Virtual Reality, 10’00’’, 2018
Nine Dragons introduces an immersive journey with a flight of Chinese dragons. Led by a whirling pearl, the splendid landscape feasts the audience’ eyes through a dragon’s point of view; however, a misfortune slowly unveils along the way.
Yang Yongliang expresses his enthusiasm toward dragon as a symbol to traditional Chinese culture; as well as his sorrow, when the meaning of this symbol has been transformed through the passing time. In ancient time, dragon represents literati spirits and integrity. However, in modern day China, it is generalized as a symbol of prosperity and good fortune. The changes are indicated in the storyline—it starts with a utopian landscape guarded by dragons, showcasing legendary mountains and nature that have been extensively portrayed in ancient literatures and paintings. yet it ends with a post-civilization land in ruins, where the dragon motifs are only seen as auspicious ornament in an abandoned theme park. Hidden in the clouds and buried under ocean, a modern world awaits.
The work is initially inspired by a Southern Song painting entitled Nine Dragons. The painting marks one of the most classical dragon motif in Asian art history. Yang Yongliang’s art practices has always been influenced by master pieces as such, he continuously recreates traditional paintings and landscape with a contemporary touch. While his previous works feature mostly landscapes on two-dimensional platforms; Yang finds Virtual Reality a perfect ground for pieces that involve strong characters and movement.
On a utopian island by the East Sea, a guardian dragon notices unusual signs of their luminous pearl. The pearl flees through the landscape, causing a flight of dragons’ attention. Along a breathless chase, the dragons discover a shocking misfortune of their homeland.
Nine Dragons is an immersive remake of a Chinese mythology on East Asian dragons; in the artist and director Yang Yongliang’s recreation, the legendary dragons glimpse through the future, in where their habitat is ruined and they are no longer considered sacred. The dragon motif is inspired by Southern Song Chinese master Chen Rong’s handscroll Nine Dragons, the work is currently in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.