On the 10th June 2016 the muddy, anonymous roads leading up to Cass Sculpture Foundation were closed in order to transport the largest sculpture commissioned for A Beautiful Disorder, Identity, by artist Wang Yuyang. Herded by a Police escort and delivered by HGV Identity arrived entombed in bundled folds of foam and bubble wrap and a streamline skeletal protective frame. Caught in the hysteria of this beast’s monumental power the CASS team were quick to mount its carriage and help to shepherd the work to the humble patch of grass outside the visitor services
centre. As its layers of protection were gradually peeled away currents of copper, brass, wood and stone began to appear, suggestive of a stationary rocket and aesthetics usually associated with NASA. Bold, ambitious and not at all easy to transport or install, it was an incredible moment to finally receive this work which, up until this moment, had solely existed as a two dimensional photoshopped figuration.
Standing at over six-metres tall, Identity is a spectacular, monumental work commissioned for the exhibition A Beautiful Disorder in 2016. Its colourful and convoluted folds of layered brass, metal, wood and stone appear at once natural and organic, as well as alien – like a fantastical apparition of what plant life might look like on a distant planet. Despite its otherworldly appearance, Identity, as its title suggests, is actually a product of distinctly human ingenuity, technology and culture. Using 3D rendering and modelling software, Wang has converted one of the most iconic and influential texts in modern history – Karl Marx’s Capital: Critique of Political Economy (1867) – into a binary code that entirely determined the material, colour and structure of the sculptural outcome. The work thus not only alludes to the collapsing boundaries between art and technology, but also raises pertinent questions concerning the power of ideology in today’s hyper-networked, globalized world. How do we ‘read’ a work of art? What socio-economic, cultural, political and inter-subjective processes are at stake in the act of artistic appreciation, and how are they converted into a system of values? How have these systems been determined, and what do they stand for?
Yuyang's multi-media practice encompasses sculpture, painting, photography and video. At the heart of Wang’s oeuvre is the question of how technology – both cutting-edge and obsolete – affects and challenges our perception of everyday life. Many of his works incorporate modern technology, such as motors, lights and electricity, but reference traditional Chinese philosophy; both ancient, contemporary and historical. The use of modern analogue technology is employed as a metaphor for China's philosophical history and its binary sensibility, which he describes as "on and off, black and white, something and nothing".