The goldfish: the pet, the companion, the ornament.
Carassius auratus has been present throughout Chinese homes in bowls, vases, and indoor water features for countless centuries. It has been collected into garden ponds for emperors and manmade lakes for institutions. In art, it has been painted on hand fans, sown with Suzhou silk, carved into jade, and molded from gold. In the 21st Century, the six Chinese artists of Liu Dao collective are presenting a series of pieces where the Chinese symbol of good fortune are made from LEDs that float underneath textiles, within rice paper collages, and behind traditional Chinese papercuts.
"Night School" shows three goldfish hovering back and forth with rhythmic tranquility inside a long, horizontal stainless steel frame and paper collage made from the pages of an antique Chinese novel. Besides the connotations of peace and prosperity, for Liu Dao the goldfish also represent contemplation, discovery and enlightenment, because they had been the source of inspiration for Michio Kaku when he was pondering the possibility of additional dimensions concealed from the human mind. The renowned theoretical physicist’s story (as referred to by Liu Dao in their exhibition Absolute 0:00) is that while watching goldfish swim beneath him as a boy, their total unawareness of his presence triggered the notion that those fish lived in a 2-dimensional world while he was living in a 3-dimensional one. In many ways his was a “higher” dimension, with higher consciousness, and he has since held the belief that more dimensions yet higher than ours continuously exist.
Liu Dao’s penchant for incorporating science and technology with more traditional artistic practices is embodied in "Night School", an artwork that begins with video footage which is rendered and transferred onto a motherboard. After coordinating the computer programs with the high-tech infrastructure, the work becomes deceptively complex while remaining in aesthetics pure and simple. [Laura Breitenberger]