The Furthest Distance in a Paradise Interrupted
Mixed media with sound, projection (in loop, approx. 25'), painted glass panels, hand crafted glass, automated track system, audio playback system, and projectors
What About the Art?
March 14 - July 16, 2016
Video designers: Guillermo Acevedo and Austin Switser
Composer: Huang Ruo
Singers: Qian Yi, John Holiday, Joe Dennis, Yi Li, Joo Won Kang, and Ao Li
Musicians: Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra
Conductor: John Kennedy
Sound designer: Lew Mead
The four gallery walls in Gallery Al-Riwaq are covered by a 40-meter-long painting in ink and reflective paint on plexiglass. The painting depicts a landscape in varying stages of disintegration, and the reflective paintings make the space seem to expand infinitely. In places, the landscape is thickly layered and textured, and in others, the imagery is thin and translucent, reflecting the viewer's image as they observe.
Two glass sculptures in the form of fantastical fruits hang from the ceiling, one in black and one in milky white. These kinetic sculptures move throughout the space in different patterns that correspond to the projection and sound in the space. Speakers embedded within the fruits play audio from Paradise Interrupted, with the white fruit bearing the voice of the much-lauded kunqu singer Qian Yi, who starred in the installation opera. The black fruit bears the voices of several male singers from the production. As the fruits sing, they dance and move around one another in the space, at times swinging violently back and forth, threatening to crash into one another.
In tandem with the moving and singing fruits, abstract projection further heightens the dramatic nature of the space. At first, the projected light manifests as merely a horizon line and a square of white light on the floor. The square of light then bursts into a cloud of fireflies, which dance around the space and settle on elements of the landscape. Then, dramatic slashes, wipes, and flashes of white light cut through the space, culminating in the drop of black ink that falls into the middle of the floor and disperses.
In this reinterpretation of Paradise Interrupted, the viewers find themselves in a fleeting, disintegrating utopia that is constantly coalescing and breaking up around them, with moments of transcendence.