ZHANG CHENG

HK Magazine - - CULTURE - Com­piled by Jes­sica Wei

“An­nals of Float­ing Is­land” is an ex­hi­bi­tion cur­rently on view at Ha­nart TZ Gallery. The show en­com­passes me­dia rang­ing from paint­ings to photography and video, all con­tem­plat­ing the pres­ence of tech­nol­ogy and vir­tual re­al­ity in our con­tem­po­rary lives. Zhang Cheng, who cu­rated this ex­hibit with Song Zhengxi, talked with Jes­sica Wei about the ex­hi­bi­tion.

HK Mag­a­zine: What’s the pur­pose of this ex­hi­bi­tion? Zhang Cheng: From the cu­ra­to­rial con­cept to the art­works and the artists, the ex­hi­bi­tion il­lu­mi­nates a young main­land Chi­nese art land­scape. Most of the works shown are rel­a­tively new, in­clud­ing “The Grand Voy­age,” an ex­ten­sive on­go­ing project that be­gan in 2014, while some of the other pieces are older works. But all the works tap into a col­lec­tive artis­tic con­cern re­gard­ing the ideas of so­cial and vir­tual re­al­ity. HK: What does a “float­ing is­land” rep­re­sent to you? ZC: The key im­age rep­re­sents an unan­chored ex­is­tence that drifts across the sea. In con­tem­po­rary life we are float­ing on ever-chang­ing cur­rents, on an ocean of ba­nal knowl­edge and un­ver­i­fied in­for­ma­tion, with much of our ex­pe­ri­ence built on a vir­tual re­al­ity. So­cial me­dia in our in­ter­net-dom­i­nated so­ci­ety per­me­ates and al­ters our re­al­ity, per­cep­tion and judg­ment—this serves as a key point of in­spi­ra­tion.

HK: Did you be­gin with an idea first, and then com­mis­sion artists, or did you find a link­ing theme among the artists’ work?

ZC: The artists in­volved are not only col­lab­o­ra­tors but our friends as well. Th­ese artists all share a sense of un­cer­tainty in the age of in­for­ma­tion, in the vir­tual world of the in­ter­net and in con­sumer so­ci­ety. We se­lected them for this show as we felt they fit the in­her­ent theme of “un­cer­tainty.” HK: Re­gard­ing the theme, was there a de­lib­er­ate ef­fort to sound hy­per-cur­rent, or was it a nat­u­ral re­sult of the process?

ZC: In my mind, what we are con­cerned with is not some com­plex, clever tech­nique but rather, how we com­mu­ni­cate with the re­al­ity of this era while be­ing in­un­dated by tech­nol­ogy. How do we deal with dis­tance and in­er­tia and how do we han­dle the in­ter­ac­tive force that also emerges?

HK: What sort of im­pact have th­ese tech­nolo­gies had on the artis­tic land­scape of China?

ZC: To quote the artist and CAA pro­fes­sor Qiu Zhi­jie, ‘Com­pared to van Gogh’s time, when peo­ple felt a sense of amaze­ment when first en­coun­ter­ing a pho­to­graph or a train, in our era even the In­ter­net doesn’t strike us as any­thing spe­cial.’ HK: What can vis­i­tors take away from the ex­hibit? ZC: I hope vis­i­tors will be in­spired to ask ques­tions.

“An­nals of Float­ing Is­land” runs at Ha­nart TZ Gallery un­til Aug 28. Room 401, Ped­der Build­ing, 12 Ped­der St, Cen­tral, 2526-9019.

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