Faith on Tap
LOCATION Gallery Vacancy DATE06/11/2021 — 18/12/2021
Gallery Vacancy is pleased to announce Ding Shiwei’s first solo exhibition at the gallery, Faith on Tap, on view from November 6 to December 18, 2021. Presenting a new body of installation work, Faith on Tap expands on the artist’s prolonged engagement with the medium of the screen to illuminate the exacerbating integration of electronic media into contemporary lives and its indelible effect, which exerts a kind of satiating violence that comes hard to discern. Through his appropriation and reconstruction of the fragmented reality, Ding’s endeavor proposes a poetic yet prophetically apocalyptic alternative to interpret the technoculture where we inhabit. The exhibition begins its narrative via the video installation piece, Screen Belief (2020): alerting red light emanating from the four screens, along with the structural negative space to form a cross shape, claims a subject position to command spirituality. While the screen serves as a metaphor for the fundamentally altered spiritual life, it simultaneously functions as Narcissus’s water reflection, catering an excessive amount of personalized information to the gazing users. In Left-Right Montage (2021), the unassuming peepholes protruding from transparent acrylic invite viewers to inspect its content: two separate sets of videos playing concurrently create a montage effect to the eye. Intentionally, the videos introduce myriad mismatches of eyes, while the act of looking plausibly suggests a mirrored image of homo sapiens yet essentially the fragmented reflection of human desire. The pristine and minimal appearance of the screen often assumes a deceptive outlook: our prolonged gaze and attention are capitalized as surveillance data; the more we dedicate our time and attention to it, the more we lose the grip of its scope, transforming into a contemporary embodiment of the Nietzsche abyss. The subject position of the screen is further elucidated in Screen Flag No.1 (2021), where Ding’s experiment with the flexible display obscures the distinction between form and content, echoing McLuhan’s acclaimed “the medium is the message” and examining dimension-reduced activism. In this work, the malleable screen emulates the form and structure of a flag, relentlessly swaying in a gust of invisible wind; moreover, it conforms precisely to its content: an animated video of an emoji eye blue flag. It is not coincidental that the flag assumes the same color as the blue screen. The flag and the screen in tandem constitute powerful symbolism that nevertheless reiterates the political aspect of this democratizing tool. Faith on Tap extrapolates materials from our lived experiences in the age of the algorithm, through a playful approach to ruminate the power relations hidden beneath the numbing interaction between human beings and digital media. In Ding’s work, the future inevitably falls into a predicament, where the reconciliation between reality and virtuality is deemed as strenuous. Concertedly, it responds to McLuhan’s concerns over the extension of the collective human consciousness mediated by the screen and nonetheless taints a layer of Luddist sentiments over the artist’s implied prophecy.