When thinking of Digital Art, you might imagine it as something artificial or unnatural, but this isn’t always the case. For Carla Chan, Digital Art can be organic and elemental. Depicting the movement of water and air as pixelation and containing passing clouds in glass boxes, Chan shows us that nature and New Media are not as polarised as we think.

Angel Leung  |  Ed Juliet Rennie | 3 April 2021

Carla Chan, Black Moves (2015), Full-dome Video, 8:45 minute loop. Project developed at EMDL.eu residency @Carla Chan Courtesy of the artist

Nature is one of your major inspirations. Why are you particularly interested in it? What is your creative process when developing this idea into Digital Art?

I’m an artist raised in Hong Kong, a very fast-driven cosmopolitan city, a thriving cultural, international hub. Growing up there made me have a different experience with nature and how I encounter nature, in comparison to the European way, I’d say. I believe the contact with nature and being surrounded by nature is a very present kind of moment for me, and it is a core inspiration for many artists. 

I’m interested in a constant search for new ways of expression, and therefore I am fascinated by new technologies giving infinite possibilities of expression. I do like new up-and-coming, edgy technologies, and I try to use them in a nonconventional way as one of my main focuses.

Carla Chan, The Ashes of Snow (2017), Real-time Snowing Installation. 4m x 8m. @Carla Chan Courtesy of the artist

While often working with digital media, some of your works are also inspired by Chinese traditional art, such as ink wash. You also use more traditional media such as pigments, carbon powders and paper in some of your works. Why do you incorporate this in your works?

I’m always very interested in Chinese philology and, in my practice, the concept of “blank” [an artistic conception in traditional Chinese paintings where details are left out intentionally to stimulate the viewers’ imagination]. I think in my work I would like to create such an imaginative space. I just work with it very naturally.

Carla Chan, A Blacker Cloud (2018). Real-time Smoke Installation. @Carla Chan Courtesy of the artist 

To you, what is the difference between traditional and New Media art?

For me, I think New Media art is more like approaching and trying to create what does not exist yet. It moves towards the unknown and surprise. I think it is about searching for an unknown way to express. It is experimental, unpredictable and yet exciting.  As for traditional art, I think it reflects more core value and reference for history.

Carla Chan, When we are disappearing in digital (2018), AR Installation. Commissioned by Asia Society Hong Kong Center. Dimensions Variable, 10m x 4m. @Carla Chan Courtesy of the artist

You’ve been working in Digital Art for 10 years already. Among your artworks, are there themes particularly significant to you? Why?

I believe that time is an essential element in my work as it allows people to experience change. By manipulating the change within the notion of time, it can build emotions, and also different stages of emotions. The work is related to the moment when the light changes. To me, it’s a very interesting moment, it is leaving a lot of room for imagination. As the light casts a shadow, it adds a different dimension and an illusion of scale within the space.

About the artist

Carla Chan (b. 1989) is a multi-disciplinary artist who lives and works in Berlin and Hong Kong. Graduating from the School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong, she works with a variety of media including video, installation, photography and interactive Media. Minimal in style and form, Chan toys with the blurred boundaries between reality and illusion, figure and abstraction. Her recent work focuses on the ambiguity in nature, bridging natural transformation and unpredictable computer algorithms.

Past Shows and Fair booths

Solo Shows

2020, To the end for the beginning, the heaviness of my heart, Goethe-Institut, Hong Kong 

2019, Faded Black, Singapore Art week – Arndt Art Agency, Straits Clan, Singapore

2018, To Another side of the Moon, Lobe Block, Berlin

2018, Breathing the Unpredictable, Goethe-Institut, Hong Kong

2017, Unseen Land, FAK – Förderverein Aktuelle Kunst Münster e.V, Munich

Group Shows

2020, Art Machines, The Indra and Harry Banga Gallery, Hong Kong

2020, Living with the Arts, KedeWe, Berlin

2020, Hotmess, Prince Charles, Berlin, Germany

2019, Artificial Landscape, SOGO Causeway Bay 8k outdoor screen, Hong Kong

2019, Silver Award (Interactive Media) – The 24th ifva Incubator for Film and Visual Media in Asia, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong

Fair Booths

2019, Ink+ – Fine Art Asia and Ink Asia, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Hong Kong

2019, Taipei Dangdai Art fair (Galerie Ora-Ora), Taipei Nanggang Exhibition Center, Taipei, Taiwan

2018, 14th Athens Digital Arts Festival, Megaron – Athens Concert Hall, Athens

2017, Kinetical Patterns Berlin Art Week, Galerie Gerken, Berlin

2017, Code Art Fair (Sexauer Gallery), Bella Center, Copenhagen

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