Liao Fei's works A Sculpture of the Earth and Infinitely Approaching Flatness are shown in the exhibition The New Normal: China, Art, and 2017 at Ulllens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA). This exhibition presents new and recent works by 23 artists and groups from China and beyond. “The New Normal” takes China’s evolving national condition vis-à-vis the rising backlash against globalization on other continents as a point of departure, interrogating the efficacy of art—as a medium for both expression and action—in responding to a fragile and unpredictable present.
Liao Fei's work, A Sculpture of the Earth, comprises of two computer screens displaying real-time typhoon monitoring information from the southern and northern hemispheres. Taken from official monitoring systems streamed online, this data generates synchronized surveillance videos that compress spatiotemporal conditions into fragmented data of remote interactions, reducing specific planetary landscapes to names, icons, and code. Here, "monitoring" not only constitutes a way of seeing, but also a means of understanding and programming space, alluding to a present moment that can be infinitely segmented.
Liao Fei's other work, Inifinitely Approaching Flatness, explores the theoretical concept of infinity. The artist takes a log of wood floating in water and repeats this process the action until it is technically impossible to cut any more slices off. The number of pieces cut and their shapes are determined by buoyancy and the water level. In theory, a piece of wood can be divided infinitely, but due to physical constraints, the final number of wood pieces presented is finite. The piece highlights a tension between reality and potential, precision and chaos, forming an artwork that can never be finished.
Text and images | Courtesy of UCCA and Dayu Yang