Multimedia artist Lu Yang breaks new ground at Jane Lombard Gallery


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Lu Yang, Animal kingdom n ° 1, 2021, aluminum, LED lights, backlit fabric, 39 x 55 x 4 in. Arturo Sanchez / Jane Lombard Gallery, 2021.

More than once during this ever-long pandemic glued to various screens, I have been drawn to memories of my Sims’ gaming craze. I would quickly run out of patience on the Simoleons revenue side and get into the Motherlode cheat-code to give my Sims glamorous life with endless hardware upgrades. I can’t remember the name of my Sim’s avatar, but I jealously remember how perfect my acquired greenhouse was, thanks to the Gardening Expansion Pack I got once for Christmas.

Enter Lu Yang’s “Doku: Digital Ayala ”, she The multimedia exhibition presented at the Jane Lombard Gallery in New York until June 19, 2021, brings to life afternoons consumed in deafening arcades and evenings squatting on video games. Lu Yang is an award-winning Chinese artist who, in a seeming ode to the cyber-entertainment bubble, explores the convergence of intangible worlds and multifaceted interpretations of existence.

Building on his previous works, “Doku: Digital Ayala(Organized by Barbara Pollack) questions the reality of reality, the post-human and how the infiltrated traditions of eschatology survive disenchantment, depersonalization and contemporary boredom tending towards dissociation.

At first glance post-modernist, even nihilist, Doku appears as the familiar and unknown avatar of the artist. Doku is an augmented projection, achieved through the collaborative efforts of CGI techniques, motion capture, 3D facial scanning (and fit), and other surgical-like digital stabbing. Under the influences of the otaku, manga, cosplay, e-girl, and anime subcultures, Doku physically resembles Lu Yang but not quite. Doku is a fluid and asexual gender, both male and female and neither. One is struck by Doku’s evasive gaze on the camera and the lack of outward facial expression. They are neither happy nor sad. Doku is a blank sheet – beyond good and evil.

In the various panels (light boxes) and prismatic video animations, Doku inhabits congested and maximalist worlds of para-realities. Each kingdom reveals a touch of solitude and the search for a purpose. Color-coded stills are reminiscent of shrines, apocalyptic dystopian magazine covers or The hunger GamesKatniss Evergreen movie posters. They feature Doku and their spiky hair standing in various warrior poses.

Animal kingdom n ° 1 is a 3D installation tinted with red and fuchsia hues. The image shows Doku looking upwards. Behind them is a bloody slaughterhouse scene and we guess they are in a cold room. Blood flows from fresh carcasses to the ground.

On the other hand, a green Celestial Kingdom # 1 breathes the days of halcyon, abundance and abundance. A digital blue butterfly rests on Doku’s left hand (unless they’ve captured it). Around them, succulent ferns and monstera vines populate a tropical jungle backdrop.

Doku dances in short video clips. In a case facilitated by a grant from a BMW Art Journey Award 2019 inspired by Balinese culture, we see a Japanese choreographer and dancer kEnkEn breathe life into Doku’s androgynous body. Together, their ripples are juxtaposed next to a fleshless robot in a sophisticated and upbeat three-way revival of Dance Dance Revolution. In this trinity, Doku is a hybrid of both robots and humans – a techno-alchemical vessel of flow and movement.

In another video DOKU – Hello World – Human, the avatar changes size during its dance, becoming a giant in a cyberpunk, kinetic and trance aesthetic interpretation of a video game. Doku occupies an empty Japanese city filled with neon lights at night in a radiant costume that traces the outline of a modified bionic circulatory system. Techno music accelerates the tempo as if it echoes tachycardic heartbeats. Across the various works of art, the atmospheres of sci-fi immersion mutate and what remains unperturbed is Doku, the artist’s non-dual digital and hyperrealistic reincarnation.

Shanghai-based Lu Yang came of age at a time of great transformation. His country opened up to global trade, globalization and the Internet age, which coincided with a paradoxical perception that the world was expanding and shrinking at the same time.

