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Dai Yun’s New Work: Large-scale Public Art Installation “54321”

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February 13, 2023 @ 8:00 am 5:00 pm

How far can the future go?

In the movie “Interstellar”, Cooper, a former NASA astronaut played by Matthew McConaughey, took a spacecraft to the black hole on the other side of the Milky Way to seek the answer to the survival of human beings in the future. The black hole is one hour, the earth has been seven years, and when he finally returns, he is still in his prime, but his daughter is already old.

How close can the future be?

The words “Future Covenant” in front of him flashed with silver light, like some kind of mysterious summoning from different time and space. The cold gray and transparent space capsule is in front of the eyes. Under the setting sun, it is plated with a layer of charming golden yellow, which makes people feel like they are in “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” written by Philip Dick. ” in the cyberpunk scene.

The double-decker space capsule is as gigantic as depicted in a science fiction movie. It airborne in the center of the bustling commercial community square in Shenzhen in one day, which is surprising and curious.

The hatch is open, and you and I are only thirty-eight steps away from this “future appointment”.

Artist Dai Yun’s latest work – aerial video of the large-scale public art installation “54321”. Source: Qiaochengfang Q-PLEX

01: City Center, A Space Odyssey

Going up the stairs, the installation made of gray acrylic and metal exudes an irresistible atmosphere.

The ten-meter-high space capsule is quiet and eye-catching, the main device cabin rotates slowly, the spherical signal transmitter on the top of the tower flashes white light at a uniform frequency, and the LED screen on the left keeps repeating “5, 4, 3, 2, 1” countdown.

And when he walked into the hatch, he was instantly teleported to another space.

Looking around, it is a delicate and meticulous space capsule design. The cut and spliced ​​acrylic is carefully arranged into a code pattern. The mysterious visual language is like a chat record with space, which is novel and a little cordial.

Looking up, the round screen of the whole body presents another time and space. The dreamlike cosmic scene is right in front of you – the earth shines like a huge blue gem in the vast galaxy, and the mountains, rivers, oceans, and deserts come in beautiful textures. The unfathomable blue of the universe contrasts with the white and ethereal atmosphere, and the distant sun casts light, creating a soft dream world.

In the blink of an eye, thousands or even hundreds of millions of stars flickered in front of us like finely broken diamonds, converging into a river of galaxies. The field of vision continued to extend forward, the scene continued to flow, passing through meteors, through dust fragments, and the continuous sound of mechanical operation from the space capsule was constantly repeating: set off, set off.

Once again, focus your attention on the outside of the space and pass through the transparent cabin. The warm yellow light on the square is like a gentle yarn. The pedestrians passing by turn into stars, and the trees sway and drop mottled silhouettes. The paintings with nature are all in front of the eyes, not only indicating the characteristics of the space where the installation is located, but also giving the viewer a sense of floating that is difficult to distinguish between reality and reality.

Flying back and forth, really a space roaming.

02: Take ten months to go to the future together

This large-scale public art installation titled “54321” comes from the cooperation between Nanshan Qiaochengfang Q-PLEX and artist Professor Dai Yun.

Q-PLEX Q-PLEX is located in the west section of Qiaoxiang Road, Nanshan District, Shenzhen. Against the background of the quiet and leisurely atmosphere of the OCT area, it has a unique humanistic flavor and forms a natural dialogue with the lush Qiaoxiang Road. The addition of the “54321” installation also adds a new visual focus here. Faced with the cooperation invitation to make such a landmark public art installation, for Professor Dai Yun, the starting point is to think about how to organically integrate the characteristics of public art with the commercial space where it is located, so as to highlight the locality of the installation. , Artistic and interactive features: “How to make art not only express the vitality of Shenzhen, a region with a large number of young people, but also distinguish it from other trendy images and have independent characteristics?” He said in an interview.

At the beginning of creation, my country’s “Tianwen-1” Mars probe successfully landed on Mars. This Mars exploration journey is the first step for China to independently carry out planetary exploration. “Not only does it make me feel proud of the nation and the country, but it also represents the tenacity of human beings in the face of continuous exploration of space and the universe, which is very triggering to me.”

