Through video installations, I examine the possibilities of a relationship between the notion of a traditional Chinese scroll as a form, human beings and the concept of Dao. At the root of my work is a preoccupation with the longevity of Chinese culture. I ask: how can human beings in modern day society interact with the concept of this ancient philosophy ‘Dao’? I first became interested in Chapter 42 of Dao De Jing, a core text of Daoism, which explains:
“The Dao 道 (the “way”) gives birth to one. One gives birth to Two,
Two gives birth to Three. Three gives birth to thousands of things or all things in the universe.
All things carry yin and embrace yang.
When yang and yin combine, all things achieve harmony.”
This passage led me to explore how these ‘thousand of things’ are created and generalised in the universe. I began with the notion that the number ‘one’ symbolises the beginning of the universe. An ancient Chinese dictionary compiled during the years 100 and 112 A.D., the ‘Shuowen Jiezi’ 《說文解字》, analyses the meaning of the character ‘one’ in this way:
“The Great Beginning of the “Way” is based upon Unity. It divides Heaven and Earth and forms the ten thousand creations.”
The Chinese character “one” is represented by the stroke “一” (yi). I was particularly interested in this character as it links to the idea of unity of the yin embracing the yang, referenced in Chapter 42 of Dao De Jing. In my early work, I used computer animation to create a three-dimensional character “one,” the stroke “一” which I then projected onto a white background. Later I added numerous other Chinese characters. The brush strokes composing each character were deconstructed reflecting the process of one becomes two, two become three and so on. Amidst the flying brush stokes I inserted ambiguous portions of human flesh that enter the white space unexpectedly. This use of flesh creates a relationship between human beings and the notion of “one.” The flesh allows viewers to identify and associate themselves with the work. Moreover, the manner in which the body part interrupts the white space references an ancient Chinese belief that colour can make you blind and that the greyscale is superior.