In a pluralistic data-saturated world, comprehension still relies upon visualizing information for making sense of it all. We now have the ability to access endless measurement tools and statistics comparing gains, losses, growth, decline, connection, interconnection of existence. And yet scientists, socio-psychologists, philosophers, biologists have come to different conclusions leaving much more unknown then known. The role of the artist is to also to provide a visual explanation of the world. No use showing others what they think they already know. Else they go away disappointed, mumbling ‘Its not new, I’ve seen it before.’
Formfields visualizes being using video projected on martial arts practitioners. The video acts as the qi of a group of people demonstrating tai-chi ch’uan. Qi defined as vital force or energy flow is a mystery for westerners rooted in materialism. With the optics of our eye we can not see qi, which can be compared with other energetic phenomena such as, auras, halos, or vibes. It remains invisible to a Cartesian regard.
Specific movements are targeted for circulation and ‘massaging’ of internal organs where energy can become blocked in the body and therefore creating mental, emotional and physical imbalances. For some, tai chi appears like a slow motion dance because the practitioners are working with the invisible and thus is a much more subtle yet complex system of exercise.
The 25-minute form is divided into five sections in relation to the five elements: fire, earth, metal, water, wood. Line and portmanteaus (word combinations) serve as basic qi gestures. When digitally processed phantom traces encircle and radiate from the practitioners. Like in many of Eng’s projects, repetitive movement serves as her character expression and an effective punctuation to direct attention.
Ambient sound is created by musician Cheryl Leonard, who uses natural basic materials (wood, bone, water, sand, shells) to build a soundscape that parallels the performance.