Secondary Virtual Wandering (Wòyóu)
Artists: Li Shun
Curator: Zheng Ziyu
The idea of "virtual wandering" (woyou) originated with the Southern Dynasties painter Zong Bing, who conceived of it as a way of recalling great mountains and natural scenes when old age separated him from nature. "Clear the mind to glimpse the Tao, so that you may travel everywhere in the mind." However, this spirituality, which transcended the shackles of materialism and the restrictions of time and space, became a core value in Chinese literati landscape painting. In Zong's "virtual wandering", he reminisced about past experiences, but later literati paintings gradually departed from firsthand experiences of real landscapes and became more about just following schemas for Chinese ink painting and expressing a reclusive mood. "virtual wandering" was separated from previous experiences, and became a spiritual game in and of itself that relied on painting technique.
Li Shun studied multimedia art, and his work has always been a kind of media infiltration that engages in dialogue with tradition. He derives impressions of abstract ink painting from light trails captured in long-exposure images taken at night, which he them assembles to re-create well-known pieces of Chinese calligraphy. The Sketches of the Internet series in this exhibition is a contemporary interpretation of Zong's "virtual wandering".
Using Google Maps, Li enjoys wandering streets that he has never visited in person; he seeks out the unexpected and extraordinary: a scrap of flag floating in the sky, a pair of legs without a body, or an unidentified part of a blurry mosaic. In contrast to the aesthetic imagery and brush-and-ink tradition of Chinese landscape painting, street views on maps are the product of machine intelligence and computing. Big data and artificial intelligence (AI) supercomputers are ambitiously constructing a flawless new world, but we cannot avoid the dislocations, ambiguities, and deficiencies of these images. These sudden disruptions are like a brief flash-back, a subtle crack between the real and the virtual worlds, or a hidden entrance to an open system.
Street views have been used as resources for a long time, but Li's "virtual wandering" are not focused on the search for adventure, instead the techniques to duplicate the images after those encounters. He takes screenshots, photographs these renderings with digital and instant cameras, and sketches these street views. In particular, his sketches of negatives contain the unintentional mistakes that result from hand-drawn copies; he calls this process "sketching," but it is in fact copying images in a way that depart from physical sensibility. If Google Street View provides primary virtual wandering through images, Li re-constructs virtual wandering experiences-Secondary Virtual Wandering. Street adventures are repeatedly depicted, framed, and enlarged, then juxtaposed in different media. When COVID-19 suddenly threw the world into isolation, people could not wander in nature, and fundamental kinds of physical contact in our lives became a threat. "Secondary virtual wandering" is surprisingly well-suited to our times. However, quarantine isolation is different from literati reclusion. Spiritual emptiness cannot be smoothed into contentment; everything is merely a ridiculous performance.
the Statue of Liberty, 2019
Born in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province in 1988, Li Shun received his BFA and MFA from the School of Intermedia Art, China Academy of Art. He now lives and works in Hangzhou. Recent major awards include the nomination for Prix YISHU 8·Chine (Beijing, 2019); TOP20 China Contemporary Photography Emerging Photographers, (Hangzhou, 2017); The Civil Power—Silver Award for the opening exhibition of Beijing Minsheng Art Museum (Beijing, 2015); The 6th Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition (Beijing, 2014) etc. Recent solo exhibitions include " Imaginary Tour", Beijing Art Now Gallery (Beijing, 2019); “Chinglish, Make Room” (Los Angeles, 2019); "Oceanic Scroll", Beijing Art Now Gallery (Beijing, 2018); Li Shun Solo Project at Art Basel Hong Kong, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (Hong Kong, 2018); "Li Shun" solo exhibition, Beijing Art Now Gallery (Beijing, 2016), among others. Recent group exhibitions include “The Toys of Time”, Zhi Art Museum (Shanghai, 2020); "Echoes", Zhi Art Museum (Shanghai, 2020); “Between painting & Image”, Lingnan Museum of Fine Art (Dongguan, 2019); "Post Brushwork Era: Chinese Landscapes", Guangdong Art Museum, Zhejiang Art Museum (Guangzhou, Hangzhou, 2018); The 2nd Changjiang International Photography and Video Biennale, Changjiang Museum of Contemporary Art, Chongqing (Chongqing, 2017); "Calligraphic Time and Space: Abstract Art in China", Power Station of Art, Shanghai (Shanghai, 2015); " Writing Non-Writing – Hangzhou International Modern Calligraphy Exhibition", China Academy of Art Museum (Hangzhou, 2015), etc. His works can be found in public collections including Foundation Tichy Ocean, Switzerland; HL Art Collection, USA; White Rabbit Art Museum, Australia; HOW Art Museum, Shanghai and Zhi Art Museum, Chengdu, etc.
Born in 1985 in Shantou, Zheng Zhiyu now lives and works in Guangzhou.
He is a Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate Researcher at the School of Communication and Design, Sun Yat-sen University; Chief Curator at Ultimate Vision. He worked as a senior editor at the Visual Center of Southern Metropolis Daily, commissioning and coordinating editor of Visual Weekly, and the visual consultant of Caixin Media. He is now engaged in visual communication and contemporary photography research, curating and art criticism writing.
As a curator and editor, Zheng Ziyu's research and curatorial involvement is in two dimensions of photography as a social record and a kind of contemporary art medium. In July 2018, he curated the exhibition "Deceased Records: A Image Survey of the Three Gorges of the Yangtze River, the Jinsha River and the Nujiang River" at O Art Center, Shanghai, which later toured to Yuezhong Museum of Historical Images in November 2018, and Sun Yat-sen University in November 2019. From 2016 to 2018, he co-edited Magnum China (published by Thames & Hudson) for Magnum Photos in collaboration with Colin Pantall. In September, 2016, he curated the exhibition "Magnum Contacts Sheets: the Birth of Classical Photography" at the Shenzhen University Art Museum. Other curatorial projects include "Aftermath" at the Dali International Photography Exhibition in August 2013; “The Underside of History” at Lianzhou Poto in November 2013, all focusing on possibilities for photography to reveal the truth and promote social progress. In June 2020, he published the book "China in the Lens of Foreign Photographers" (CITIC Press Group).
In November 2019, he curated "Between Painting and Image" at Lingnan Art Museum (co-curated with Yang Xiaoyan). Earlier co-curated projects also include "Another View of Image: Experimental Field of Light" at Hubei Art Museum (co-curated with Yang Xiaoyan and Ji Shaofeng). The exhibition "A Different Way: Departing from Guangdong" at Art Guangdong in September 2014, focuses on experimentation on media, exploration of the boundary and fusion of photography in the contemporary art world.
He was awarded China's Top 10 Photo Editors, the Guangdong Province Photo Editor of the Year Award, and nominated for China's Outstanding Photography Curator Pegasus Award, among other honors.