British-Chinese visual artist Aowen Jin has been commissioned to produce a stunning outdoor artwork for the City of Birmingham.
The artwork, named Midlight, is a field of fibre optic lights, which react in real time to sound. The artwork will respond differently to every person who explores it, as they talk, shout, sing or even just move about the work. The viewers can change the colour of the entire field with just a tweet and they are encouraged to touch and feel the sparkling fibres.
This commission is the first of its scale in Britain to involve and engage a Chinese community with art, both in terms of creating the work and local support.
It is well known that Birmingham is the UK’s most diverse city, but its relationship with China is an aspect that deserves greater focus. Over half of British exports to China originate from the West Midlands, and while overall UK exports are declining, the West Midlands continues to grow. China is by far the largest export partner for the region, making up $1.4bn of the region’s exports – four times as much as any other British region.
Birmingham’s manufacturing heritage, its export led economy and its growing relationship with China creates a fascinating British story that has been largely overlooked, but that is increasingly a part of the city’s identity. After months of research into the diverse culture in Birmingham, the artist really want offer the city an artwork that celebrates and highlights this contribution, and to stage a show that will inspire and rejuvenate the imagination of the city and its people.
The artwork is named Chahai (禅海) in Chinese. Chan draws from a Taoist philosophy of finding an inner balance between your ambition to achieve better things and to be happy and proud of who you are. Hai 海 means ocean, it reflects openness and inclusiveness. Together, it is a Sea of Harmony with ambitious potential – an ideal metaphor for what the artist wants the city and its people to feel.
The artwork is to be shown between the 12th to 18th of December across the city in locations such as Birmingham Cathedral, the ThinkTank Science Museum and Eastside Park (where HS2 is to terminate).