Good as Gold: Mixed Media Art Exhibition

Curator: Dandi Gu
Academic Advisor: Zi Lin
Opening: Friday, 04/26/ 6pm-9pm 
Exhibition Dates: 04/26-05/04,11am-8pm
Location: Novado Gallery, 110 Morgan St, Jersey City, NJ 07302 

In this era of digitally, filled with virtual objects and digital models, we still hold the old commitment to things. This commitment is reflected in, for example, our preference for materializing concepts – whether it is an abstract theory, a comic character, or a digital image, we want to turn the abstract doctrine into a metal breastpin on the chest, materializing the comic character into a doll, printing digital images into files or photos. In any case, we hope that we can turn non-objects into objects – those that can be grasped with and touchable by our hands. We believe that only the objected things are real – after all, from various aspects, we are also things – in one way or another, our attachments and detachments toward each other and the world will end up with things. Thus comes our pathological roots of fetishism.

In a world of things, people have long believed that the shape of things has a deeper meaning. This conviction gave birth to the so-called Metaphysics – just as in the long Neolithic era, people once had a superstitious obsession with the metal buried in the ground: people treated metal as another form of human being, and excavating them from the ground would interrupted the process of cacooning in the earth. A vast body of knowledge is built upon this belief – Alchemy. The alchemists’ mission is not to extract gold from the metal, but to eventually combine the metal with the flesh, and to achieving the final refinement of Philosopher’s Stone—the object that allows everything freely transforming its form through it.

Would art be the Philosopher’s Stone? Or would our computers and smartphones be? While there seems to be no conclusive answer for this pursuit, every device around us is transforming form of some things in its own way. This pursuit has expanded into a series of questions under the hands of the artist Arlene Sun: How to turn a panel painting into a sculpture- into a devise that phonates – into a device that interacts – into a device that acts. As she chooses to scavenge the damaged electronic components from the waste pile, these “problematic” electronic components were fixed in her hands, not by repairing, but shifting into a different context than they used to be located. The devices are transformed from e-wastes into vital parts of works. The value of these devices has grown thousand folds simply because of relocating into different context – isn’t this a way of forging gold from metal?

At this moment, these electronic components are framed into the frame, turning into the target of our vision in this space. Their another layer of meaning has been excavated in such a way. Doesn’t our own meaning usually come from the things around us? When we talk about meaning, don’t things always be the strongest bonds between us and our destiny? So What is our commitment to things? What do we mean when we intervene the fate of things?  Who is the strong definer of whose fate? Is there a deep oriental gesture embedded in this cherishment of things? Artist Arlene Sun responds these questions via the works exhibiting here.