion. The incendiary results both morph traditional Chinese recipes into kinky culinary experiences, and tackle off-the-plate issues: the self-taught chef’s signature dish, Sex on the Beach, serves up an edible “condom” on a shitake beach, created to raise funds and awareness for AIDS charity. Preparing to launch Bo London, an offshoot of his prominent Hong Kong Bo Innovation, set to open in Mayfair this autumn, Leung spoke to NOWNESS about the science—and the magic—behind his delectable madness.

    With all the different genres of cooking out there today, why choose “X-treme Cuisine”? 
    I want to give people something more than tags like fusion, molecular or modern contemporary. I'm known for a couple of shocking dishes: Bo Bo for instance was wagyu beef with black truffle and foie gras, but served in a can. But X-treme isn’t just about being shocking; it’s exciting because it can take you to your limits and give people a new, surprising experience. 

    What inspires your X-treme recipes?
    I try to incorporate some element of familiarity when I cook; I make my food multi-sensory because when you eat it combines several senses: sight, smell, temperature and texture. In the East, texture and temperature are very important, and in the West taste and the visual take priority. Using all your senses creates a memory—you're associating and comparing.

    How might you adapt a classic, familiar dish?
    Shalong Boa (little dragon), or Xiao Long Bao in Mandarin, is a dish of tiny pork bouillon dumplings that explode in your mouth. Traditionally they would wrap a thick pastry around chopped up pork fat and seasoning and steam it so that when you bite into it you taste the liquid. I map the perfect Xiao Long Boa using the dish’s original flavors, with the addition of spherification (shaping liquid into spheres), so it looks like an egg yolk—it tastes the same as the original dish, even though that’s not what it appears to be. 
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