Endless is an interactive digital media installation presented on five monitors that act as a sort of storyboard. On each monitor, viewers see animated images drawn from a well-known late Ming period Chinese illustrated book the Cheng Shi Moyuan. The images depict skeletons, monks, elephants, and other figures in harmony with nature. As the images proceed on a two minute and thirty-four seconds loop, dust begins to fall from the sky in the scene. The dust is prompted by a laser sensor; as more viewers enter the space, the dust falls quicker, eventually covering the figures. When enough people enter the space (about ten), the figures shake off the dust, and the cycle begins again. If no people come inside the space, the dust continues falling in a regular pattern; but once each of the characters on each screen has shaken off one hundred coatings of dust, all the figures transform into a pure atmosphere.
The five-screen format of this work is inspired by the line length of a form of classical Chinese poetry known as jueju. Jueju poems were quatrains often having five characters per line, and the subject of these poems was – the subject is singular and takes is, of these poems, is the prepositional phrase and does not determine the verb frequently landscapes. For example:
迟日江山丽 chí rì jiāng shān lì
春风花草香 chūn fēng huā cǎo xiāng
泥融飞燕子 ní róng fēi yàn zǐ
沙暖睡鸳鸯 shā nuǎn shuì yuān yāng
Translation of quatrains with five characters in four lines :
Late sun river hill beautiful
Spring wind flower grass fragrant
Mud thaw fly swallow
Sand warm sleep mandarin duck
In late sun, the river and hills are beautiful
The spring breeze bears the fragrance of flowers and grass.
The mud has thawed, and swallows fly around,
On the warm sand, mandarin ducks are sleeping.
As a phrase in classical Chinese, jueju has another, related meaning in a pun: it suggests that scenery never repeats itself-it is endless and ever-changing. Endless questions the assumption that the environment will always adapt to the effects of the presence of humans; it is not endless if people take it for granted. The earth counts time in billions of years. It took more than four billion years for the earth to create nature in a circle, and humans only 200,000 years old, but they are changing the face of the world. Before humans appear, the earth’s life cycle is a process of constant renewal. The cycle is never broken. Yet humans have succeeded in disrupting the balance that is so essential to life on Earth. As governments around the world continue to put their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ahead of their environmental policies, they risk everything. As the figures in Endless are covered in dust, which appears so placid, they seem metaphorically succumbing to damage and pollution. But because the cycle is Endless, it begins again and again.
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