Mirrors in Chinese culture symbolize cleanliness, brightness, and the reflection of a true image. They are regarded as tools that can reflect a person's inner qualities and spiritual state.
I entrusted the Chinese intangible cultural heritage inheritors as the fabricator to create a unique artwork using an extraordinary traditional craftsmanship. We crafted a “Chinese magic mirror” that reflects the Friedman equation under specific conditions, through the medium of light in created an artwork that encompasses light, shadows, and spatial dimensions.
Chinese magic mirror (透光鏡)
In traditional Chinese rituals, mirrors are regarded as sacred objects or ceremonial tools, serving as a means of communication between humans and deities. Ancient people believed that one could glimpse the future or receive revelations through mirrors. The Chinese magic mirror, a special mirror crafted with astonishing craftsmanship in ancient China, appears no different from an ordinary mirror in general. However, in specific circumstances, it can project hidden messages from within (This technique can be traced back to the Western Han Dynasty 202 BC - 195 BC, whose optical principle was not deciphered until 1932). Therefore, during the Edo period (1603-1867), the Chinese magic mirror also became a tool used by Japanese Christians to conceal their identity and secretly worship under religious prohibitions.
The Tang Dynasty mirror (唐代日月星辰五嶽生肖八卦鏡)
The backside of this mirror features a reproduction of the famous Tang Dynasty (618-690, 705-907) mirror. It encompasses the key concepts of Daoism, including the belief in a round sky and square earth, the celestial bodies of the sun, moon, and stars, the five sacred mountains(五嶽) and four great rivers(四瀆), the Chinese zodiac(生肖) and the Eight Trigrams(八卦). These contents reflect the ancient Chinese's philosophical ideas and understanding of the world in relation to astronomy, geography, and humanity. Daoism considers the mirror as capable of "reflecting the prototypes of demons and spirits," making the bronze mirror also a ritual object in Daoism.
The Friedman equation, based on the principles of relativity, is used in cosmology to derive the history of the universe's expansion, speculate about the origin of the universe, and predict its future. Nearly one hundred years after the publication of Alexander Friedmann's most renowned work, Friedman equations have been expanded to encompass a Universe characterized by an inflationary origin, dark matter, neutrinos, and dark energy. When k = -1, the equation assumes an 'open universe' as a premise, predicting and discussing the future development of the cosmos.
Multiple layers of meaning and concerns
Interweaving and relative, reconstruction and coexistence. This artwork represents my contemplation of identity and belonging as an international student during my study abroad. It encompasses multiple layers of meaning and concerns.
The primary layer of meaning in the artwork is my concern for the destiny of my own people. By using the symbolic and sacred tools of rituals, I have chosen light as a medium to project a potential revelation and vision for the future (the universe). As a Chinese artist, I sincerely hope that my fellow compatriots, while carrying the abundant cultural heritage, can embark on a future (the universe) that is characterized by rationality, truth-seeking, and openness to light.
The second layer of meaning in the artwork focuses on how humanity, throughout ancient and modern civilizations, has sought to understand the universe and our place within it. The artwork's significance encompasses the journey from traditional craftsmanship to mythology, rituals, ancient philosophy, religion, religious and political persecution, and modern physics (cosmology). Thus, from the mirror surface to the walls, the light rays serve as a metaphorical timeline, reflecting the evolving human understanding of the existing universe across different eras.
Mirrors serve not only as instruments for personal grooming but also as manifestations of desires, thoughts, and spiritual realms.
As for the deeper layers of meaning, they are related to or in response to my nation's recent social development.
While I am unable to explain them here explicitly, I can provide some insights for the audience to contemplate and reflect upon.
1. During the Edo period in Japan, the Chinese magic mirror served as a tool for Christians to conceal their identity and confirm their faith in the face of religious and political persecution.
2. Although the surface appears blank or empty, it holds content and messages within.
3. Approximate pronunciation of the Friedmann equation.
4. In tradition, mirrors have also been used to communicate with and commemorate those departed spirits.