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Public Sphere

Shiting Zheng

Hi!

I am Shiting Zheng from China, currently living in London. Based on my undergraduate background in Environmental Design, the architectural elements and the build environment are common in my practice. My work is often framed around the discussion about the feedback loop between human activity and our material surroundings.

Degree Details

School of Arts & Humanities

Public Sphere

A place is always validated by its participation in large networks, urban contexts, social constructs and environmental ecologies. My interest is in exploring how a place or a site changes, enriches or contradicts the meaning of a work. The sense of place is also central to my practice, especially in relation to the increased alienation caused by the essential gap between human local experiences and the structural conditions that determine it. The hypothetical landscape provided by the spectacle is always full of sublime beauty, while at the same time conjuring contradicting emotions. How does a sense of belonging to a specific place arise?

— In the stadium promotional texts (p.1) collected from websites, the proper nouns are hidden. The place promotion takes advantage of eulogistic adjectives and slogans to proclaim the high status of a location. The ambitious manifesto (p.2) conveys the strong personal will of the stadium. Through the juxtaposition of texts, a personal voice seems to be brought into discursive existence and made part of the spectacular nature of space.

In Yi-Fu Tuan’ s book Topophilia: A Study of Environmental Perceptions, Attitudes, and Values, he suggests that Topophilia is ‘the affective bond between people and place or setting’. The project Ground comes from my strong sense of a stadium as a place.

The project Ground is a mixed-media installation that includes text, video, sound and a site-adaptive landscape. Based on the experiments of transmutative qualities of matter, it combines personal imagination of the afterlife with beliefs and practices in Chinese culture relating to death. Both the metaphysics of death and burial, as well as their ecological elements, are considered in the work. Especially in urban areas, the allocation of burial space and the limitations of the conventional disposal methods for bodies also reflect the imposition of the patterns of human life on land.

Medium:

A mixed-media installation, including text, video, sound and a site-adaptive landscape

Size:

Variable dimensions
What is destructive and what is productive

The video, What is destructive and what is productive, shows images of different labour processes in the form of ‘dialogue’, including a series of events: stacking, burning, sieving, touching, scattering ashes, firming down the soil and washing. Each material used is transformed, in the process of ‘hybridisation’, in order to challenge and confront both the shapes and the meanings of the resulting works. The repeated events presented in a non-linear progression seem to have no beginning nor end - “nothing, if not a certain consciousness of time and the ‘beauty’ of its irremediable loss.”

Medium:

Video

Size:

1920 x 1080 / 08’08’’
seeds, pieces of ground

The ground receives death and transforms it - through the miracles of decomposition and re-composition in increasing complexity - into the conditions for new life.

A 30-metre-deep greenhouse cave at the stadium could house the seven or eight plates of the pitch, which would be removed in just a few minutes. In this work, the carefully cultivated grass, with ashes, is packaged as a commercial product and placed in this enclosed space, restricting access to all but specific ticket-holders. The relation between commodities supplants a personal relationship to the place.

‘Pieces of Ground’ are layered and overlaid according to different surfaces and textures, which provide a base for the grass. These vibrant materials have a constantly changing materiality - achieved by using agar and water mixed with soil, ashes, glycerin, charcoal and other residues from burning - combining the ingredients, and transmuting them into new forms of existence. The process of making these pieces is considered as homespun alchemy. The alchemy of cooking soon evolves into the ecology of recycling. Positive alchemical changes occur where the discarded residues are transmuted into something filled with ‘hope and fantasy’.

Medium:

Grass, pieces of ground, shelf

Size:

Variable dimensions
ROAD, RD, STREET, ST, AVENUE, AV
ROAD, RD, STREET, ST, AVENUE, AV
ROAD, RD, STREET, ST, AVENUE, AV
Fragmentary Grid
Fragmentary Grid
Fragmentary Grid
'Eye Chart'
'Eye Chart'

This series of work is trying to investigate the visual aspect of map reading, including the question of how the visual codes make the map a highly effective subject for manipulation.

ROAD, RD, STREET, ST, AVENUE, AV: Like other graphic variables, the text suffix chosen could be designed variably by shape, size, typeface, angle, etc. Without the names of roads, avenues and streets, the map seems to lose its identifiability, while the individuality and uniqueness of each letter emerges.

Fragmentary Grid: When the grid becomes fragmental, the grid emerges. Grid lines are no longer continuous and infinite. However, unlike map symbols, the grid is not a representation of any specific reality in the physical space.

‘Eye Chart’: Imitating the visual form of an ‘eye chart’ to present changes in map scale and the selection of information, which would become a paradox. The size of the images, or rather, the scale of maps, continues to change, but the size of the letters remains the same.

Medium:

Digital print

Size:

1131mm x 779mm, 1131mm x 779mm, 1000mm x 1300mm