Then focus on the area where Qiaochengfang is located, surrounded by high-tech industry companies and design-related institutions, and jointly promote Shenzhen’s urban goal of building a smart city with the power of technology and humanities. Qiaochengfang itself is a community-based commercial complex. The overall building is dominated by simple and soft post-modern industrial style. The block LOFT and office buildings are distributed in a well-proportioned manner, the materials of wood and metal collide, and the ingenious green plant ramps are all It highlights the inclusive and open family scale of the space itself. In this context, the overall style direction of this public art work with a sense of technology and a sense of the future is ready to emerge, and the inspiration for the space capsule installation is gradually taking shape.


Taking into account the volume and shape of the installation, the artist adopts a tower-shaped structure, which is not only more prominent in visual presentation, but also can play a role in “lifting up” the landmark installation. The shape of the space capsule not only condenses the style of the community and the city, but also highlights the local characteristics of the space where it is located, but also fits the creator’s origin of inspiration and expresses the artist’s thinking about the future of the city and the future of mankind.

After ten months of creation and construction, the installation “54321” finally took shape in Qiaochengfang South Square. The origin of the title of the work is to simulate the countdown of the rocket launch – an expression of the coming future, a manifestation of a smart city of science and technology, algorithms and digital logic. The choice of materials is ingeniously integrated with the overall theme. The acrylic cabin builds the transparent texture of the main body of the device, and the design of metal decoration adds a hard-core technological interest.

“Unlike my previous works, people used to watch the work around the entity, “54321” provides a subjective perspective.” While emphasizing the local characteristics of the installation, the artist also considers the relationship between the audience and the audience. Interactive Design. The design of the thirty-eight steps complements the installation to form a complete organism. The stepped surface interspersed with green plants and the spherical signal transmitter device on the side bring the viewer a sense of interest in moving and changing the scenery, allowing people to view the detailed design of the outside of the device from different perspectives when walking to the main device: the middle The four characters “Agreement to the Future” on the LED screen seem to be sending an invitation. The countdown numbers on the left screen pass like shooting stars. The silver decoration on the whole body exudes a sense of technology, and the signal light on the top has a flashing white light…

The hollow structure allows the viewer to be in it. The ring-shaped screen at the top plays the images of the space universe, responding to the human beings in the historical trajectory of the long river of time and the dream-seeking journey of the stars and the sea. Have an immersive interactive experience.

If you browse carefully, you will find that there is a small glass sculpture near the door frame in the cabin. It comes from the cannon battle “Changing Monkey” in Professor Dai Yun’s childhood memory, and the southern children call it “Climbing Cannon”. “It was in the early 1970s, and children would play those small firecrackers during Chinese New Year, with a thin rod at the bottom that would shoot up into the sky. Although the printing was rough, you could see rockets and spaceships printed on it. Or the little figure of an astronaut,” he recalls. The exquisite miniature version of the sky cannon crosses the boundary of time and space and enters the space capsule. Childhood memories are shining again at this moment, and the detailed settings with traces of life make this installation standing in a large public square a little tender.


For the artist, the work “54321” also brings some attempts and practices to how large-scale public art can be harmoniously integrated into commercial complexes without losing its inherent uniqueness, and returns to the core publicity of public art. Expresses, “No matter what level of viewers or tourists, I hope this work can be understood and understood.” People from different backgrounds who come here can interact with art in this field. become part of the creation.

03: Dialogue with Artists: Sincere Creation, Comes from the Soil

Deep Living also had a dialogue with Professor Dai Yun, the creator of the “54321” installation. From the creator’s point of view, he introduced us more details behind the installation, and provided us with an in-depth understanding of how public installation art can reach the public. think.

Q: deep living method

A: Dai Yun

Dai Yun  
Professor and Graduate Tutor of School of Creative Design, Shenzhen University of Technology  

Q: “54321” is a work that gives people a strong sense of technology and the future. Why did you choose such a style to present this installation art work in cooperation with Qiaochengfang?

A: This is a relatively large-scale public art work. Public art emphasizes locality, which means that artists need to target a specific site environment when creating.

We have communicated with the person in charge of Qiaochengfang many times, and also conducted research with my team, Wushe Space Design Office. As a Shenzhen Innovation Industrial Park, Qiaochengfang also includes companies and institutions in high-tech industries. Nanshan District, where it is located, is also a gathering place for high-tech industries. Moreover, Shenzhen is also an international innovative city with a strategic plan to build a new national smart city benchmark city. Based on this, the overall style of the work integrates technology, digital, and future elements.

Q: Can you tell us about the interactive design of the work? How will it relate and resonate with the public?

A: “54321” has a dynamic device on the dome at the top of the tower, which will rotate slowly according to the set time. The signal lights designed above will flash continuously after absorbing solar energy.

