Urbanization is an irreversible, poetic, virtual-reality hallucination. —Cheng Rans
Always I Distrust is the first VR artwork by the celebrated video and cross-media artist Cheng Ran, winner of the prestigious inaugural Nomura Emerging Artist Award in 2019. Conceived as a sequel to his video work Always I Trust (2014), which was inspired by a computer-generated spam email sent to the artist seemingly by an unknown woman, Always I Distrust (2020) continues to explore the subject of emotional isolation experienced by city dwellers, this time from the perspective of an abandoned hacked email account that auto-generates unintelligible messages to hundreds of recipients.
For Cheng Ran, whose prolific body of videos are known for their highly innovative visual language as well as spatial and emotional complexity, this first foray into using virtual reality is a natural extension of his artistic practice. In his experimentation with virtual reality’s creative potential, Cheng Ran took a highly imaginative and conceptual approach. Always I Distrust immerses the viewer in an abstract yet magnificently tactile, interactive time-space, as they traverse liquid spaces and interconnected portals in a seven-minute experience that is part sci-fi and part meditation, part excavating memories and part gazing at the unknown.
According to Cheng Ran, “if the urban construction is done by thousands of unknown workers, then the construction of the information city should include these ‘virtual builders.’ As rapid urban development brings unprecedented technological changes, the relationship between cities and people has evolved accordingly. This relationship now stands at a new crossroad, over a new horizon,”
Always I Distrust will debut as part of the opening exhibition of the long-anticipated X Museum in Beijing, a “hyper contemporary art museum” founded by Collector Michael Xufu Huang and Theresa Tse to support millennial artists and promote innovative practices. On view starting May 30th, this VR installation is commissioned by K11 Foundation and created in partnership with VIVE Arts.
Image credit: Courtesy of the Artist, K11 ART FOUNDATION, and Martin Goya Business