In Wang’s Digital series, each panel consists of two sheets of paper layered one atop the other: the bottom sheet is inscribed with columns of random Chinese characters in ink, while the translucent paper on top is burned with random characters written with a cigarette or incense stick. Wang developed this method of “writing” after he accidentally dropped ash onto paper while lighting a cigarette in his studio and observed the resulting perforations. For him, the process resembles that of “burning” information onto digital drives—hence the title of the series. Wang’s layering of ink and paper obscures the individual characters, yet the vivid physical traces of the artist’s hand assert the primacy of the creative process and the object’s materiality, reminding us that much of Chinese culture is preserved through a medium that is inherently fragile and vulnerable, and that our grasp of past traditions is similarly elusive.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Brush and Ink: The Chinese Art of Writing," September 2, 2006–January 21, 2007.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China," December 9, 2013–April 6, 2014.