The Forecast Is Gloriously Stormy for Carla Chan’s Elemental Offerings at Frieze

The Hong Kong artist harnesses turbulent weather in stunning digital projects for La Prairie.

Stormy weather: Carla Chan's "Unfalling Black" at Frieze. Courtesy of the artist.

The artist Carla Chan specializes in harnessing the power of nature and technology. At the heart of her digital explorations is the celebration of her subjects.

Even when her work veers towards abstraction and darker ecological concerns, the viewer absorbs her subtle messages of faith in the data stream.

“When I decide to do something with nature, it’s because I’m captivated by its beauty,” she said in an interview. “At the end of the day, I’m a very optimistic person. I don’t lecture people, but I want them to understand.

The 33-year-old Hong Kong native is destined to stand out at this week’s Frieze New York art fair, where she will present works that are both awe-inspiring and humbling. Attendees will only have to download the ZHEN app for a window into her artistic world.

Unfalling Black allows visitors to augment their reality and brave the elements while looking through their own phones as extreme weather formations shift and morph all around them. At times, the inclement rain and snow swirl and fall in reverse, and time and gravity cease. It’s a jarring experience to be standing in the placid eye of a storm. 

A storm is brewing for Carla Chan at Frieze. Courtesy of La Prairie.

Space Beyond, meanwhile, is a generative artwork with a morphing landscape transformed by real-time weather data. It will also include Chan’s first NFT project. There will be iterations for each day of the year, with the abstract animations fluctuating as data is collected from the 31 most-populated world cities. With both of these pieces, Chan is exerting control over the weather, which correlates with humankind’s effects on our real-world natural systems. 

“Not only is nature fading,” she said. “I feel we are more and more virtual.”

The natural world meets abstraction in Carla Chan’s new work. Courtesy of La Prairie.

Her Frieze works are displayed at the La Prairie Lounge (the Swiss luxury skincare brand is one of the art fair’s sponsors). It makes sense: blue-chip art aficionados are exactly the audience to revel in the luxury brand’s new Pure Gold Radiance Nocturnal Balm ($975), which is being released to coincide with Frieze. Besides Chan’s work, the brand is also offering on-site “Art of Perfection” beauty treatments. 

La Prairie’s art initiatives have allowed Chan’s vision to thrive. She has been a guest at two of the brand’s art residencies in Sweden, where she lived adjacent to mountains and a glacier. “This was my first time seeing snow,” she said. “I felt so small in this enormous space.” (La Prairie also sponsored her last Frieze appearance.) 

Chan finds inspiration in Swiss paradise at La Prairie’s artist residency. Courtesy of La Prairie.

“The art is constantly changing, undying,” she said of her latest work. “I got this idea from the residency and seeing this disappearing glacier. I want to make art that captures what no longer exists. I want to create art that will look to the future, even if I’m not there.”

The third extension from her residency series, Fading Space of Dawn, will debut at Art Basel Hong Kong at the end of the month.

Before embarking on metaverse projects, Carla had a more traditional art practice and was a painter. “A painting or a sculpture is frozen in that moment,” she said. “Digital representation is not so real to touch, but it gives me something beyond time and space.”

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