Following the glamorous opening of The Altar of Bling in May, island6, the cutting edge Shanghai-based artist collective, is currently showing a hypnotic collection of electronic art from the archives in their cozy Hong Kong gallery space. A mix of several recent shows, the exhibition includes interactive installations, mixed media, and framed LED panels—the only thing missing is a sofa on which to curl up and observe.
The collaborative group bills itself as a “collective of tech-geeks and creative talents” from all over the world. Since its creation in 2006, Liu Dao 六岛 (the Chinese translation for island6) has been engaged in mastering the production of all forms of art with a technological twist, brainstorming with everyone from electricians and photographers, to art directors and painters in their Shanghai studio. With owned galleries in Phuket, Hong Kong, and three in Shanghai, the group boasts representation in Beijing, New York, New Zealand, Australia, and Singapore. One can begin to see parallels with world domination.
Liu Dao Art Collective 六岛, "The Red Chamber" (红房子), Made in island6, Shanghai 2013, Acrylic painting, LED display, paper collage, teakwood frame, 108(W)×108(H)×9(D) cm | 42.5(W)×42.5(H)×3.5(D) inches; Courtesy island6
Upon entering the gallery, visitors are met with The Red Chamber (2013), a beautifully detailed painting of an oriental vase on rice paper. Springing to life, bright neon butterflies dance across the work via an LED screen hidden in the custom teakwood frame. Mesmerizing is perhaps too weak an adjective.
In keeping with the acrylic and video blend, the collective has also produced a series of luxury vintage cars painted, again on beautiful rice paper, with the windows as the screen. The scene inside depicts an old school vibe with a cheeky flick of the nonchalant drivers. (Talbot Lago Coco, Liu Dao, 2014)
Perhaps the biggest crowd pleasers are the interactive videos, which feature actors with their phone numbers scribbled across the screen. It Girl (2012) encourages viewers to call, which prompts the phone to ring in the video. Soon a text message is received, and depending on the character’s preprogrammed mood (and yours), the subject can range from saucy to sweet. Just be sure to delete it before your significant other gets a hold of your phone.
Liu Dao Art Collective 六岛, "It Girl" (智能女孩), Made in island6, Shanghai 2012, LCD screen, GSM module, Apple PC desktop, serial server, flash interface, 116(W)×71(H)×9.5(D) cm | 45.7(W)×28(H)×3.4(D) inches; Courtesy island6
One last installation of note, Knock Knock (2012), is an antique style mirror, which features a hidden motion sensor. Step close and… well, you’ll have to find out for yourself.
These entertaining works are a welcome addition to a scene in Hong Kong that often feels dominated by traditional and new traditional Chinese art mixed with imported Western art. Most recent local exhibitions of Chinese art lack a new voice. They miss the mark as a true representation of a region in the world that is moving fast into the future, at the forefront of investment with a hunger for all things new and bold. It’s nice to see something that shows off the creative power that can come from China.
Having a show dedicated to an art form like electronic art or video, something not yet totally embraced by the majority of collectors, is brave but almost expected. Especially in a city known for her beloved neon signs, who also dedicates a large budget to the love of electronic displays. (There is a nightly public light show with skyscrapers as characters set to music.)
It’s clear this group thrives on creating something that is not only meant to be loved, but worshipped. Fit for a congregation’s attention, the collection is a futuristic mix of new media and classic techniques that allows the viewer to fall in love with modern art again, while confirming a new found faith in emerging and experimental art forms.
True to style, the current show has no end date and will be up until the next collection of art is completed in Shanghai. And if you visit—run, don’t walk—be sure to read the info cards placed next to each work. It’s a show in itself.
Note: In addition to the works mentioned above, more from island6 can be seen at Hong Kong’s outpost of Opera Gallery:
G/F - 3/F, W Place, 52 Wyndham St
Central, Hong Kong
Telephone: +852 2810 1208
[Image on top: Liu Dao Art Collective 六岛, "Silver Shadow" (银影), Made in island6, Shanghai 2014, TFT display, acrylic painting, teakwood frame, 67(W)×48(H)×7(D) cm | 26.4(W)×19(H)×2.8(D) inches; Courtesy island6]