Hu Shaoming, a young and talented art student from Guangzhou Art Academy has recently attracted the unexpected attention of the local art world with his curious exhibition entitled “Reconnecting Time” (“He: Shiguan Xilie” in Chinese).
Supported by Guangzhou Art Academy, he developed the project as an essay within the frame of his studies. “It was just homework,” he says, “but I always put a lot of energies and take the maximum out of these tasks.” Hu has collected four different objects from four countries—UK, US, Japan and France—and four decades, all representing his keen interest for old mechanics: a phone from the 1910s, a clock from the 1920s, a camera from the 1930s and a portable film camera from the 1940s. In four months’ time he entirely disassembled them, one by one, and embedded a metal zipper in each one, opening a breach on the gears behind the surface. “I used the zipper to open a window on these great industrial discoveries of humanity,” says Hu. “I feel like I’m bringing history back to the present. Breaking the objects into parts, reassembling them, inlaying a zipper, it’s been a way to communicate with time and reconnect with the past. It’s often been a challenging work because I also had to preserve the nature of the original objects, without damaging or corrupting them.”
Frequently working with metals Hu has always been fascinated by the past and the complex aesthetics of mechanical mazes. “I’ve always loved weird objects,” he says. “Old clocks, cameras, phones. it’s amazing to me how these objects from the past can have such an exquisitely precise composition. I used to paint before, but it didn’t fully satisfy my need for a more tangible media, that’s the reason why I decided to study sculpting.”
Fittingly, Hu finds himself in Guangzhou, the chaotic capital of Guangdong province in the south of China, one of the main hubs of Chinese industrial production and one of the biggest trading ports. The whole province is scattered with factories for digital products, textiles, shoes and furniture—most of the Made in China products we consume worldwide comes from this area. The city’s proximity to all sorts of material, machinery and production facilities makes it a playground for artists, an ideal place to experience new media and techniques.
“Reconnecting Time” opens a door through time in an era of immaterial data flowing through wires, chips and circuits as objects become polarized toward a representation of their functions. Shaoming’s zippers reveal an old world, where the perfection and beauty of old mechanics become a tangible counterpart of the history of human genius.
“Reconnecting Time” is on permanent display alongside other student work at the Guangzhou Art Academy. To see more of his work visit Jue.so (a Kickstarter-type site in China).
Images courtesy of Hu Shaoming and Alessandro De Toni.