Navigator | Part 1: the Shape of Time

After showing Julian, our project tutor, drawings that Purvi and I made together, videos Purvi shot me drawing, stop motions I made for my drawings, and artworks from the last drawing workshop, he suggested to us: “Why not paint on a big size paper together, from the center to spread your ideas, and animated the process? ”

Great idea, let’s do it!

We prepared different materials like paints, color papers, fabrics, etc,  borrowed two cameras for process recording, pined two plain white cloth on the wall as our canvas, and decided to choose TIME as the theme of our artwork.

In China, we have an idiom saying that Ju Shui Cheng Hai(积水成海)  which means”drops of water make up the sea, every little makes a mickle. From a drop of water to the sea,  accumulation over a long period is needed, the same with time, people may ignore an insignificant second, but how we spend our life is depending on how we value each insignificant second. 

So, I started painting a drop of water in the middle, then drew several drops of water, then mix blue and water and spill blue colors on canvas with brushes and my hand, which presenting drops of water and the sea.

Then, I spilled yellow and red color, which represents Earth and Fire. In China, ancient philosophers thought that wind, water, fire, and earth were the four basic elements of the cosmos. If you asked me where is the wind ? –It’s in the fold of the plain white cloth. 

So when Purvi asked me why I did it, I told her, 

“This is the Big Bang 13.7bn years ago, and how Earth was formed 4.5bn years ago.”

Purvi started to play music, the first one was the clock ticking,  so I painted different clocks, and Purvi stuck orange dots on the canvas as the simulation of ticks.

Then, Purvi colored some of the clocks I drew and told me “this is the repetition time.”

I drew a child, the child became an adult, two people fell in love, they had many children, the children grew up, they meet other people and have more children…….IMG_7551

As human multiply, so do all the life including livestock. So I used dark red to paint patterns of goats and cows, which I saw from ancient potteries in Iran and Armenia before.

I painted some yellow-green leaves and pink flowers, yellow leaves, and dark red flowers, dark green lotus leaf and yellow lotus on separate papers, and cut them to stuck on the canvas, then stuck some white dots as snow. 

This is four seasons,  summer comes after spring, green leaves would be withered one day, and after winter, another year will come again, year after year, year after year. 


I also put some white cotton, as the clouds in the sky, which are floating day and night, representing the impermanence of the world.

One of my favorite Chinese writer, Lu Xun, said that “Time is like water in the sponge, if you squeeze it, there is always more.” Which I couldn’t agree more, I never believe in what people said: “I don’t have time to do it.” We do have time and there is always more, it’s just the choice of where do you want to spend your time. So I put some sponges inside water mixed with colors, squeezed them on the canvas, let the colors from the sponge to cover the canvas, then stuck them on the canvas.

After finishing this part, it’s Purvi’s time, she started to remove some of the leaves and flowers I stuck on canvas and throw to the ground.

“This is the time that we have waster before. “

Then She sewed pieces of chicken cage made by wire to the canvas, remove all the leaves,  flowers, and clouds and put them inside these cages and told  me

“People said you can’t stop the time, you can’t seize it. But here I’m capturing time with the cage.


She also drew a butterfly which represented herself, when I asked her why only one butterfly, she told me,

“This is my journey, and it’s only once.” 



While Purvi capture time, I used newspaper and strings to made several clock pendulums and hung them on the canvas, and played them with Purvi. 

Time is the only thing which is fair to everyone in the world, all of us have 24 hours a day, but it’s the way how we spend our time makes it longer or shorter.

In the end, Purvi and I wrote some texts and stuck on the canvas, she wrote “make haste slowly” “Now.Now.”, and “What time is it now ?” in Hindu. I wrote some Chinese idiom and pomes about time, and “Sein und Zeit” meaning Being and Time, which is a 1927 book by the German Philosopher Martin Heidegger.


That’s the work in progress of our collaboration, we will continue to make some layers, and use it as a stage to play some performance or games too.

RCA | Navigator 2: the Birth of City

RCA | Navigator 3: the Infinity of Being


Royal College of Art, London
2018.9.13 Thurs

Navigator | Part 1: the Shape of Time”的一个响应


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