Fou Gallery is pleased to announce the new exhibition Liu Chang: Code is Beautiful, which will be on view from October 22 to December 18, 2016. The show will present the New York-based artist Liu Chang’s interactive video installation and her 100-day project called “Nature and Algorithm.” As the title suggests, the exhibition reveals the aesthetics behind the apparent rational and logical nature of code while presenting Liu’s exploration of the relationships between art and technology, nature and man-made, reality and virtuality, and time and space. This is also Liu’s first solo exhibition in New York. The opening reception will be held on October 22, 5-8 pm.
For a generation that has grown up with technology, code is omnipresent in our daily life and work. Tablet computers, smartphones, virtual reality experience and artificial intelligence (AI) are spreading around every corner of the world, and we now live in a place which is neither completely natural nor completely man made. The exponential growth of technological development makes the coming of technological singularity possible. Following this path of extreme or near infinite progress, an upgraded AI may enter a runaway self-improvement loop, bringing a future where nature, human and AI coexist. While the worlds of science and science fiction hold certain fears and worries about this vision, Liu Chang counters with her poetic imagination. She tries to reveal the beauty behind the rationality and logic of code: “Code is an interface between man and machine...Code is logical, art is emotional. Coding art is an intersection where artistic practice can takes strict, cold, logical processes and convert them into illogical, unpredictable and expressive results. I want to bring the two practices together.”
Random Walker - Dripping is an interactive video installation, also one of her Computational Portraiture series “Flickering Existence”. When a person enters the space, the camera in front of the screen will capture her/his image. From the image, an abstracted portrait is made with a built-in algorithm. Portraiture has long been a very important genre in painting; artists have continually demonstrated great passion for self-portraits as well as portraits of others. Random Walker - Dripping is like a painter who works with machine, with the algorithm serving as the “painter’s brush” and using digital brushstrokes to create an abstract portrait. In the making of a traditional portrait, sitters are typically asked to be still, in this way remaining passive for the process of painting. However, in Random Walker - Dripping, audiences become co-creators of the portraits. They can see their portraits gradually emerge on the screen, or move around to interrupt the process. Time is another participant in the creative process. When the viewer leaves the installation, the marks that he/she leaves on the screen become blurry, soon to be replaced by the next viewer. As Liu Chang says: “The passage of time leaves no mark, but works of art capture the flickering existence unconsciously.”
“Nature and Algorithm” is a 100-day project. Every day for three months, Liu Chang randomly picked a screenshot of a geographic location or downloaded a landscape picture. She developed an algorithm by looking at the textures in the pictures, and with coding she generated images on the computer that visually imitate the original images. Two images from different worlds - Nature and Computer have similar visual effects. Juxtaposing them, Liu Chang sees the project both as a respect for the beauty of nature and technology, and as a question to the relationship between nature and AI. A 100-day practice could be regarded as the artist’s continuous thoughts on time. The repetitive everyday practice reminds of On Kawara's Today series - the simple acrylic on canvas renderings of that day’s date from 4 January 1966 up until the final years of the artist’s life. The simple documentation of date becomes a way to measure one’s own existence against the essence of time.
*The press release is based on texts by Echo He, translated by Tao Xian, and proofread by Andrew Shiue and Mike Fu.