Ruofan Chen (b.1996, Hubei, China), based in London. Her work crosses the boundary between traditional media technology. She uses 3D modelling software to render the object, then represents virtual images in physical form. While questioning the limitations and possibilities of digital and traditional art, she criticized today’s over-reliance on technology. Chen has held solo exhibitions at Powerlong Art Center, Xiamen (2020), Paper Gallery, Manchester (2020); and participated in extensive global institutional exhibitions, including Tang Contemporary Art, Hong-Kong (2021), Yuan Art Museum, Beijing (2021), West Bund Art Center, Shanghai (2020), Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh (2021), Southwark Park Galleries, London (2020), amongst others.
My recent works focus on the change and flow of human emotions in the current technological age. I like to capture the subtle emotions in life and express them through the combination of nature and technology. The subtlety in work sometimes has a significant impact on the audience. As an artist, you should not stick to a specific material preference but need to actively find the most suitable material for expression, so that the form of the work fits its ideas as much as possible.
Human beings have emotional connections far or near other people, animals, plants, and everything around them. In my life, my dog Liz is an indispensable part. While I take care of her, she has always supported me. We accompany each other day by day, not vigorously, but with endurance. Plants can also establish emotional connections with people. The notion that plants are capable of feeling emotions was first recorded in 1848, when Gustav Fechner, an experimental psychologist, suggested that plants are capable of emotions and that one could promote healthy growth with talk, attention, attitude, and affection. And when it comes to the 1960s, Cleve Backster, an interrogation specialist with the CIA, conducted research that led him to believe that plants can communicate with other lifeforms. Although they do not communicate with people every day like animals, they can also breathe, have their personality, and have their temperament and favourite environment. Although they do not communicate with people every day like animals, they can also breathe, have their personality, and have their temperament and favourite environment.
At the moment that science and technology are developing rapidly, there are different means to extend life. I hope that my puppy can have a long life like plants one day and be with me more. I first collected information of different species of wood, to find a species that has a personality similar to my dog. Then, I built a 3D model of specific wood, with hair spreading on it and vines growing freely; I printed it as a vision and combined it with the original wood.
Medium:Wood, fur, soft plastic, 3d print, mohair fiber, wool fiber
Size:121 x 80 x 90 cm
In the current state of physical distance blockade, the feelings between people can only be transmitted through the screen as a carrier. No matter where your relatives and friends are, the moment you send greetings through the screen, the screen is no longer a hard crystal but becomes soft. I spent 31 hours implanting 30,000 tiny hairy wools on the work, giving the 3D printed sculpture a woven, warm and soft texture. And when this soft woven fabric "passes through" the screen, the emotions of distant relatives and friends also bring a sense of security through the screen, realizing the transmission of virtual to reality and across space.
“ Which brings me to consider not what we see and think we see when looking at pictures, but what part sympathetic magic plays when you actually make one? What do we learn about What Pictures Want? when we make a picture? This would seem helpful, indeed very helpful, because the position of this type of viewer – this maker-viewer – is at once intimate and personal yet bears the obligation to make something that exceeds the personal. ” - Michael Taussig, What Do Drawing Wants, Culture, Theory & Critique, 2009, 50(2–3), 263–274
Medium:LCD Screen, 3D Print, Acrylic box, Monitor Controller, Nylon (Synthetic Fiber)
Size:30.5 x 26 x 7.5 cm
The desert gives me a sense of awe. When people face the desert, the sublime described by Immanuel Kant is bound to emerge spontaneously. However, as the global health crisis has led to a large-scale online shift, people’s perception of reality and nature is gradually declining under the erosion of the digital torrent. Can humankind’s sublime towards nature still be represented in a presence that is intertwined with virtuality? Along with this question, I used Google Satellite Maps to select a no man’s land in the Sahara Desert, observe its changes and create my work.
I find that every gravel looks very tiny, but they have a majestic power when they form a desert. That's much like the code in a digital program, combined to bring unlimited possibilities for technological creation and human progress. People also rely on many trivial things to form a relationship with each other and build mutual trust. In my work, I try to create a moment of integration for the Sahara Desert, which changes all the time under wind action. The combination of digital images captured by satellites in different periods will inevitably bring mosaic-like, covering, and overlapping traces to the desert. These mottles are the changes in the desert and the materialization of time, hence the name "Timescape"
I will hang a transparent tray on the top wall with a small pile of sand in the exhibition space. The actual sand pile is also connected with the AR virtual desert. Next to the tray, a screen shows the video of the virtual desert that I simulated. I installed a real-time recording camera behind the screen to visually represent the scene of the audience interacting with the desert.
“The poet, I said, is either nature, or he will seek it.“
-Johann Christoph Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805)
Chen's "White Peach", 2020 series criticizes the limitations of language in contemporary art. The butts depicted by Chen are full and round like fresh white peaches, and the enlarged part reveals the ambiguity in disguise. Therefore, when audiences see the images, they will subconsciously think that this is a full butt. However, Chen uses "White Peach" as the title to deny the audiences' inertial thinking and Force them to rethink the work. Perhaps, we will have a better perception of reality by jumping out of the trap set by language and symbol. It is audiences' continuous thinking and interpretations that make art obtain infinite possibilities and new life.