Straight Line, Landscape

Li Ming


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26 channel video
Straight Line 2 min 30 sec, Landscape 17 min 26 sec
Straight Line, Landscape (2014-2016) records a journey. In two parts, the work documents a trip from Hangzhou to Taiwan that took fifty days to complete. The first part consists of twenty-five screens arranged in a line across the wall, comprising a GPS satellite view of the terrain. The second part, Landscape, records fragmented memories, imagery of the places that Li passed through and filmed. While he hiked up and down mountain paths, following the directions of his GPS, he listened to a single piece of music – David Bowie’s ‘The Mysteries’. The constantly repeated image of mountain scenery is an ironic reference to the significance of mountains in literati shan shui painting. Examining the nexus between nature and culture in the contemporary world, Li Ming suggests that a mountain is merely a consolatory myth, a construct that allows us to deny our distance from nature. Two red circles flicker on and off, reminding us that we are seeing this landscape through a viewfinder on a screen. The soundtrack also includes a female voice that recalls public service announcements, an unseen personage who intones tourism information, alternating every now and then with meditation or yoga instruction. Striding through the landscape, aided by his zoom lens or GPS, Li Ming is an urban Everyman, seeking solace in nature from the noisy clatter of urban life. But the intimacy of his engagement with his apparatuses raises the question: are these electronic gadgets an extension of the artist’s body, or is he, rather, an appendage of his devices?
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