Spectral, iridescent, shimmering, a woman in a blue wig is polishing the furniture. She swabs a surface, crouches down to inspect the shine, adds a few squirts from a spray bottle, waves her hand to clear the air.
What she’s cleaning isn’t a coffee table or a china cabinet but a cluster of buildings, a complete model cityscape with trees, trash bins, street lamps, and cars. Painted in acrylic, presumably from a photograph, the street scene has a static, two-dimensional solidity, while the figure floating in the background seems to exist on a different plane.
There’s something magical about the way she goes about her business, polishing the buildings like the caretaker of a miniature world. Partly it’s the silence, partly it’s the length of the animation—the full version, which you can watch here, lasts well over a minute—that give the animation its peculiar charm. It’s not a work of video art, and it’s not just a GIF meme. It calls to mind a silent film—or, if you prefer, the looping hologram of Princess Leia telling Obi Wan Kenobi he’s her only hope.
令人入迷的，是她如此细致地照顾这些模型的样子，就像她是这个微型世界的看管者。也许是无声的原因，也许是因为动画的长度，赋予这幅动画独特的魅力——你可以点击这里观看到一分钟的完整版本。这不是一件视频艺术作品，也不仅是一幅 GIF 图片。它令人联想到无声电影，或者说是电影《星球大战》中，莱娅公主（Princess Leia）发给欧比王·克诺比（Obi Wan Kenobi）说他是她唯一的希望时，那个令人印象深刻的三维全息投影。
The work is one of a series of pieces of LED art produced by the Shanghai-based art collective Liu Dao, or Island6. Founded in 2006, it began as a residency program and has since evolved into an art laboratory, with a rotating group of artists and curators from around the world, its number of members fluctuating from six to 26. From its studio in M50, the art complex on Moganshan Road, Liu Dao generates a staggering stream of work, which visitors can view in the attached gallery.
这些作品是由上海艺术团体 “六岛”（Island6）制作的 LED 艺术作品系列之一。六岛成立于2006年，最开始是一个驻地项目，现在已发展成为一个艺术实验室，由一群来自世界各地的艺术家和策展人轮换组成。其成员数量起伏不定，从最初的6名发展到现在的26名。在他们位于上海莫干山路的 M50 创意园工作室内，六岛创作出一系列精彩的作品，并就近于旁边所附设的画廊展出，供观众欣赏。
Creation is everything.
The day I visited their studio, I saw rows of delicately wrapped frames standing on their end, and I asked where they were headed. “Some of them are going to buyers, the rest are going into storage,” said Irmantas Bortnikas, the marketing director. “Once the artists finish something, they set it aside and keep working. If you worry about whether something sells, then you stop producing. And the important thing for them is to keep producing.” The curator and art director play a key role in this process, not only by handling administrative matters, but also in working with the artists to give their pieces a distinctive group identity. “Here at island6, even though each artist only makes a fragment of each artwork, the art directors and the curators are able to organize all the pieces of the puzzle together,” they say.
前往参观他们工作室的那天，我看到一排排细心包裹好的作品，我询问这些作品要去到哪里。市场总监 Irmantas Bortnikas 说：“一部分是准备给买家的，其余的就放到仓库。艺术家每完成一件作品，就会把它们放在一边，然后继续开始下一件作品的创作。如果你一直去操心某件作品卖不卖得出去，你就会停止创作。而对艺术家来说最重要的就是保持在创作的轨道上。”在这里，策展人和艺术总监扮演着关键的角色，他们不仅负责处理行政事务，还要与艺术家保持畅通的合作，确保他们的作品保有独特的团队风格。“在六岛，虽然每个艺术家都只负责一件作品的一部分，但艺术总监和策展人总是能够将它们组合的很好。”他们说。
Liu Dao’s LED works combine a static image, such as a painting, a photograph, or a paper cutting, with a pastel-colored moving image produced by an array of lights. The brown paper background is opaque enough to hide the circuitry, transparent enough for the LED lights to shine through. These works inspire a childlike delight, especially in person, though it’s hard to explain quite why. No doubt the surprise of seeing a moving image dance across a paper screen accounts for much of the charm, and the composition and color choices likewise play a role. All the technical aspects are handled with extreme care, so that the finished product is feels both high-tech and hand-crafted.
Beyond LED art, Liu Dao also produces laser drawings, neon sculptures, and three-dimensional assemblages—such as traditional Chinese vases imprisoned in a rusty cage—not to mention electronic dance tracks. One might even read their wordy “blurbs” as another work of art, an enigmatic prose poem that often only glances at the work it describes.
