The Age of Digital / Analogue is a series forming one of the nine parts of Lu Sisi’s monumental epic The Age of Digital. Lu’s 2011-13 epic offers a historical reflection on the industrial revolution, its parts ranging from epoch-marking new industrial technologies such as printing presses, weaving looms, cameras and steam engines to the Welsh forests once lost to industrialisation but now regrown. Lu Sisi’s visionary treatment of this history rivals an epic poem, majestic in its endeavour and pathos. Like a taikonaut from the future who roves back through history, it fuses and intersects chaos, technology and romanticism.
Lu Sisi shifts his unique gaze from the industrial revolution to a broader theme in history and human creative endeavour in li 㸚 (2017). A digital audio-visual creation already experienced by museum-goers in Beijing and Shanghai, this is a cross-genre exploration, by way of Peking opera and electronic music, that reassembles shattered fragments of the Eastern and Western visual and auditory experiences in digital and analogue form into a lustrous audiovisual tapestry.
From industry to nature and back to human culture, Lu Sisi’s romantic sensibility informs his entire œuvre. Far more than an artist in thrall to the senses, Lu Sisi adds overarching narrative logic and ambition, creates warp and weft between Eastern and Western cultures, and draws threads across space and time; dreamily but deftly, he foregrounds the charm of romanticism within technology.
Innumerable scintillae of insight form a circle of enlightenment, crystallising as lessons in the past, present and future. Lu Sisi’s digital romanticism betrays a dream – a yearning – of unique texture. His is a stance, an allusion, an all-encompassing discipline, as if he took on a new body and soul to wander between the ages through audiovisual pathways.
Whereas the tension between the technological era and romanticism remains unresolved, and its higher meaning remains too hard for us to grasp, leaving us trying both to break down and to conserve them like things or substances, Lu Sisi offers an excellent sword to this Gordian knot. The exhibition consists of 13 digital works of art, both dynamic and static, with which Lu Sisi uses digital audiovisual media to unearth the future and teleport to the past.
NB: TAIKONAUT is a portmanteau of the Chinese word taikong (space) and the Greek word naútēs (voyager, sailor). Western media is increasingly accepting of this word for Chinese astronauts, and it is a recent addition to major English dictionaries.