Asia

Cao Shu
Infinity and Infinity Plus One

The installation Infinity and Infinity Plus One by Cao Shu is a modern fable of destruction, collective consciousness, and future memory told through the lens of a seaside hotel erected in the 1990s on an island in China. Combining 3D-rendered images and shot footage, the work travels through a seemingly-unlimited number of rooms, infinite corridors, and breathtaking viewpoints on site. Meanwhile, an official voiceover tells an absurd story about philosophy and mathematics in the form of a monologue. The narration of the film is also spoken in dialect by residents of the local fishing village.

Thirty years after being built, this hotel has turned to ruins and is waiting for demolition. A new resort club will be built in its place as a  tourist attraction for travellers across China. Yet, the landmark is a microcosm of the collective subconsciousness of Chinese architecture in the past 30 years, which is often nicknamed “Roman homeland” or “Venice community” in postcolonial semantics. The installation and the slow interchanging between shot and animated images make strange a linear perception of time and space. The shot images provide a feeling of real, present, grounded time, and are intermixed with animated images that suggest either a past, reconstructed location, or a future and imagined space. As a consequence, a cup talks and a conference room comically, yet solemnly, becomes the end of the world.

Cao Shu’s works span three-dimensional digital moving images, sound installation, and interactive games. His works are often based on a specific place and space, and ask open-ended questions in hopes of reactivating historical events or personal memory on a perceptual level. In addition, he is also interested in the notions of misreading and dislocation based on different cultural and technological environments in history.