Pingshan Art Museum | "A Brief History of Science by Shen Shaomin" Exhibition Opening

Source: Pingshan Art Museum   Published: August 27, 2022




On the afternoon of August 27, 2022, exhibition “A Brief History of Science by Shen Shaomin” was officially opened at Pingshan Art Museum.


Opening Ceremony



Liu Xiaodu, Director of Pingshan Art Museum


Liu Xiaodu, Director of Pingshan Museum of Art, said that last year, Pingshan Art Museum launched an exhibition series of Shenzhen contemporary artists, from Xue Feng to Zhou Li to Shen Shaomin, a total of eight contemporary artists related to Shenzhen. Pingshan Art Museum has been following Mr. Shen's works and has had some exchanges with him on art creation. Shen Shaomin traveled from Northeast China, Beijing, Sydney, Guangzhou, and then to Shenzhen, like a “migrating bird”, and has developed a strong connection to Shenzhen in the last five years. For the museum, the term “Shenzhen contemporary artists” is not limited to the time and space dimension, but also what artists have left here and what kind of connection they have with Shenzhen – the latter is a relatively more accurate scope and definition.



Artist Shen Shaomin


Shen Shaomin expressed his welcome and gratitude to the guests and read his poem "To My Lover" to all the friends present.


To My Lover



I die tomorrow

Please take

My heart

Soak it in a medical container

And put on a solar-powered


As long as the sun is there

The heartbeats of loving you will be there


– Shen Shaomin



Group photo of the guests


This exhibition is the third project in the "Shenzhen Contemporary Artists Series" presented by Pingshan Art Museum, curated by Cui Cancan, and presents eight groups of works by artist Shen Shaomin. Shen Shaomin specializes in cross-media creation in multiple fields, including installation, video, documentary, conceptual painting, poetry and public art. The exhibition focuses on Shen Shaomin's creations in recent years, and is organized around three fields: art, poetry and science. It continues Shen Shaomin's exploration of the relationship between art and science, which is one of the earliest in the Chinese art world; it also presents his unique interdisciplinary vision, continuous change of language, humorous conceptual interrogation and poetic style of romanticism.


Opening Forum





On the occasion of the exhibition opening, Pingshan Art Museum invited scientist Ding Ning, curator and critic Feng Boyi, and physicist Kaddour Chelabi to have an in-depth dialogue about Shen Shaomin's artistic practice so far and the planning and implementation of the exhibition. The forum was hosted by curator Cui Cancan and Pingshan Art Museum Director Liu Xiaodu.



Cui Cancan


Cui Cancan said that each discipline has its own special language, structure and form, so “A Brief History of Science” refers to Shen Shaomin's thoughts on the relationship between science and art, and finding a relationship between the individual and the collective through the exhibition. In the modern society of rapid development and change, technology has brought social dividends and great material changes to human beings on the one hand, and on the other hand, it has brought some questions that we should think and reflect on, which are also emphasized in this exhibition.



Ding Ning


From the perspective that “art and science” are both exploration, cognition and verification of the unknown, Ding Ning expressed that the only way to push the boundaries of human cognition forward is to maintain a questioning attitude, otherwise we will be stuck in our own ruts. Science is a little more cautious, and it needs to weigh whether it can take a solid step or not, while artists have the advantage of not having to worry too much.



Feng Boyi


Feng Boyi believes that scientists verify everything in the world through experiments and exploration, while artists express themselves through a visual language, and art can be realized through technology or various means. At the same time, the combination of technology and art has a relationship with the public. Art must not cater to the public's interest, but should play a leading role, just like technology, which must be cutting-edge.



Kaddour Chelabi


Kadou Chelabi said, art is an action, and an artist is a person who steps from the known into the unknown. Art is such a force, an instinct and impulse to cross boundaries and swim against the current. It is impossible to become an artist if one simply learns about art. A true artist must have the courage to step into the unknown, into the darkness, and must be able to cross boundaries. So, there are artists among scientists, and vice versa, scientists who have reached a high level can be called artists.



