Work by Casey Reas is currently on display at the Lei Shing Hong Art Center in Beijing as part of a group exhibition running until the end of November. The exhibition, titled Super Mosaic, celebrates the art, craft and technology of mosaic and the creative possibilities and philosophical lessons that can arise when fragments are brought together into a whole.
Super Mosaic runs until 30 November and was celebrated with an opening ceremony on 15 November. Organised and sponsored by CAFA (Central Academy of Fine Arts), supported by Victory Glass Bldg Mat and Biden Art & Culture Media Co, and hosted by Art Beijing, the exhibition is subtitled Mosaic Teaching and Formal Language Research and showcases the techniques, themes and people central to the mosaic art movement in China today. It also invites practitioners from non-mosaic fields to expand the boundaries of mosaic making.
Dialogue between artists, teachers and students with a spirit of collaboration and knowledge-exchange is central to Super Mosaic. This spirit of exchange is international, with practitioners from around the world contributing their understanding of mosaic technique, their cultural influences and their world-view to create a mosaic of perspectives. At the same time the exhibition specifically celebrates the art of Chinese mosaic, bringing the practice into contact with new audiences, and explores the potential directions mosaic practice could take in the future.
Super Mosaic looks at mosaic as the arrangement of particles following a code, taking a flexible approach to both terms. The works on display examine this relationship, looking at how particles of varying sizes are encoded to construct images and messages. The exhibition puts traditional mosaic alongside the encoding of particles in the digital realm with works by new media practitioners such as Reas and Mengbo Feng.
Reas’ works Infinite Command Team and Transference were selected for the exhibition due to their parallels with the language of mosaic, rendered digitally.
Infinite Command Team and partner artwork 100% Gray Coverage were created by Casey Reas in connection with the artist’s Signal to Noise project. The works were made with a programme, a ‘collage engine’, which took terrestrial television signals as raw material and transcribes them into visual collages. In Infinite Command Team pixelation and fragmentation are emphasised before cohering into patterns which retain traces of their earlier fragments. The work algorithmically weaves together fragments of twentieth century Western culture and aesthetics.
Transference is a video piece which looks at the way computer vision understands faces. To make the work, source material from Ingmar Bergman's 1966 movie Persona (specifically any frame including a face) is extracted according to the criteria of a computer vision system. The frames are distorted, excess noise obscuring the individual identity of the faces. Transference is a comment on identity formation in the digital age.
All images courtesy of CAFA Mural Painting Department.