As a multidisciplinary artist with a background in architecture, Chong Yan has always been intrigued by the intersection between physical and virtual realities. Delving deeper into that realm, he began merging machine learning, visual arts and storytelling to create cutting-edge art installations, which challenge the perception of space, reality and experience. His latest – Atl-Aequus and the Five Phases presents a deep dive into a mythological world filled with surreal landscapes, futuristic artefacts that help expand the boundaries of space, time and spiritual identity.
World-building is pretty heavy-duty stuff, how did you get into it?
I was trained as an architect and worked in the corporate architectural world where there’s always been a fundamental understanding of spatial quality and spatial atmosphere and things like that. But in the world of architecture, there’s also limitation. The great thing about world-building is that you can literally do things without the confinement of physics; you can even create the law of society. It’s like you’re designing a whole new ecosystem and planet.
What was the inspiration behind Atl-Aequus and the Five Phases?
My intent was to design a game and spark a conversation – what if in the future, we are all stuck in some sort of a meta environment like the metaverse. Now what if the exhibition itself becomes a game and the user now becomes part of the exhibition. It raises a lot of questions like what is the role of the architect of the future? He or she is almost like a digital shaman, a sort of techno paganist in this digital realm. So it is interesting to see where it goes, as it also paints a picture of our existing culture.
So what do you hope people take away from your work?
I think it’s about giving a glimpse into where our future could be heading. It’s a lot like science fiction. Our parents were the first generation that essentially shifted into that internet bubble. We were introduced into the world of social media, we had a 2D picture of ourselves and that served as an attachment of who we were – a digital representation of ourselves, if you will. In the near future, we could present ourselves as a meta human avatar where we could strip away the colour of skin, our gender and craft who we want to be in that digital environment.
Chong Yan is wearing Kit Woo and Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph in stainless steel,
courtesy of The Hour Glass