六岛的 LED 作品将绘画、照片或剪纸等静态图像，与色彩柔和的动态图像结合在一起。牛皮纸背景的透明度恰好能隐藏电路，又足以让 LED 灯光闪透出来。这些作品能让人激发出孩童般的喜悦，特别是当你欣赏到实体作品时，虽然很难解释为什么。毫无疑问，一个移动的图像在一个纸屏幕上跃动，这种神奇的组合本身就具有极大的魅力。当然画面的构成与颜色的选择也有影响，所有的技术都经过极其谨慎的处理，使成品感觉既有前卫的高科技感，又充满手工艺的质朴韵味。
除了 LED 艺术，六岛也会创作激光画、霓虹灯雕塑、或立体的组合装置艺术，譬如将传统中国花瓶装在一个生锈的笼子里的作品。他们甚至还会创作电子舞曲，就连用来描述作品的散文短诗，也可以被看成是另一件艺术作品。
Each season, the artists decide on a focus and collaborate to produce a set of pieces. “Whenever we come up with an idea for a new exhibition, we first brainstorm the theme,” the artists explain. Last year that theme was the woman in the blue wig, who appears in over dozens of works. “When we figure out what the exhibition should be about, the art directors commission the artists to make artworks for the exhibition, and the curators elaborate on the intellectual background.” Collaboration gives their work a distinctive and highly unified style. (True to their group ethos, answers to questions about the creative process come from the collective as a whole, not from any member in particular.)
每一季六岛会挑选一个主题，再交由艺术家去共同创作一系列作品。“每当我们有关于展览的新想法，我们会聚在一起集思广益。” 去年的主题是戴蓝色假发的女人，这个女性形象最终出现在几十件作品中。“当我们确定展览的主题后，艺术总监会委托艺术家针对主题来创作，然后策展人负责进一步构思出展览的叙事背景。” 即使是分工合作的工作模式，他们的作品依然呈现出高度的一致性。（所有关于创作的问题也都是集体回答的，而不是基于任何一位成员，这一点十分符合他们的团体精神。）
Over the last decade or so, Liu Dao has witnessed Shanghai’s art scene blossom into a diverse and global space. The oldest galleries date back only in the 1990s. Even in the mid-2000s, when Liu Dao opened its doors on Moganshan Road, its first location resembled a jungle. “People joked that they needed a machete to get past the wild plants that blocked the path to the gallery and the workshop,” they recall. “Today the situation has dramatically changed. Shanghai’s art scene is already home to amazing museums, such as Yuz Museum, the Power Station of Art, and the Long Museum, that showcase the most prominent artists from around the world.”
Liu Dao is itself a product of this booming international scene. Most of the artists are Chinese, but the collective describes itself as “pretty indifferent to where artists are from,” and it includes a strong international presence. The founding art director, Thomas Charvériat, is French, and current curator, András Gál, is Hungarian. “Many artworks use plot elements from Western movies and references to Western art history, with blurbs written in English alongside the artworks,” they say. ”Simultaneously, we use traditional crafts Chinese and materials such as paper cutting or Chinese realist painting.”
Mixing traditions and practices is key to their philosophy. They recently put on a calligraphy performance that combined Chinese brushwork, Franz Kline-inspired action painting, and Japanese Zen symbols. The point was to play with forms that look alike but carry very different significance. “Even though the outcome may look similar, the meaning behind the art may be different in each culture,” they say. “So why not mix it up and make a cross-cultural performance out of it? This is what island6 is all about.”
六岛本身就是这样一个蓬勃发展的国际艺术舞台的产物。六岛里大多数的艺术家都是中国艺术家，但该团体自称 “不关心艺术家到底来自哪里”，团体中也有许多其他国籍的艺术家。创始人兼艺术总监 Thomas Charvériat 来自法国，而当前的策展人 András Gál 则来自匈牙利。他们说：“许多艺术作品借鉴了西方电影中的剧情元素和西方艺术史，作品旁边会放上英语简介。同时，我们也会运用中国传统工艺品和材料，例如剪纸或写实主义的中国绘画。”
融合传统并付诸实践，是他们创作理念的关键。他们最近展出一个中国书法表演，结合了传统中国书法的笔画、以美国抽象画派艺术家 Franz Kline 为灵感创作的行动绘画，以及日本禅宗符号。重点在于运用这些看起来相似，实际上却拥有截然不同含义的艺术形式。“尽管最终的成品可能看起来很类似，但对于不同文化情境来说，代表的意义可能是不同的。所以何不相结合，创作出跨文化的作品呢？毕竟这正是六岛的精髓所在。”