The experimental artist Feng Chen’s solo show makes full use of Capsule Gallery’s unassuming space located inside a residential lane. In direct contrast to the serene backyard in full summer bloom, the sporadically quivering shutters seen from the outside gives off an eerie vibe—as though an opening scene to a horror movie. With many artists flocking to and sometimes over-abusing topics such as image representation or the power of media, Feng’s unique perspective lies in his ability to technically and thematically construct automated systems that fully integrate our perception of body and space.
As I navigated videos that document the body’s spastic movements distributed across the exhibition space, whether a close-up of a wrist, or the sensual curves of a woman’s nape, my optic experiences are linked by built-in sonic and kinetic signals that fluctuate and bounce off of each other. The convulsing rhythms of a vein is synchronized with otherworldly sounds transmitted through headphones, which in turn trigger the blinds to flicker and let in floods of light. I felt that Feng’s understanding of the relationship between man and machine is in some ways an experiential version of E. T. A. Hoffman’s short story The Sandman, in which the protagonist falls in love with a well-crafted automaton—reality is not what it seems; automated mechanisms can be equally pleasurable, if not cruel.
The artist’s gift in traveling between different sensorial realms can also be seen in his manipulation of material objects. I was greatly drawn to the series of acrylic paintings also on view: using ebru, a traditional Turkish marbling technique, the works exemplify a spectacular instance of synesthesia, the organic colorful spirals pulsating with irregular rhythm and energy. Similarly, the spatial dynamism of the carbon-fiber sculpture “7 Real Magic Book” is realized by drawing in three-dimensional space, comfortably bridging different mediums.