Multimedia art in its most cerebral form

Xu Qin
A well-informed viewer may identify a dozen or more languages in Zhu Changquan's exhibition "Omnipresence."
Xu Qin

Artist Zhu Changquan's exhibition "Omnipresence" at the M50 Creative Park plucks viewers' senses to reflect on the process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through one's own thoughts, experiences and fragments of information.

A number of multimedia works are on display, including the 17-minute animation "Dark, Beyond Deep," plus its artistic concept extending into a 10-minute video work "I'm Disguised, Right in front of You" and on-site sculptures "Nails are also Monkeys" and "Monkeys are also Nails."

The animation starts with the first light of the universe, and then splits into space and time. A garden then appears, and a raven flies in.

"They give me a name, so it denies me the possibility of being another," says the raven, who is now called Cyma.

Eager to define other things in the garden, Cyma meets a snake, another Cyma, in a bush. An apple falls from a tree, and a man picks it up and gives it to a woman, another Cyma, in a house. She takes a bite, and there is order, perfection and happiness.

Everyone feels her contentment as she says, "Every C has an opposite C."

In the garden of everything, Zhu uses the "all-factors narrative." Items, such as the raven, snake, apple and man, assume the roles of guides, all called Cymas. The viewers are led to explore the garden in order to formulate their individual cognition through the guides' narrations, actions and shifting angles.

Unlike a linear narrative where events are told in the order they occur, Zhu's art of narration attempts to place equal importance on all factors interfering with the progress of events and matters beyond time and space. Using iconic cultural references passed down from human history, the artist tries to create a panoramic experience of living in today's fast-paced, information-packed society.

"I grew up in the 90s when we would play video games at school, and in almost everything we do, we use the Internet," said Zhu. "The omnipresence of it has changed the way we learn and made us more self-sufficient learners."

Zhu was born in Shandong Province in 1989. He graduated from the China Academy of Art's Experimental Image Studio in 2014. In his works, trivial details that are normally ignored gain vital importance in decoding the subject, while the acquisition and recognition of such details lie in accordance with the viewer's own experience, leading to distinct and individualized cognitive outcomes.

Multimedia art in its most cerebral form
Courtesy of Vanguard Gallery

Zhu Changquan now lives and works in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province.

"There are a ton of opportunities for us to improve ourselves through the Internet, and language is the key – the more the better," said Zhu, who revealed that the inspiration for the animation came from his baby boy, who is now 22 months old.

"I want to use the work to rediscover the world through the eyes of a newborn. It discusses how consciousness is built in a given culture, and reality is, indeed, the construction inside ME."

Throughout the exhibition, the videos and sculptures become carriers of the variable, a pivotal code embedded by the artist, taking the form of symbols, stories, images and games. A well-informed viewer may identify a dozen or more languages in his works, such as Latin, Morse code and Bach's musical scores.

Exhibition info

Dates: Through January 29, 11am-6pm

Venue: Vanguard Gallery

Address: Rm 204, Bldg 4A, 50 Moganshan Road

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