jennifer wen ma + zhen jianwei illuminate beijing water cube
all images © the artist
to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the beijing national aquatics center (also known as the water cube) artist jennifer wen ma, together with lighting designer zhen jianwei, were invited to create a permanent public art commission for the building. harnessing the power of social media, the creative team has re-imagined the 2008 olympic venue by using state-of-the-art computer programs to interpret content from ancient chinese teachings derived from the philosophies of I ching, along with emotional data collected from chinese blogging web-sites, such as weibo, to activate its cellular skin. the information generation in turn is used to control changes in light, color, composition, rhythm and movement of the building.
‘nature and man in rhapsody of light’ displays the analysis of emotions expressed by citizens through social networks, reflecting the overall mind and aura of the nation through visual means, representing a balance of individuality, creativity and social responsibility of the chinese people.
‘in present-day society, where people find themselves separated from the philosophy taught in the I ching, my hope is that this work will provide an opportunity to reflect on contemporary culture and utilize technology to bridge the divide between man and nature. the daily unique art works will serve as an abstract aesthetic expression of china’s ancient wisdom as expressed through collaboration of art and technology,’ said artist jennifer wen ma. ‘injecting netizens’ emotional data into the work allows the individual to become a part of the piece, and effect change to this landmark structure.’
‘using light to express an abstract philosophy is a fascinating challenge, and conveying the changing emotions of society with light is even more exciting,’ said lighting designer zheng jianwei. ‘china has been making an architectural great leap forward. But instead of a display of hardware, the significance of this work is the focus on creativity and innovation based on the ‘softness’ of light.’
the development of ‘nature and man in rhapsody of light’ was a collaboration between the artist, lighting designer, color specialist, feng shui master and team of technology and programming experts.