Some of us are late bloomers. Not Hu Shaoming. Last year, while still in school at The Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, he created a 4 piece exhibit over 4 months entitled Reconnecting Time that set the internet abuzz.

In “The age of Mechanical Reproduction” as cultural critic Walter Benjamin put it, Hu Shaoming’s art is handcrafted with meticulous precision – the closer you look, the more details you find – from very mechanically reproduced objects.

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Coolhunting describes his home city of Guangzhou as: “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 come 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.”

The past is a source of intrigue for this artist, as he showed in Reconnecting Time, altering four antiques which he had purchased all over the world, fascinated with their “exquisitely precise composition”.

This year, the young sculptor, now graduated, has produced two more works that are lighting up the web art scene, Umbrella and City of Dreams. Hu Shaoming continues to connect to the past, this time by building incredibly intricate cities of cylindrical buildings from every kind of mechanically reproduced bit, bob, and gizmo, from buttons and knobs to gears and salt shaker tops.

As the metropolis, reminiscent of Fritz Lang’s 1927 film of the same name, grows away from a traditional Chinese parasol in Umbrella, representing China’s traditional past as the city’s foundation. The look of the buildings also recalls Art Deco style which, circularly enough, was inspired by machines and mechanical production.

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In City of Dreams, another metropolis grows from the head of a giant seahorse which, again, beneath its translucent ‘skin’ is constructed of mechanical bits, polished and precise. The foundation of our modern cities is indeed nature, without which neither they, nor we, their inhabitants would exist. The same mechanical bits throughout the piece demonstrate our connectedness, that we are literally “made of the same stuff”. Although such statements have been made to the point of cliché, the sculptor manages to say them in a fresh, new, thought-provoking way, evoking multiple pasts; Mechanical products of the past, rapidly being replaced by electronics, the past when nature dominated mankind, the past of Chinese traditional life, and past dreams of a Utopian future. What else do these pieces evoke in your imagination?

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