Grandmother’s fabrics, pen and ink on paper, inflatable, sand, video (16’30” loop), paper maché, steel, glazed ceramics, soundscape

“Through sound, drawing, sculpture, costume, moving image and family collaboration, ☰pa●○pa☴ focuses on the artist’s father, shining a light on a life that has resisted colonial realities and found an alternative way of being through paths of Eastern spiritualism, science fiction, video gaming, and 1970s psychedelia. ☰pa●○pa☴ reimagines the artist’s father as a new character: a voyager from Song’s multiverse; a shape-shifting figure – part avatar, part deity – inspired by Daoist notions of continuous change.

The exhibition features a new moving image work created in collaboration with Song’s father, using volumetric video filmed at the University of Portsmouth’s Centre for Creative and Immersive Extended Realities (CCIXR). Developed further through gaming technologies, it depicts the artist’s father practising his Tai Chi routine, wearing a costume and mask made by Song. These garments are multi-functional, serving as both robes and armour. They simultaneously imply performance and anonymity, exposure and refuge – and are exhibited here as sanctified relics. The moving image is presented as a view through a portal – a transportative opening which we can see but through which we cannot pass, tethered to this reality by four sculptural guardians.

These works are accompanied and illustrated by a series of new drawings, influenced by ancient Buddhist manuscripts, Yokai Manga, and illustrations from Dante’s Divine Comedy. The drawings reference 五行 (wǔxíng) – the five phases in Taoist philosophy, with its five elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. They are presented as five separate images – but could coalesce at any time to form a flowing circular whole, reminding us of the fundamental interconnectedness and fluidity of all things.

Finally, in a new sound work, the voice of the artist’s father is woven together with Song’s own vocal strains; a sonic meditation in which the distinct frequencies of different generations reverberate together to both witness and effect the passage of time. The sound work dances with the video, but also extends outwards, enveloping the exhibition space, weaving together its various elements, and vibrating through the viewer to nurture a fleeting, unified oneness.”