Heart of the matter An ongoing art show in Beijing sheds light on the importance of human emotions in our tech era. Xing Yi reports.
Adozen artists are presenting an exhibition by simulating sight, smell, touch and sound at the M. Woods Museum in Beijing.
Running from July 1 to Oct 8, it is titled Heart of the Tin Man, and reveals alternative modes of creativity and expressions.
The curator of the exhibition, Huang Xufu, is also a co-founder of the museum.
Huang, 23, has just graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in the United States.Ontheopeningnightof his first curated show, he was busy showing people around.
The idea of the show came after he met one of the artists whose work is on display.
“During one of my visits to Austine Lee (the artist), he spray-painted an image of me while I was ‘glued’ to the phone,” Huang says. “I look like a ‘tin man’ in the painting.”
Speaking about the concept of “tin man” — the show’s theme, Huang says technology enables people to share information quickly and freely and everyone has a wider access to information and a chance to be heard. But at the same time, it’s eating up people’s lives so much that they have stopped paying attention Huang Xufu, Heart of the Tin Man. Falling Cat, to real things, such emotions.
British artist Gillian Wearing showcases her project Your Views, which she put together after inviting people across the globe to upload onto her website short video clips taken from windows.
It is “the largest collaborative film ever made”, says Wearing.
As curtains open, the screens show vistas from Kobe to Alaska. It reminded people at once of the world’s vastness and connectivity through different ways.
“In places where technology is fairly underdeveloped, for instance, Africa, we get the most fabulous views,” Huang says.
“The exhibition is focusing on the two sides of technology, encouraging people to quit technology for a while and to feel the world with their original senses.”
Another co-founder of the museum, Lei Wanying, better as their known as Wanwan, says the metaphor of the “tin man” comes from The Wizard of Oz, in which the character is looking for a real heart.
“With the increasing forms of art and the integration with technology, the essence of art is never changed by its medium or shape, because it has heart,” says Lei.
Lei’s favorite part of the exhibition is a replica of a room, where artist Yang Zi works and lives when she visits the Labrang Monastery in the Gannan Tibet autonomous prefecture in Gansu province.
In the 4-square-meter room stands a table on top of which are placed several smartphones with drawings created by the artist.
Yang used to live in a big city before she moved to the lesser developed region. Now, the focus of her daily life is observation and meditation.
“My mind is very clear, I don’t even dream at night, and I get up very early every morning,” Yang says.
“I know exactly what to do, one thing that does not change is that I crank the prayer wheel every day.”
The living conditions aren’t perfect in Gannan, with limited daily resources and the lack of entertainment options.
Yang relies a lot on her smartphone for drawing after she found out about software she can use to create her new worlds, especially in red, yellow, blue, green and white — the colors representing the elements fire, land, water, wind and the sky. These five colors are found in prayer banners that flutter in Gannan and other places where Buddhism is popular.
“It’s not important for the audience to see my drawings, the important thing is to make them sit down and spend a minute to think about how I made them, and then they must be connected to my art,” Yang says.
“We should pay more attention to our hearts, and it’s the aim of the exhibition to activate the emotions inside us.”
Another eye-catching installation on display is Dominae Illud Opus Populare by British artist Ryan Gander.
With the technology of facial recognition and motion sensor, a pair of animatronic eyes is replying to people’s facial expressions with emotions including surprise, anger, curiosity and concern.
The relation between artworks and audiences is overturned — the observers are now observed by the artwork, the artist explains.
The exhibition is focusing on the two sides of technology, encouraging people to quit technology for a while.” curator a painting by US artist Austin Lee.
Xu Haoyu contributed to this story.
Email Trek, an installation by Chinese artist Xu Wenkai, is on display at the Beijing exhibition
An installation (left) by US artist Sean Raspet and