Nature and Man in Rhapsody of Light at the Water Cube
The Beijing National Aquatics Center (aka the "Water Cube")
June 23, 2013
Creative technology director: Guillermo Acevedo
Lighting designer: Zheng Jianwei
For the 5th year anniversary of the Beijing National Aquatics Center (the Water Cube), inaugurated during the 2008 Olympics, New York and Beijing based artist Jennifer Wen Ma and lighting designer Zheng Jianwei reimagined and activated the cellular "skin" of the iconic building. Nature and Man in Rhapsody of Light at the Water Cube is the culmination of their collaboration, melding contemporary technology and data with ancient Chinese teachings from the I Ching. The visually stunning and ever-evolving light and color installation interprets the collective current state of mind and aura of the nation and reflects it back to the people.
The facade of the Water Cube is illuminated through a fluid LED light display that changes daily in accordance with the moods of Chinese citizens as expressed through social media. State-of-the-art computer programs interpret the content of ancient Chinese teachings from the I Ching as well as emotional data collected from Chinese micro-blogging websites, such as Weibo. The analysis of the emotions expressed in the blogs creates a unique picture of the day that is communicated through contemporary color theory, light, composition, rhythm and movement on the building. Separate but inseparable as part of a larger entity, the artwork represents a symbolic balance of individuality, creativity and social responsibility of Chinese citizens.
The creation of Nature and Man in Rhapsody of Light at the Water Cube is an ambitious international collaboration including the artist, the lighting designer, a color specialist, a feng shui master, and a team of creative technology and programming experts.
Chen, Nan. "Ink meets light," China Daily, January 18, 2013.
Holmes, Kevin. "Expressing emotions as a monumental light display." The Creators Project (blog), July 12, 2013.
Ji, Yi. "Water Cube: The post-power fate of this power house architecture." The New York Times Style Magazine Chinese Edition, October 14, 2013.
Platt, Kevin Holder. "Beyond Babel, China’s virtual future." The New York Times, September 9, 2013.
Sebag-Montefiore, Clarissa. "Mood swings at Beijing’s Water Cube." SCENE ASIA- The Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2013.
Siemons, Mark. “Alles so shon bunt hier in China.” Frankfurter Allgemeine, July 5, 2013.
Walsh, Brienne. "Emoji in light on the Beijing Water Cube." Art in America, July 9, 2013.
Xu, Joyce, "New face of Beijing iconic Water Cube." CNN iReport, July 3, 2013.
Zakaria, Fareed. "Last Look: China's national mood ring - how do you measure the mood of an entire nation?” CNN video,1:18. July 22, 2013.