The Block Writing

The Block Writing was a site-specific installation for the China Collateral Event at the 55th Venice
Biennale in 2013.

Globalization has brought a great impact on vernacular cultures around the world. The Chinese
traditional cultures such as morality, etiquette, value, and emotion have almost been fractured.
Nowadays, the conflict and integration between the eastern and the western cultures have become a representative topic.

Words are linguistic symbols. A language is the reflection of life and thinking pattern of a particular society, and therefore the language is a collection of the most abstract symbolizing signs of a kind of civilization. The uniqueness of Chinese words lies in “block writing” with the feature of an image. The form and imagery of the characters by writing reach the extreme of aesthetics. Calligraphic artists of all ages have delineated and created strokes and radicals of the Chinese characters, which has become a metaphor of the Chinese people to study and savor their own cultures and civilizations’ process.

I attempted to render the cultural ecological environment in Contemporary China by dismembering and reorganizing the characters’ form. The Chinese characters’ radicals as the basic materials give prominence to the unique charm of characters in forms, as well as a concealed analogy that the Chinese culture has been facing the crisis of dismemberment under the background of globalization due to the introduction of foreign cultures. Most of the radicals were made of white polyethylene foam, some of them in black, manifesting the intention to write on white paper in black ink. In the bright sunshine in Venice, the characters in black and white formed shadows generating multiple layers and tension in volume.
In the night time, the diffusing light from the installation brought visitors the sense of ancient
Chinese people poring over books by the light of candles.

Visitors barely knew the meaning of the installation, as if they have wandered in the ruins of
civilizations to experience striving and hopes from the globalization and regional civilizations.