Contemporary China is a magical place. We live in an era in which time is entangled and merged. We see the traces of past, present, and future through architectural structures. And the materials that created those structures encompass time and memories, preserve the past, witness the present, and foresee the future.
PROJECT RE(回溯计划) is an immersive environment that incorporates projection and a series of physical artifacts that takes a personal examination of how time entanglement is represented via architectural structures in contemporary China, showing its beauty and surreal feelings from my own perspective in a speculative and fictional way. Inspired by the concept of Sinofuturism raised by multimedia artist, filmmaker, and musician Lawrence Lek in 2016, this project limits the scope and depth of Sinofuturism and focuses primarily on architectural structures that exist in contemporary Chinese society.
When I first came across artworks influenced by Sinofuturism and created by Chinese artists, I was immediately attracted by the visual aesthetic. After some research on Sinofuturism, I developed some questions I wanted to dive deeper into: “What is Sinofutrism?”, “How do I perceive Sinofuturism?”, and “How can I convey the idea of Sinofuturism to my audience?” My following prototypes were trying to take a more detailed investigation on these guided questions. During several iterations, I realized that my project was still too conceptual and general. That meant I needed to narrow down the scope of the topic and focus on more limited aspects. Lawrence Lek defined Sinofuturism in his 2016 video essay Sinofuturism中华未来主义(1839 – 2046AD) as an invisible movement and a specter that is embedded in multiple overlapping “flows” in Chinese society. It is a science fiction that already exists in contemporary China1. Since Sinofuturism is a concept that includes multiple “flows”2, it is inclusive and complex. I wanted to use my work to express my perspective on how I feel about surreal science fiction in China. I feel those surreal moments, especially from architecture.
Born and raised in Beijing, China, I see rows upon rows of traditional orange-glazed roof tiles shining under the sun, behind which are modern translucent glass and steel architectural structures. The gigantic, metallic and ruthless structures are immense, nearly engulfing the golden eaves. For me, looking at those scenes is a sacred moment, giving me the feeling of divinity. I am deeply intrigued by the scenery that merges the past and the future in the present day. Through these architectural structures, I can see the past and the future fuse and break the boundary of time and space. Since Sinofuturism sometimes includes misunderstanding of China, PROJECT RE(回溯计划) is meant to use a fiction story to demonstrate how contemporary China merges time and space with its inclusion and creativity.