An avatar is an expression, a canvas neither inherently better nor worse. Etymologically, the avatar is derived from Sanskrit and combines the root words of descent and crossbreeding. In Vaishnavism, the Hindu god Vishnu “descends” into human affairs, assuming multiple incarnations – from ten to many, many more.

Lu Yang, Celestial Kingdom # 1, 2021, aluminum, LED lights, backlit fabric, 39 x 55 x 4 in. Arturo Sanchez / Jane Lombard Gallery, 2021.

There is an important layer of soteriological and spiritual significance in the work of Lu Yang and, by extension, in the quests of Doku. The name of Doku is the abbreviation of Dokusho Dokushi which cites a Buddhist script of the tradition of the Great Vehicle – the Infinite Life Sutra (SukhāvatÄ«vyÅ«ha SÅ«tra). It means “alone we are born, and only we come to the world”, illustrating the loneliness of Doku which can be mistakenly equated to solipsism. In this text, the Buddha speaks of the Pure Land (SukhāvatÄ«) accessible through exceptional merit. The sutra refers to a cosmological worldview with different areas of rebirth and transmigration.

When we first enter the exhibition, the light box panels travel through the six realms of existence according to this tradition – namely: man, hungry ghosts (with geological formations close to dried lava flows ), hell, animal (a slaughterhouse), jealous gods or demons, and heaven (an unsurprisingly bucolic scene) – and finally, we walk towards Doku’s transition and rebirth. The realms of existence are mostly haunted by eerie visuals of ecological collapse and urban underworld.

“Doku was born to explore the secret of the human mind and the intention of the universe,” says Lu Yang, as her website reveals more behind the scenes.

Digital: Ayala ”, the name of the exhibition, is more anchored in Buddhism because it recalls the doctrinal concept of âlayavijñāna – an eighth level of consciousness, a fundamental storehouse of all past experiences before reincarnation.

Doku’s space then belongs to a time step or a timeless rather than to a foreseeable near future. “Doku: Digital Ayala” is a project not of vanity but of being. Doku is perhaps what the iconoclastic Overman is for Nietzsche: the memory card of our past existence and a path to historical and physical transcendence.

Lu Yang’s previous projects include “Electromagnetic Brainology” (2018), “TMS exorcism“(2018),”Crazy Mandala Crystal“(2015) part of the series” Delusional Mandala “and she created her first avatar” Uterus Man “in 2012. These works have in common the use of technology and virtual reality to better understand the human brain, experience and possibilities. His work has been presented in galleries and solo and group exhibitions in Asia, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. In a climate of increasing hate crimes against Asians in the United States, his works exhibited in a New York gallery and his participation in the Asia Society Triennale until June 27 are remarkable, timely and exciting.

Lu Yang, Kingdom of Hungry Ghosts # 1, 2021, aluminum, LED lights, backlit fabric, 39 x 55 x 4 in. Arturo Sanchez / Jane Lombard Gallery, 2021.

Is cyberspace a new nirvana? Would it even be desirable to create a permanent avatar of ourselves? Many Silicon Valley Transhumanists cherish this engineering dream, overlapping the melancholy of a finite earthly life and the prospect of lucrative results to defy the inevitability of our death. Lu Yang shows that even other re-invented self-forms cannot break free from the laws of karma (the web of causation and interdependence of all things) and samsara (the endless cycle of attachment, suffering and rebirth).

“I hardly go out anywhere. I live on the Internet ”, Lu Yang recently said.

“Doku is not like digital idols, where they just wear nice clothes,” the artist said in another interview. “We really want to make connections,” she added, referring to the human hands and brains that created her avatar.

Doku trades one realm for another and although the settings change, a cycle begins again; infinity becomes limited. They exude a sense of trapping – not all that different from the cacophonous pandemic days filled with social media where interactions with optimized avatars of strangers and friends have in many cases replaced real-life simulation. A future techno already within reach and not at all fulfilling.



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