Shawn Lawson: Wu Wei

  • ©,



    Wu Wei


Creation Year:



    Digital Media


Artist Statement:

    Wu Wei is the fundamental Taoist principle meaning “without action.” This interactive work requires the viewer to act, without acting. Physical stillness combined with contemplative meditation entice the viewer in this 16th-century Chinese painting. Consistent attention gradually encourages the painting to appear. When it has fully appeared, specific elements begin to animate: clouds roll with the wind, water laps on the rocks, leaves descend from the trees, and birds navigate the horizon. Additionally and almost imperceptibly the sounds of the painting accompany the animation. This work asks viewers to invest a few moments of their time. It does not respond to quick movements or to anyone standing near the bench. In either of these situations, the work will fade out and become silent.

Technical Information:

    A camera, directly above the bench, is used by a computer-vision algorithm to track visitor presence and movement. The result then determines the progression or regression of the visual and audio. The animation is randomly generated on demand. It is never the same twice. This diminishes any noticeable repetition that may occur during the viewer’s experience.