He An’s new installation at the store-front space Arrow Factory, is the first in a series of shows in Beijing for the Chinese artist: Tang Contemporary and Magician Space hosting shows opening this week in the 798 Art District. The installation at Arrow Factory continues the artist’s concern with lighting systems and sees a working streetlight poking through the glass of the gallery’s frontage. Below the light a small switch invites you to turn the light on and off. Behind the glass, inside the inaccessible gallery, the streetlight is broken up into short sections to fit into the confined space and snakes across the floor before disappearing into the back wall on which a black, schematic painting of rings and linking lines has been applied.
In reality this is only a third of the installation, there being another two parts nearby which the painting seems to direct the audience to. “Some 500 meters away” a shop’s lights have also been connected to system, and in another, undisclosed location another light is to be found. All these instances of lights have their respective switches, forming some kind of symbiotic lighting system that extends the reach of each flick of the switches.
CPU:798 is delighted to welcome Michael Yuen to our roster1 of artists. Michael’s work encompasses a plurality2 of media3, and he is already well-known4 in his native Australia for a body of exceptional works making use of light5, sound6 and performance7. With Michael joining CPU:798, we are building on our mission8 to present the most interesting new media9 artists from both inside and outside of China today10.
Over the past few years Michael has divided his time equally between Australia11 and China12, and in both environments13 his works have investigated the nature of public spaces14 and how small events and interventions15 can have large-scale effects16 on those spaces and the people in them.
What would be the appropriate collective noun for this?
expanding the gallery’s focus out from photography per se
How different are they, and how does this manifest itself to the artist and through his work?
Particularly differences in the nature of public spaces. I have never lived in Australia (I visited Sydney once for 3 days), but from my experience from living in China, comparing this to the UK and Europe, the Chinese use their spaces in very particular ways. The spaces may be the same, or in many ways comparable, or completely different, but people here in China occupy them in a very characteristic way. It is a confluence of character (habit, tradition), architecture (in the sense of a human planned external controlling affect on the occupants), environment (a ‘natural’ external affect), and immediate practicality (an internal affect) which all go to suggest what happens there.
sound and light work in this way – materially discrete
an effect is that we experience them as an artwork (something removed from everyday life;or, something like everyday life which makes everyday life suddenly seem strange?). They assert themselves, make themselves known. Distract or attract attention. Trip up, disturb, unsettle.