Some pictures taken in and around Guangzhou. A number of them are from a hike I went on with a group to Liupiantian in the hills north of Baiyunshan. It’s a pocket of green to the north of the centre, but it feels like you’re leaving Guangzhou for a moment, things are messier, there are banana trees, people drive regular motorbikes rather than the electric ones they have to drive in town. We even went swimming in a lake (not pictured…).
I’m in Guangzhou to make new work. The work I want to make here is a number of (scale models for) mobiles (like Alexander Calder made them), but then powered by a single motor at the top. By playing with, among others, the connections, the masses, the shapes, the motion of the motor, I can cause the mobile to move in a complex, never-repeating pattern. This kind of motion, repetitive but always different, in a certain sense ‘circular’, I find fascinating. The models I’m making here are larger versions, in different materials, of models I made before leaving.
While in China I’m allowing myself to be influenced by techniques, materials and objects that cross my path. I buy and find my parts, materials and tools here; I didn’t bring very much. At the moment I’m intrigued by the tingling sound of metal chopsticks striking each other and I want to work with ceramics, like that of rice bowls.
Also I’m working on an integrated motor unit with driver electronics, that I’ll be using to power the mobile and can program with whatever pattern I wish. I’m buying and fabricating all the components and parts locally. This motor unit is currently demanding most of my attention. Below are some pictures of a first prototype. Some parts were done by 3D printing at the studio of an amazing Dutch/Chinese design firm here in Guangzhou. I’m now having these parts made in aluminium and steel and look forward to the second prototype.
These are some pics of my house (well, my street) and my neighbourhood. I moved out of the gallery, where I was staying the first few weeks, and into ‘my own place’. It’s nice to have some distance between work and home.
The neighbourhood where the gallery is, and my apartment, is called Dongshankou. It’s one of the two old centers of Guangzhou; it’s a very nice area with lots of trees, old houses, historic sites (such as a house where Chairman Mao lived for a year, although none of my visitors have been particularly impressed by this fact as there seem to be many such places in China), coffee places and art galleries.
More images from the first few weeks below. These are mainly focused on things you can buy. Guangzhou and nearby Shenzhen are commercial hubs, there is so much trade here it is dazzling. I spent a few days visiting wholesale markets where you find rows upon rows of shops selling similar items, from the mainstream to the obscure and extremely specialised, spanning sometimes entire under- and overground malls.
There’s a scene in ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ (Luc Besson, 2017, underrated) where they visit a VR shopping paradise that seems to me clearly based on one of these sprawling Chinese commercial megaplexes.
I’m on a residency at ART23, in Guangzhou, China, for three months. I’ve been at ART23 for two weeks, in China for three, and I’m already behind on my blog. I’ll try to make up with some image posts that will give some impressions of these first few weeks.
This one is pictures from the first week. I spent it acclimatising in a very recently built part of Guangzhou called Zhujiang New Town, something like Guangzhou’s (international) business district.