Everyday Frenzies 躁动人生
As part of a running art theme, island6 unveils a two-part series of multimedia artworks featuring electric patterns flowing through shan shui ("water mountain") pictures
and aligning contemporary media with the timeless passion of Chinese landscape
painting and poetry.
Beijing's Green T. House, with its beautifully coordinated art direction, is a perfect location for this theme. Everyday Frenzies opened on June 14, 2011, with a vernissage held by Green T. House directors JinR and Robbie Gilchrist with Red Gate Gallery directors Brian Wallace and Liyu Yeo, and attended by Australian Ambassador Dr. Geoff Raby as well as members of the island6 team.
Shan shui art need not actually represent a recognizable scene in reality
but instead serves primarily to illuminate and express the ethical and mental
state of the artist. In today's cityscapes, mountains and rivers are replaced
by unfeeling concrete; the fluidity and complexity of form required to convey
internal states is found only in ourselves. Every scene bears different
contours, fresh angles, and new perspectives. Such is seen in the artworks exposed at the Green T. House.
The path, threshold, and heart of "Gaojia" (高架) are more abstract and enigmatic than
those of classical shan shui. The traditional elements might possibly be
read as the path of a elevated highway, the climax of that path, and the tree
that holds the highway—and the artwork—together. Or the viewer might
see more symbolic elements in the work: the path of a city from village to metropolis, the threshold between past and future, and the biological nature that centers the experience. Mixed media of LEDs, Chinese paper cutting, and rice paper collage stained with tea allow for multiple readings.
The naked swimmer at the center of "Easternmost Bay of Lake Mälaren" (美兰湖的东岸) enters the frenzied world of Surrealism as she takes a Daliesque dip through the waters of an LED interface. The streets or grass she normally strides over melt into liquid form to show footage of her body falling from an unspoken height into water and crashing along, as a star in the island6 reinterpretation of the collaboration between Dalí and photographer Philippe Halsman, Dalí Atomicus. The photograph, which shows the Catalan artist suspended in air while cats fly from buckets of water around him, is referenced as a point of inspiration for work that questions the powers of science in art. With the naked swimmer in the unusual physical scenario of RGB representation, Surrealism and fantasy are brought together in an animated artwork that celebrates the nature of our modern world.
The exhibition takes its title
from "Laments of the Gorges" by the 8th-century poet Meng Chiao 孟郊 (translated
by David Hinton):
Water swords and spears raging in gorges,
boats drift across heaving thunder. Here
in the hands of these serpents and snakes,
you face everyday frenzies of wind and rain
(The Late Poems of Meng Chiao, trans. David Hinton [Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1996], 38.)
[Brittney O'Neill, Pete Bradt, and Clare Jacobson]