Floating Above

These days it's common to hear about the "ephemerality" of digital media. Artists and scholars love to celebrate and critique the presumed immateriality of work composed of zeros and ones, but rarely have we seen insightful theses on the deeper conceptual implications of this condition. Now, a group exhibition curated by Thomas Charverlat, at Shanghai's Island 6, takes the leap of considering the digital condition as one of Zero Gravity. Charverlat's curatorial statement argues, "new technologies have created an effect of contemporary weightlessness that resembles the spatial-temporal suspensions produced by the absence of gravity," and the included works (by Yang Longhai, Zane Mellupe, Zou Susu, Christophe Demaitre, Zhang Deli, Wang Dongma, Thomas Charveriat, and Zhu Ye) seek to create a sensation of floating, with regard to the viewer's interaction with objects. Aside from these unique physical qualities, the content of the work sounds deeply engaging. For instance, Yang Longhai and Zou Susu's LED collages address sleep paralysis; Zhang Deli and Wang Dongma present inventions and elixirs to aid in the act of flying; and Zou Susu addresses lunar systems, merging the history of China's calendar system with the scientific mysteries of outer space. This must be what the organizers mean when they say the show aims for "new altitudes of consciousness." - Marisa Olson