This exhibit forces the viewer to slow down and escape into a different world. That’s one of the objectives of the ancient Chinese masters of Shan Shui Hua, or landscape paintings. It was for oldest artists to create a world which they want to hide, avoid, escape from the reality. So they created a mountain. Imagine that could live there. Trained in both Chinese and Western art styles, Nick Dong and Chi Tsung Wu attempt to capture the essence of landscape paintings with technology and modern materials. In this contemporary approach to what’s real and what’s not, these plastic boxes are used with a slowly moving light to cast shadows on the wall. But if we see this stroller light showing a different perspective, we can see that’s another world behind that.
That other world is this: shadows that look more real and solid than the actual boxes. It’s symbolic of the modern digital age, says Wu. We spend most of the time in our daily life no matter to work, our social life or our entertainment or on this cyber space. That space is an escape for many people, similar to the landscape paintings. To capture the philosophical elements of a landscape painting, magnets are used to levitate objects to show that there is a force between everything in nature. This art installation is Dong’ s representation of heaven. In my mind, heaven is a place of selfless. Eventually once you entered the installation, at first you will see a lot of your reflection, but once you sit down, you trigger the mechanism of the room.
The mirror actually started to reflect and you, yourself will disappear within a space. All you have is this empty, wide-open space. And for me, it’s the ultimate evolution. These pieces are ways the artists hope the modern day viewer will be able to experience what the masters of the landscape paintings were trying to achieve. They were able to say we’re seeking a spiritual outlet. We’re seeking a way to refine the spirit and refine the soul, really.
So this work, you know, today it’s hard to have that experience with the traditional artworks, because there’s such a contained device. You see them in a museum under glass and they’re hard to approach. Contemporary artists hope their use of lighting and experimental materials will make an ancient art form more tangible and real.
Elizabeth Lee VOA News, Los Angeles.