"Ooh La La!"
The island6 art collective made its solo debut on the Bund with Ooh La La!, a colorful burst of dazzling LEDs, bright neon and interactive video.
The exclamation, an English bastardization of the French oh là là, is used to indicate surprise, glee, commiseration, irritation, and just about any of the vast range of human expressions. In this show, Liu Dao seeks to unveil the human face of technology that run the gamut from cheeky to solemn; sultry to graceful; cute to aggressive. Liu Dao tells the story of our human experiences by infusing the cold circuitry of electronics with the warmth of sensory experiences.
We are frequently intimidated by the jargon and technicalities of the electronics that are taking over our lives, but to Liu Dao, technology need not be alienating. In Ooh La La! the artists have incorporated it into the warp and weave of daily life. A collage of animated LED works each capture a little pulsing beat of a big city – a boxer takes aim in "I'm Taking You Upstairs", a hula-girl shimmies her hips in "Hua La La" and dainty feet trip and skip with gaiety in "Tripping Lovelies".
In fact, Liu Dao explores new media techniques as their lifelong search for a conduit of human expression. A slow-motion video trail in “Wu Dan” reveals the mesmerizing grace of the gongfu practitioner, otherwise lost to the naked eye. In “Biomimicry”, LED panels and video synchronisation allows flowing water and the swimmer’s sinuous curves to meld beautifully with the steel angularity of its sculptural frame.
In many ways, Liu Dao’s electronic artworks are also about 21st-century love and sensuality. A vibrating phone gives both function and pleasure in “Sanya Vibe” and “Nordic Vibe”, two interactive pieces that bind audience and artist through the ubiquitous telecommunications device.
The light-hearted, determinedly irreverent nature of the works belie the social commentary and heartfelt passion that runs through Liu Dao’s multimedia pieces. The carnival-esque, larger-than-life antique cage of “Papillonidae” and the hooting raucousness of "22, v'là les flics!" may bring a casual chuckle to our lips, but the works also gently mock at the self-importance of the technology experts who permeate our lives, telling us what to do, buy, believe and with which appliances.
So at the end, after the cute, campy “Ooh la la!” of surprise dies down on our lips, we are left to marvel at the softness, loveliness and humanity that thrive in Liu Dao’s electronic pieces. To Liu Dao, each tiny flashing diode is a beacon that pushes away the isolating heart of darkness in modern life.