Shen Shaomin


Shen Shaomin said that in recent years, most of the “technology + art” exhibitions are just “technology showcases”, using some advanced modern technology to make a cool technical performance, which does not have much to do with art. He believes that artists should stand higher than philosophers and scientists, because art has a favorable condition, that is, it is not restrained. This exhibition does not have any technological content, but merely brings some technologies or machineries related to technology to the museum and presents them to the public with his narrative. This exhibition is a questioning of science; an artist needs to question everything – that is his responsibility.


Exhibiting Works


"Farewell to Myself"





Space Installation

Metal frame, architectural panel, door, lamp, magic mirror, speaker




Door, as its Chinese character “” suggests, is a shelter covering the entrance to a house, or to a family residing within, hence its extended connotations are “home”, “family”, “clan”, “pedigree”, etc. Opening a door generally means entering an unknown space, arousing curiosity and expectations. A rectangular hall is divided inward into small spaces with multiple doors to form a labyrinth, creating an endless maze for the audience to explore and wander through.


The lucky ones will make it to the center of the hall, where they will face a mirror equipped with AI algorithms to capture figures in real time. When the audience approach the mirror, they can see themselves walking closer and waving goodbye. It's a work of uncertainty. When the end of the maze is assumed to be the destination and exit, however, the viewers end up getting lost. The mirror is no longer the reflection of reality, and the boundary between virtuality and reality is further blurred.



"The Hypnotized Artists"





Black-and-White Video




This video records the process of an American master hypnotist hypnotizing over 40 Chinese artists, as well as the different reactions of each hypnotized artist.


Through the process of this art experiment, we believe subconsciousness appears when it is opposed to consciousness, and priorities of cognitive processing determines the hypnotic depth. Hypnosis alternates the state of consciousness, disassociating various cognitive systems, while the consciousness of the artists still remains independent within the scope of control, hence their different reactions during the process of being hypnotized. Experiments have shown that human consciousness can be controlled and manipulated.



"I am My Own Result"





Mechanical Installation

Metal, kinetic machine




Two magnified rulers with built-in variable-speed motors are measuring each other when moving vertically from opposite directions, one up to down, one bottom to top.


Measure a standard with a standard – which is the standard?



"I Draw Myself with Myself"





Conceptual Drawing

Sketch on paper




To draw a magnified version of a pen needs to consume a great number of pens of the same type. Likewise, magnifying the “self” will consume lots of “selves”.



"Air Conditioner"




Space Installation

Air conditioner evaporator, air conditioner condenser, metal frame, architectural panel, tempered glass, door, lamp




Evaporators and condensers of air conditioners are placed in the same space, sustaining the room temperature as the cooling and heating offset each other. Balance is the result of extreme working against extreme.


You warm up the city's sitting room

And cool down your own bedroom



"Nature under Control"





Space Installation

Air conditioner evaporator, air conditioner condenser, metal frame, architectural panel, tempered glass, door, lamp



Burn coals – generate power – turn on the air conditioner – evaporator converts liquid to vapor – absorb heat – discharge cold air to Space One – condenser converts vapor to liquid – release heat – discharge hot air to Space Two


Cold air from evaporators + hot air from condensers = 0


Four sets of evaporator and condenser from high-powered air conditioners are placed in two identical spaces, with one being extremely cold as evaporators cool down the air, while the other scorching due to the heat released by condensers. When the audience enter different spaces, they will experience two extremes in temperature artificially created via high energy consumption. The deliberate violation of the natural law embodies nature controlled by humans.








Mechanical Installation

Quadruped robot, metal frame, architectural panel, feather




As the outcome of technological revolution, obsolete robot servants will inevitably be phased out. Those “retired” robots are tottering and shivering in the theater, at their last gasps.


Their performance seems to alert human that when the form of life changes, machines might possess consciousness. Will they obtain immortal life and replace human?


The robot theatre reflects on life through death, and reveals consciousness through unconsciousness. In the future, where do we belong and where will we go?

Related articles:

Shen Shaomin: I stand a little higher than Socrates

Documentary of Shen Shaomin's Solo Exhibition at Pingshan Art Museum (Source: ShenzhenKe)