What has been understood between Wake and Sleep is everything in ever-changing state. One’s wisdom, for instance, transforms into momentary fantasies and splendid visions. Inspired and illuminated, he will find himself in a blissful wonderland where time and space remain no longer fixed and both his body and spirit are endlessly extended. Beyond the mortal world, he forgets himself and anything else and ultimate harmony is thereafter achieved and long lasts. A total of 21 works are exhibited in this section.
The artist scans his own body and places the particlized form into a fluid field of simulated volcanic lava that is also particlized, enabling random interactive evolution. As the core hydrodynamic algorithm advances, endless morphological variations are generated. The selected forms are fixed with 3D printouts, then sculpted through stainless steel facsimile reproduction and polishing, torch firing, and natural reactions of chemical solutions. The invisible inner form is revealed, and the color of the fire symbolizes the traces of human tempering in the furnace of society.
The themes of these three works encompass freedom, independence, democracy, commerce and colonialism, touching upon anthropology, philosophy and political history. The murals, modeled on traditional Portuguese tiles in blue and white, are striking, with life-size figures representing people from all walks of life in modern life.
The first mural, “Tidal Wave 1,” shows a drowning asylum seeker being rescued by an NGO activist, a European politician, a coast guard official, an Italian mayor, a traffic warden and a bear, symbolizing defiance and disappointment.
The second mural, “Tidal Wave 2,” shows an apocalyptic scene in a huge Brazilian garbage dump, where the poor scavenge through mountains of plastic garbage for items that can be resold.
The third mural, “Tidal Wave 3,” is an imposing work that invokes masterpieces depicting human dignity in the face of disasters – such as Theodore Gericault’s “The Raft of the Medusa” or Eugène Delacroix’s “La Liberté guidant le peuple(Liberty Leading the People)”. The work depicts a group of teenagers demonstrating at a school in response to the climate strike launched by environmental activist Greta Thunber.
The artist has conducted extensive research over the past few years, attended conferences and debates on climate change and social science, and met with climatologists, economists, sociologists, immigrants and activists. The preparations of the murals took months of arranging photographing, casting models, and selecting poses and costumes. Scale drawings are drawn with final images before being used as preparations for mural drawings.
The Classic of Mountains and Seas is an ancient book that records the rare and strange things seen or heard as anecdotes. Looking at modern era through the eyes of the ancients, we should discover more interesting things.
In the summer of 2018, I took a trip to the Central Plain of China to see the ancient artworks that had survived. What shocked me, however, was the crowd in the museum. People packed the venue in groups with their children, and stood in long queue, some being travelers, others parents. Museums in China, once cold and cheerless, have now become such a lively place. The crowded, hustling scene entrenched in my mind. I deemed it a undoubtedly interesting anecdote in ancestors’ view, so I painted the work to bear it in mind.
The work “Gravitation Entanglement” predicts what we will see when looking up at the night sky in about 4.5 billion years, of course, based on the assumption that humans still exist. The visualization of the prediction comes from high-resolution measurements of the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy from the Hubble Space Telescope. It simulates the galactic encounter in a digital, pixel-by-pixel fashion. The mountains at the bottom are photographed in the Atacama Desert, Chile. The work can also be seen as a metaphor for the cycle of life and death.
This photo was taken during the landmark Ariane 5 Flight VA233 launch at Centre Spatial Guyanais (CSG), Kourou, French Guiana, on Nov. 17, 2016. The carrier rocket and the smoke column of its burning solid propellant were captured during a pitch maneuver shortly before booster separation after approximately 90 seconds after launch. The flight path of the rocket was no longer vertical, but ascended to orbit in the correct direction due to a sharp turn. Minutes after the photograph was taken, the launcher released the four Galilean Satellites in orbit and began to service the new European navigation system. The work combines the artist’s view of the sky from the ground near the launch pad with a view from the sky toward Earth, taken from an aircraft flying over French Guiana.
Chinese Academy of Sciences is building a giant “Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope(FAST)” in the remote mountains of Guizhou Province, the largest astronomical radio telescope in the world, which is presented in the photograph. The composition of the photograph focuses on the relationship between the cutting-edge technological instrument and its natural environment – foiled by surrounding mountains, viewers can all the more marvel at the sheer size of the giant telescope and stand in awe of it. Besides, the relationship extends from the ground to the distant stars. The search for extraterrestrial life is also a quest for the origin of life, a universal and fundamental question that all human beings face: where did we come from? The incredible size of the telescope is also a metaphor for the immeasurable span of time and space between the birth of the universe and the existence of human race.
The work looks closely at cities, an important field of modern civilization, from a deeply-entrenched perspective of traditional Chinese culture. Cities are not only the object shaped by modern civilization, but also a container and presenter of its results. Modern cities have created an artificial environment where men are distanced from nature, self-protecting and self-imprisoning at the same time. Human beings have been trying to tame nature, and the history of human civilization can be seen as a history of taming. Men have tamed natural beings like animals and plants for food and tools, as well as natural landscapes like rivers, mountains and plains for reclamation of farmland, building of cities, construction of dams and mining of deposits. More importantly, men have tamed themselves and imprisoned themselves.
A time spy:
Combining traditional woodcut and 3D visuals, the film discusses time in life and meanwhile, life in time. We preserve the past with memories, measure the future with wishes, and talk about our history, the present, the future and eternity. While memory can tell lies, tomorrow never exists, and we stay only in this very moment. Every day is today, and eternity remains untouchable. Regarding time, every one of us is a helpless creature…… Only the universe can define everything, and each person is just like a spy in time.
Magic of atlas：The magician comes to luocha:
“The woodcut painting is a main scene design for SUN Xun’s feature film “Magic Star Chart”, which is still in production. It depicts a magician who enters the country of Luocha and disrupts its national order, and dwells on other subsequent plots.
Inspired by the Classic of North Mountains, the work creates a visionary world under the northern vault of heaven: human-faced, bird-bodied horrors, songsi, in Mount Guanti, flying rats in Mount Danxun, and laughing quails in Mount Bianchun…All kinds of alienated beings in multiple temporal and spacial dimensions form a post-nuclear-war tragic scene for mankind. Numerous pupils staring at you and me are giving us warning, and festering skin ruptures are questioning us in an inquisitorial way. The combination of mysterious imagery recorded in ancient books and contemporary signs makes us rethink and triggers a new collision of thoughts. This is a reality based on self-interpretation and self-imagination, which allows me to reflect on the past, cherish the present and predict the future in a reconstructed space-time line.
The work depicts a fantasy land created by the ancestors living in the world of “the Classic of Mountains and Seas” after a thousand years of continuous inheritance and development. On the one hand, in the process of survival and development in the world, the technological level of the ancestors has witnessed unprecedented progress under mutual learning and competition between different species; on the other hand, human beings reap what they has sown for their evil doings, including environmental pollution, population explosion and ecological degradation during the long process of development. The massive reduction in population awakens the ancestors’ reverence for nature. The change of mind not only changed the divinity, but also assimilated the humanity, and the ancestors returned to nature and established the utopia.