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Short of the Week: A meditation on modernity by WangShui

'From Its Mouth...' - WangShui

WangShui is an experimental artist based in New York, known for their memorable attempts to reimagine conventional artistic formats through works in various mediums. “I’ve become more interested in subverting formats that could reach wider audiences. Like entertainment,” they explained in an interview and that’s exactly what they have done in their 2018 short film.

Titled From Its Mouth Came a River of High-End Residential Appliances, WangShui’s enigmatic short is an exercise in philosophical meditation, sociopolitical commentary and metaphysical filmmaking. WangShui uses drones to fly through the architectural holes in a high-end residential complex in Hong Kong, reflecting on their existential purpose.

“It was an overcast day as I hoped and the property, which consists of six 50-storied buildings, formed a towering wall between us and the South China Sea,” WangShui narrates. “In a city where residential real-estate can fetch up to $200,000 per square foot, it was impressive to me that millions of dollars of square footage could be displaced by feng shui. The Hong Kong skyline is perforated by these gaping holes designed as gates through which dragons can fly through to drink from the sea.”

As WangShui explains, the holes are antithetical to the framework of capitalism as well as the anti-religious crusade of the Chinese cultural revolution. The film exudes a silent power with the help of which it transforms simple drone footage into a highly insightful investigation of gender identity, the revival of mythology in modernity and the commodification of spiritualism.

“In Chinese mythology, dragons are often connected to emperors,” the narrator continues. “These inter-species relationships between dragons and man were mythologised not only as a way to add value to power but also to explore the process of becoming. Each emperor would customise their own mythical creature that would be their vehicle into the afterlife. The dragon I have in mind doesn’t have a singular body. It shifts between endless vantage points, aggregating an infinite live image of me.”

Watch WangShui’s meditative exploration of modern architecture and mythology in his 2018 short film From Its Mouth Came a River of High-End Residential Appliances below.