‘Dao gives birth to one; one gives birth to two; two gives birth to three; three gives birth to ten thousand.’
The Chinese Arts Centre in Manchester is exhibiting ‘Dao Gives Birth to One’, a solo piece by one of Hong Kong’s emerging contemporary media artists, Hung Keung. The artist’s work addresses the longevity of Chinese philosophy, questioning how human beings in modern society interact with the concept of time and space through the ancient philosophy of Dao. Dao, although difficult to define as a Westerner, relays principles about the flow of the universe. Following Daoism, one aims to harmonise one’s will with nature, maintaining balance in the world.
Standing at a cross road in the Chinese Arts Centre, the way to the exhibition is unclear until Chinese calligraphy emerges, shiny black like tar against the matte grey walls. Entering the main gallery brings the far end of the installation, allowing an extensive horizontal view created by a line of twelve screens.
Using bespoke software, a camera picks up the viewer’s image, immediately incorporating him or her into the universe Hung Keung has created. As one moves, a steady stream of Chinese characters flows around one’s virtual duplication. Resembling a spiritual aura, the characters seem to have an attraction to the image on the visual display, like iron filings to a magnet. This interactive element to the installation adds to the mystery of the work.
A single lonely character floats around in the vast white expanse, evolving to a screen dense and heavy with large sweeping symbols. The marks movements appear like they have consciousness, softly flowing yet moving with intent. Each character establishes a unique personality in the way it dances, exuding its boldness or its elegance.
‘Dao Gives Birth to One’ runs at the Chinese Arts Centre until 1 September 2012.
Text by Laura Harding
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