French artist and architect Serge Salat is bringing his immersive installation “Beyond Infinity” to ten cities in China, including Beijing and Shanghai. In this installation, he has created a private cosmos where visitors are invited to journey through endless layers of space mapped out using cubic shapes, panels of mirrors, shifting lights, and music. “Beyond Infinity” is a multi-sensory, multimedia experience that blends Eastern Chinese with Western Renaissance, modern, and contemporary visual culture into a singular work.
The layout of the installation is said to borrow spatial techniques from the Suzhou Gardens, a masterpiece of Chinese landscape that seeks to create a natural, mystical journey through the manipulative framing of spaces and scenery. The famed three-lined trigram of I Ching is the main pattern that organizes the space of the work. Salat’s steel cubes with honeycomb aluminum panels also consciously evoke the geometries of East Asian architecture through contemporary materials.
Inside the installation, as music plays, the lighting pulses and shifts as visitors move through a series of room-like spaces whose dimensions are almost indiscernible as a result of the infinite reflections cast by the mirrors. On a 9-channel system, the lighting varies from ultraviolet blue to white, traversing each minute a complete cycle that recreates the effects of dawn through sunset and night. Visitors pass first through a blue lattice grid with a darkened section monikered the 'vertical infinite fault' that seems to eliminate the space where they walk.
While Salat’s use of optical illusions and mirrors undoubtedly alludes to Western art history, the visual theatrics of the installation borrow heavily from Chinese cultural memes as well. Medieval China witnessed the development of a new kind of illusionism that conflated mirror reflections with pictorial images. Like in historical Chinese mirror-halls, Salat plays with optical fictions, using mirrors to explode a single room into a spatial infinity. His work blends both East and West and the past and the present, infusing the world we live in with a world of dreams.
After its exhibition in shanghai, 'beyond infinity' travels to beijing, chengdu, dalian, xi'an, zhengzhou, shenzhen, and hangzhou, remaining for three days in each city. The piece is conceptualized as an extension of salat's 2007 architectural installation, also entitled 'beyond infinity' but creating an immersive world of a different nature.