At the occasion of the ”Automotive Innovation Exhibition” taking place on Haixinsha Island, German car manufacturer Audi and The Artist Network and commissioned Formavision to create an installation celebrating Audi’s relentless innovations.
Reacting to Audi’s breakthrough in extra-light weight technology, we filled a spherical room fifteen meters in diameter with over a thousand silver foil balloons, some filled with air and others with helium, all reflecting a hypnotic image of the car, the room and its visitors. Floating on the ceiling, fifteen wireless speakers played an electronic symphonic dialogue of filtered industrial sounds mixed with the songs of thirty different birds.
The installation was based on Sufi poet Farid ud-Din Attar’s series of poems called “The Conference of the Birds.” Written in 1177, these poems tell the tale of thirty birds who embark on a long journey in order to elect a King. Their perilous flight takes them from Persia to China with the goal of finding the Simorgh – the Chinese Phoenix – supposed to embody the most accomplished of the birds.
After painfully crossing the seven initiatic valleys of yearning, love, gnosis, detachment, unity of God, bewilderment and selflessness, they finally reach the land of the Simorgh. Upon arrival, they find only a quiet lake with no sign of the mythical bird. Approaching the lake and looking down, they see their own reflections and come to realize that God is simply within them, that they hold their own destinies in their hands.
The poems of Farid ud-Din Attar embody Audi’s constant involvement in both incremental and radical innovations. The concept was particularly directed towards the Chinese audience of the city of Guangzhou which, as a manufacturing center of the world, has an important impact on the balance between the Earth and the industrial world.
Our installation hence acted as a meditative dialogue between Audi A.G. and its Chinese clientele, provoking a reflection on the balance between industrial development and the environment, as well as the role we play as individuals in this fine symbiosis.