As a young jewellery artist, one question has always been on Dameng’s mind: what is contemporary jewellery? Since the 1960s, many artists have chosen to use unconventional materials to make jewellery. And they have tried to embrace new technologies to combine handcrafting with 3D printing and CNC technology to create interesting and significant pieces. But for him, growing up in the millennium, 3D printing is almost a decade old and CNC has been used in industrial production for many years. He has been thinking about what contemporary art is for his generation.
For him, the most significant contemporary innovations are the internet, big data, algorithms, the combination of the virtual and the real.
Dameng’s current work and practice focuses on the impact of the internet, big data and algorithms on society and people, and addresses information security, the sharing economy, efficiency, equality, cyber ethics, privacy, segregation, polarisation, addiction, manipulation and more. He believes that the advances in information technology, and the widespread use of internet-based technologies over the last twenty years, have fundamentally changed the way our generation understands the world and other people. One could also argue that technicians have created a new world where online connectivity has become a theme and algorithms have the potential to combine with big data to become gods.
In his work, the world is divided into two overlapping layers of entanglement. The first layer is the real world, symbolising visible and tangible human connections and relationships; the second layer is the virtual world, made up of the internet, social media, big data, algorithms and so on. In the real world, he chose to use traditional techniques to create a bronze statue. Augmented reality allows him to create a virtual world that represents an online connection, and the way to see this virtual world is to scan a bronze statue that exists in the real world with his phone. The bronze statue in the real world is very clear, whereas the shape of the person in the virtual world is blurred and abstract. When we pick up our phones, we are connected to the virtual world, we have countless friends and
confidants who are either near or far from us and about whom we know more or less, which often gives us the false impression that we live in a perfect community. But when we put our phones down and disconnect, what is left around us? Nothing! Dameng has tried to use this contrast between reality and the virtual world to illustrate how people are more adept at carving out silos of cultural and social cohesion in our contemporary internet-based life.