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This year in Miami, the second Audemars Piguet Art Commission will be unveiled to the public on the Miami Beach oceanfront across from Collins Park. The immersive installation will be an all-new major work by the Chinese artist Sun Xun that involves animation, 3-D technology, and traditional crafts like scroll paintings, ink drawings, and more. Whitewaller spoke with the artist, who calls the Art Commission one of his biggest projects to date.
WHITEWALLER: Part of the Audemars Piguet Art Commission includes a visit to the brand’s historic home in Vallée de Joux. Can you tell us about your visit there and the impression the sight made on you?
SUN XUN: Yes, I travelled to the Vallée de Joux in 2015. It was greatly inspiring to witness the creativity of Audemars Piguet’s watchmakers. My work combines traditional Chinese artistry with stylistic experimentation, and it’s totally the same for the Audemars Piguet’s watchmakers.
I was also inspired by the powerful landscape of Le Brassus and the sense that everything has a spirit in nature—something that is also important in Chinese culture, and a theme that I return to in many of my works.
WW: What was the starting point for the project you’ll create to debut in Miami? Was there an initial point of inspiration you could speak to?
SX: This is one of my most ambitious projects. Experimentation is key, and for this project I have chosen to use my whole artistic arsenal by employing many different channels to materialize my artistic vision. As with other works, the piece was inspired by my interest in the passage of time, history, as well as my personal memories and cultural roots.
WW: For the project, you’ve created a 3-D film that will be projected onto a screen inside a bamboo structure. Does the film have a narrative, and if so, what is the focus?
SX: The film Time Spy has many layers of references—all based on my study of Western and Eastern cultural traditions. There will be a strong focus on time, and on past versus present. You cannot touch yesterday; you cannot touch tomorrow. All you have is now. Now represents time, and time is not visible and can’t be touched, but it remains the foundation of our existence.
WW: The film is made from carved wood blocks to create traditional Chinese woodcut prints, which will require 18 individual carved blocks per second. Why did you want to use traditional, and quite laborious, techniques to create a film that uses cutting edge 3-D technology?
SX: I truly believe in the brand’s motto, which says that “to break the rules, you must first master them.” With that in mind, it was always important for me to be able to perfectly execute the basic crafts and the ancestral Chinese art techniques, which I wanted to perpetuate, before moving on to contemporary methods. I enjoy mixing both in my works, as I believe tradition and innovation are essential to the evolution of art, because they are complementary. Some of the most beautiful works of art were achieved by only using crafts which could never be replicated by machines. For example, the watchmakers in the Vallée de Joux create most of their watch mechanisms by hand. I couldn’t help but feel a connection to my own work. It is truly important to me that these traditional methods are kept alive for as long as possible.
WW: What experience are you hoping for viewers to have in Miami this winter?
SX: I want this to be a unique experience for viewers. I hope that the audience will feel like they have entered another world, which is why I have called the project “Reconstruction of the Universe.” I also want them to explore their imagination and see given things from a different point of view.
To find out more about Miami Art Week 2016, pick up the new issue of Whitewaller Miami.