Artist uses a drum to make his work strik­ing

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE - By LIN QI

He was once a drum­mer in a school band, but Zheng Lu has now in­stalled the 12-me­ter-high “mu­si­cal in­stru­ment” at a solo ex­hi­bi­tion in Shang­hai.

The 38-year-old Beijing-based artist has strung about 10,000 alu­minum plates to­gether to cre­ate a high-rise struc­ture in the shape of a tower. It stands in the mid­dle of an ex­hi­bi­tion hall in the Long Mu­seum’s West Bund space.

Nearby, a me­chan­i­cal unit ma­nip­u­lated by com­puter pro­grams keeps pulling up steel balls and drop­ping them on the alu­minum struc­ture. The fall­ing balls then strike the plates to pro­duce pleas­ant sounds.

When the ex­hi­bi­tion was opened on Oct 29, vis­i­tors were in­vited to throw steel balls di­rectly into the plates, by which they helped to en­rich the pre­sen­ta­tion.

Zheng calls the in­stal­la­tion Re­sis­tance, which is also the ex­hi­bi­tion’s ti­tle.

The idea for the name comes from how the sound is pro­duced.

When the alu­minum plates pre­vent the balls from drop­ping, this re­sis­tance is trans­formed into ring­ing.

Zheng says he was in­spired by per­cus­sion to cre­ate the work.

Ev­ery plate is like a per­cus­sion in­stru­ment. To­gether with the balls, they cre­ate mu­sic.

The work con­tin­ues Zheng’s ex­plo­ration with sound. Last year at his ex­hi­bi­tion at the Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art Taipei, he pre­sented an in­stal­la­tion in which drops of wa­ter fell onto a steel plate to cre­ate soft sounds.

“Mu­sic has al­ways been what I want to play with. And sound is the fu­ture of the art world, ” says Zheng.

At the on­go­ing ex­hi­bi­tion, he in­vites mem­bers of the au­di­ence to give up their cur­rent way of per­ceiv­ing things.

He says, as Re­sis­tance demon­strates, the word “re­sis­tance” does not nec­es­sar­ily in­di­cate a neg­a­tive en­ergy. Ob­sta­cles can also be changed into some­thing fun and in­ter­est­ing.

“I am here to pro­vide an al­ter­na­tive way of think­ing about the world around us, which is con­tra­dic­tory and also com­pat­i­ble.” If you go

The ex­hi­bi­tion also show­cases other in­stal­la­tions, videos and pho­tos cre­ated since 2013, in­clud­ing Three Thou­sand Me­ters of Woe.

In this work, Zheng binds and twists a 3,000-me­ter-long stain­less steel wire into an ir­reg­u­lar for­ma­tion. It is hung and view­ers pass­ing by feel like they are sur­rounded by a cloud of mist.

“At first, peo­ple may feel an­noyed by this whole mass of twin­ing cir­cles, being re­minded of the ten­sion be­tween them and so­ci­ety,” he says. “But grad­u­ally, they will start to re­lax and en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Zheng says he hopes his art can en­gage view­ers, arous­ing in them feel­ings that are ei­ther joy­ful or painful, which they can have only when stand­ing be­fore the works, rather than from look­ing at pho­tos on­line.

At the cur­rent ex­hi­bi­tion, he also show­cases Leav­ing, an in­stal­la­tion cre­ated ear­lier this year. In the work, sev­eral suit­cases stand on the ground, and in each of them is a screen on which ro­tat­ing videos show grass­lands.

The mov­ing images were recorded by Zheng dur­ing the past two years when he trav­eled back to his na­tive In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

The care­free, re­mote at­mos­phere of grass­lands on the small screens forms a con­trast with the cold, metal feel of the suit­cases.

“We are the re­sis­tance against our­selves some­times,” says Zheng. “We need to crush it.”

an in­stal­la­tion by Zheng Lu, is among the pieces on show at the Shang­hai ex­hi­bi­tion. 10 am-6 pm, Tues­days-Sun­days, through Dec 21. Long Mu­seum (West Bund), 3398 Longteng Av­enue, Xuhui dis­trict, Shang­hai. 0216422-7636.



Zheng Lu holds an art show in Shang­hai.

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