Chinese Artist Lu Sisi’s Stylish Video Collages Explore How Technology Has Transformed Culture
Sisi’s new solo show, “[TAIKONAUT],” is on view now at Migrant Bird Space in Berlin.
“Taikonaut” is the expression for a Chinese astronaut—a poetic combination of “taikong,” the Chinese word for space, and “naútēs,” the Greek word for sailor.
Sisi is a Chinese-born, London-based multi-media artist whose work combines video, electronic music, and live performance. The taikonaut—and the etymology behind the word—is an apt symbol for Sisi’s practice, which feels like an exercise in feeling out space, visually, sonically, and even across cultures.
His new exhibition brings together two bodies of work. The first, The Age of Digital / Analogue is one of nine parts in a larger suite of live performances titled, “The Age of Digital” (2011-13). The series explores the commercial impacts of the industrial revolution in the UK through objects that defined the era—steam engines, large-scale printing presses, and so on.
The Age of Digital / Analogue, consists of originally projected behind Lu as he deejayed, and takes as its subject one of history’s defining inventions: the recreational camera. The work features stop-motion footage of classic cameras, animated to dance to a rhythmic electronic score.
The second body of work is li (2017), an audio-visual performance piece that combines electronic music and Peiking Opera. It too is recreated in the gallery through video and audio taken from performances the artist recently conducted in Beijing and Shanghai. However, unlike The Age of Digital / Analogue, which focused on technological innovations in the Western world, li has a decidedly Eastern sensibility. It is also more abstract, eschewing figures nearly to the point of unrecognizability.
Part filmmaker, part DJ, part performance artist, Lu’s multifaceted identity as an artist embodies the themes in his work. The mixture of media is a formal compliment to his exploration of the exchange between western and eastern cultures, especially as it’s mediated by technology.
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