Artist uses a drum to make his work striking
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.