For the 5th year anniversary of the Beijing National Aquatics Center (the Water Cube), inaugurated during the 2008 Olympics, New York and Beijing based artist Jennifer Wen Ma and lighting designer Zheng Jianwei have been awarded the permanent public art commission to reimagine and activate the cellular "skin" of the iconic building. Nature and Man in Rhapsody of Light at the Water Cube is the culmination of their collaboration, melding contemporary technology and data with ancient Chinese teachings from the I Ching.
The facade of the Water Cube will be illuminated through a fluid Led light display that changes daily in accordance with the moods of Chinese citizens as expressed through social media. State-of-the-art computer programs interpret the content of ancient Chinese teachings from the I Ching as well as emotional data collected from Chinese micro-blogging websites, such as Weibo. the analysis of the emotions expressed in the blogs will create a unique picture of the day that will be communicated through contemporary color theory, light, composition, rhythm and movement on the building. Separate but inseparable as part of a larger entity, the artwork represents a symbolic balance of individuality, creativity and social responsibility of Chinese citizens.
"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 of the work. "'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 creation of Nature and Man in Rhapsody of Light at the Water Cube is an ambitious international collaboration including the artist, the lighting designer, a color specialist, a feng shui master, and a team of creative technology and programming experts.