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Monday, January 30, 2023

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LuYang shows the art of the future: spiritual things made of electricity

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The animals on Noah’s Ark must have been bored. An old, albeit spacious, wooden body where they patiently awaited better times. They are now floating in a video by LuYang: The new, time-related ark has the shape of a technoid aircraft, as known from “Star Wars” or as “Spaceship Enterprise”.

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Behind LuYang’s dancing avatar, who occupies the command bridge, a lion and a hippopotamus are having fun on treadmills. Movement is the order of the day, it is the central moment of the predominantly digital exhibition “Doku – Experience Center” in the Palais Populaire in Berlin. Everything here overwhelms you with almost breathless speed.

As Deutsche Bank’s “Artist of the Year”, LuYang, an artist with a non-binary identity, presents himself institutionally in Germany for the first time with this show. However, the work has been present for years, at the 59th Venice Biennale the group show “The Milk of Dreams” also shows a work and in Asia the videos are among the most important contemporary art productions because they almost weightlessly combine science fiction with manga , anime and gaming combine.

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There are no fears of contact with the commercial zone of fashion, an avatar as a model at the Paris Fashion Week is just as natural for LuYang as the (virtual) appearance with the British band THE 1975. LuYang, born 1985 in Shanghai as a woman and at the China Academy of Arts in Hangzouh, embodies the characteristics of his/her generation in an almost uncanny way: Although a real photo portrait hangs in the entrance to the exhibition, one could also imagine the protagonist as a purely digital phenomenon.

“Doku Experience Center”, the title of the exhibition, refers to a work cycle that includes almost all of the works and exhausts all possibilities of a fusion of the levels of perception. LuYang’s face stares out at you from every screen, and every second the characters change their hairstyles as well as futuristic attire. You know that from pop videos, but in the animated world of documentary avatars there are no longer any limits to the rapid transformations. In the four-minute video “Doku The Matrix” (2022), a gender-neutral sextet performs in a church to techno beats, among other things. Six times LuYang, he/she cast himself/herself: once the ideal cast has been found, it can be virtually copied as often as you like. Something like this will certainly flourish in the music business of the future for the already highly artificial girl and boy groups.

However, behind the personal duplication of LuYang there are many more cross-references. A deeper level, which also explains the award for “Artist of the Year” beyond all hyper-technology of the work: It is the reference to the Buddhist and Hindu tradition. The costumes worn by the dancers are in no way products of the imagination. Rather, they are based on the notions of an ancient spiritual idea that reincarnation keeps the never-ending cycle of birth and death going. This idea is embodied by the karmic wheel of life, which in the videos is initially mistaken for a grandiose stage set. Much of the spectacularly staged locations, hairstyles and costumes in the videos stem from historical image tradition.

Even the severed head in LuYang’s hand has historical references

As an avatar, LuYang wears a suit with tattoos that take up the ornaments of a pre-Christian Japanese era. And the avatar named Doku symbolizes the elements of a traditional reincarnation in each of its six versions: including Human, Heaven, Hungry Ghost and Animal. Which also explains the animals in the background of the twitching, dancing figure in front of the spaceship ambience.

Even the severed head in other episodes of Doku The Experience, which LuYang hurls around like a censer and dark smoke billows from its throat, has its model in the hellish segment of the karma circle. In this way, a cosmic universe unfolds in the colourful, crashing multimedia world, through which the digital human stumbles as a zeitgeist in the literal sense.

Such topics interest LuYang at least as much as the latest multimedia technology. In contrast to the documentary, the real artist is quite mortal, feels loneliness or the fluidity of bodies that no longer want to bow to the conventional division into male or female. In a recent interview, LuYang even declared his own finiteness to be the “question of all questions”. The avatar, on the other hand, knows neither gender nor pain, it only ends when there is a power failure.

A minimal risk compared to the emotional clutter of reality. So it’s no wonder that LuYang, as a digital native, switches to the virtual world. Thanks to complex technology and the help of numerous experts from the fields of dance, music and science, his/her art is staged as an immersive experience that envelops and sweeps you away in the Palais Populaire. Although one also wonders in the middle whether, in view of the digital developments, in a few years the works themselves will not soon look like they were from yesterday.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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