Concept

The Beijing National Aquatics Center (the Water Cube), inaugurated during the 2008 Olympics, is renown for its unique architecture. New York and Beijing based artist Jennifer Wen Ma and lighting designer Zheng Jianwei have been awarded the permanent public art commission to reimagine and activate the cellular “skin” of the iconic building. Nature and Man in Rhapsody of Light at the Water Cube is the culmination of their collaboration, melding contemporary technology and data with ancient Chinese teachings from the I Ching. Opening on June 23, 2013, the visually stunning and ever-evolving light and color installation interprets the collective current state of mind of the nation and reflects its traditional world views.

The façade of the Water Cube will be illuminated through a fluid LED light display that changes daily in accordance with the mood of Chinese citizens as expressed through social media. State-of-the-art computer programs interpret the content of ancient Chinese teachings from the I Ching as well as emotional data collected from Chinese micro-blogging websites, such as Weibo. The analysis of the emotions expressed in the blogs will create a unique picture of the day that will be communicated through contemporary color theory, light, composition, rhythm and movement on the building. Separate but inseparable as part of a larger entity, the artwork represents a symbolic balance of individuality, creativity and social responsibility of Chinese citizens.

Commissioned by the Beijing National Aquatics Center co., LTD and executed by Trend of Landmarks (Beijing) Culture Communication co., LTD., the creation of Nature and Man in Rhapsody of Light at the Water Cube is an ambitious international collaboration including the artist, the lighting designer, a color specialist, an I Ching master, and a team of creative technology and programming experts.