This kind of rotation and flickering, to a certain extent, gives everyone a psychological hint. Because when you are at a distance from it, the first thing you can see is the light; when you walk down the steps to the inside of the capsule, you can feel it turning.

We set up a digital media display screen above the capsule, simulating the circular window of the capsule, and the audience can see the picture of the stars moving around the universe. Especially with the surrounding lights of their own formats, reflecting on the acrylic material, everyone standing there will feel like they are in the universe.

Q: What kind of “dialogue” do you expect to have with the audience or tourists who enter it through the work “54321”?

A: No matter what level of viewers or tourists, at least I hope this work can be understood and understood. This is also one of the important features that public art emphasizes very much – publicity.

A work of public art, at some level, is the result of mutual recognition, not just the artist’s personal likes and dislikes or artistic trajectory, nor is it a combination of Party A’s personal opinions. During the creative process, I am particularly grateful to the coordinator of Qiaochengfang, who has always given me a very broad creative freedom and respects our creative ideas.

This time, it is different from my previous works. In the past, people mostly watched the works around the entity, which is a “passive acceptance” perspective; but “54321” actually provides a subjective perspective. The steps we designed outside the work actually realize this function. When you walk up the steps, you will have a dynamic sense of moving and changing scenery.

I believe that the young tourists who come here, different families, art lovers, children…the moment they actually enter the space capsule, the charm will touch them.

Q: In 2005, your work “Living in Shenzhen” was exhibited at the “Shenzhen-Hong Kong UrbanArchitecture Bi-City Biennale”, and in 2018, “Sculpture Shenzhen” showed the urbanization process of Shenzhen. What new experiences and feelings do you have when creating “54321” this time? And along with the creation process, what new understanding have you gained about the city of Shenzhen?

A: I live and work in Shenzhen, and I have a lot of personal experience or “something to say” about this city.

In 2005, at the first “Shenzhen-Hong Kong UrbanArchitecture Bi-City Biennale”, I created “Living in Shenzhen”, which was inspired by the flying chess we played when we were young. With the scenes of life captured by the camera, viewers can experience the events that happen in Shenzhen every year like flying chess on the chessboard. The real situation of this special urban life, I put it together in a game of chess.

In 2018’s “Sculpture Shenzhen”, I reassembled the semi-finished products in the Shenzhen sculpture processing factory, and used this design language to reflect the state of Shenzhen’s urbanization process. Some curators and artists think this is a great piece of work, and they think it is very grounded. After such reassembly and interpretation, you may think more about the public space and spirit of the city of Shenzhen.

In terms of art itself, I have long been concerned about the living conditions and humanistic spirit of people in the city, as well as the topics they may face, and this “54321” is also such a continuous observation of the city.

Q: Today’s commercial complexes are paying more and more attention to public art as an integral part of their community culture. How do you view the phenomenon of the integration of commercial complexes and public art?

A: Public installations used to be a kind of metalanguage of grand narratives in the past era, bearing the functions of commemoration and authoritative declaration.

With the development of urban renewal and pop art, public art has entered commercial complexes, which to some extent caters to the development of the entire artistic trend. Public art has gradually entered a more popular and friendly environment. Its function is to emphasize the participation of the public and meet people’s needs for viewing, interacting, and “checking in”.

And this kind of integration of public art and commercial complex, I think in the process of creation, it is also necessary to experience the characteristics of the environment in which it is located, so that people can really like it, not just for temporary fun or fun.

04: Unlimited future, unlimited imagination

As Professor Dai Yun said, “I hope to use this artwork that symbolizes infinite imagination to create a field in the image of the future, so that the work can become a landmark guide to empower the community square. This is also the original intention of creating the installation. The idea of ​​the installation is to have a strong gathering attribute while having a use value, empowering the square life of the community and providing a diverse lifestyle.”

Going back to the installation site, under the synthwave style music, the laser spotlights moved slowly along the space capsule, and the outline of the capsule was drawn one by one; the signal transmitter on the top of the cabin slowly rotated , the countdown of “5, 4, 3, 2, 1” appears in rotation on the LED screen, like an instant sci-fi movie in the center of a bustling city.

Project information 

🕛 Open to the public from January 10, 2022

📍 Qiaochengfang South Plaza, No. 4080 Qiaoxiang Road, Nanshan District, Shenzhen (next to Starbucks) Qiaochengfang

🎫 Free visit, direct airborne