Capsule Shanghai is pleased to present Feng Chen’s newest project The Darker Side of Light: Shadow conceived site-specifically for the ANNEX space of the Fosun Foundation, on view until August 31. The project is a further development of the multimedia installation The Darker Side of Light: Color presented at the Discoveries section of Art Basel Hong Kong 2018.
This new body of works aims to investigate and interactively challenge how the audience experiences exhibitions in public venues. Feng Chen invites the public to enter a disorienting space and to abandon conventional ways of sharing our encounter with an artwork. The project is based on the premise that, when confronting a multimedia work, ordinary cameras might be unable to fuel the same emotional response to it as the human eye does, and mostly fail to emulate the on-site perception. The installation encourages us to be in the space and connect to the work, feeling how subtle changes of light, color and shadow affect our cognitive visual experience.
The artist has divided the main hall of the office building into two separate rooms. A bright light captures our attention from far and leads us to the first room: a narrow aisle with two symmetrical rows of LED lights and a monitor hanging at the far end. The monitor is facing us and it shows at first glance the same scene that our eyes are seeing. After a puzzling walk into the space, viewers realize that they are being recorded real-time by a camera. Our sense of privacy feels challenged as if a monitoring system is tracking our whereabouts. Feng Chen creates a further layer of illusion by manipulating the transmission of frequencies between the camera and the lights: We are in a space where white LED lights shine brightly in the hallway, but we see ourselves recorded on the screen in a space that alternate from bright to dim. The artist uses technology to trick the human eye and raise the question: is seeing really believing?
In the opposite room, mysteriously covered by a velvet curtain, Feng Chen presents a series of carbon fiber sculptures, Simple Shapes 1-8 and 7 Real Magic Books – Architecture paired to an installation of augmented LED lights. Feng Chen’s sculptures in carbon fiber are part of an ongoing investigation of the technical qualities of the medium. The properties of carbon fiber, such as high stiffness, high tensile strength and low weight, make them very popular in aerospace, civil engineering, military, and motorsports. Nevertheless, it is a material that still requires hand-made craftsmanship to be turned into a sculptural, rigid form. Presented for the first time in a major group including 9 new pieces, the sculptures look at first glance like line drawings or sketches on the walls. When walking through the space the visitors notice that they are instead volumetric lines. In the space, LED lights flicker at a speed almost undetected by our sight and synchronize in this case with highly sensitive 3D glasses. The orchestrated play of white light and color enhances and decreases the sculptures’ shadows, creating an eye-deceiving shift from flatness to three-dimensionality. Before entering the space, visitors are invited to peep onto one of the holes on the external walls, on which are embedded 3D filters. Observing the interior of the room for a few seconds through the rounded wall openings, one detects a subtle and gradual change of color within the space. The audience is then encouraged to grab a pair of 3D glasses provided at the entrance of the room. Once worn, the glasses reveal a shift of color in the space however imperceptible to the naked human eye.