Leelee Chan creates sculptures that reflect her experience with the extreme urbanisation in Hong Kong. They are almost always comprised of dumpster detritus, household ephemera, and mundane objects from her daily life not generally considered memorable or worth preserving. Chan’s process-based approach embraces unexpected forms that generate a new living entity driven by their own internal logic — poetic, idiosyncratic, and universally intimate.
Her work was exhibited internationally including Tai Kwun Contemporary (Hong Kong), Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art Dunes (Beidaihe, China), Capsule Shanghai Gallery (Shanghai, China), Downs & Ross (New York, USA), Artemis Project Space (York, UK), Flux Factory (New York, USA), Parallel Art Space (New York, USA), Sol Koffler Gallery (Providence, USA). Her recent work was covered by Frieze, Art Forum, Mousse Magazine, Art Asia Pacific, South China Morning Post and included in the M+ Museum collection in Hong Kong.
Chan currently lives and works in Hong Kong.
2019 / 2019
Receptor is inspired by the camouflaging capabilities of the peppered-moth caterpillars. The peppered moth is a textbook example of Darwinian evolution through adaptation and natural selection. During the industrial revolution in the 1800s, light-colored moths evolved into a darker color after the trees in their habitat were darkened by soot. Now, due to rapid human changes to the environment, caterpillars could adapt even before they metamorphose into moths. Strikingly, they can mimic the colour of the branches they inhabit even when “blindfolded”, ie without using their eyes. Having evolved a mechanism to gain visual information about their surroundings, caterpillars can “see” with their skin and alter their colors accordingly. Their skin becomes at once a site of perception and transformation for tactile and visual data.
Receptor embodies Chan’s continuing exploration on the condition of co-existence between nature and human inhabitants in post-industrial urban environment. In a fantastic hybridity of industrial materials, she imagined that twigs and branches become metal columns reminiscent of the dense skyscrapers of Hong Kong, and the caterpillars morph into multiple-directional rollers (“Omni- wheel”). Like the caterpillar’s variegated ways of ‘seeing’ and changing color, these Omni-wheels evolved from a long lineage of wheels, dating back to the stone age, to move in all directions in smooth-rolling motions. Omni-wheels have since been widely adapted in robotics, manufacturing and logistics to improve productivity and efficiency.
Viewers are encouraged to touch the caterpillar-omni-wheels and take part in this multi-directional evolution.
Hourglass / 2019