☰pa●○pa☴, Rae-Yen Song

14 Jul-1 Oct 2023
PV 14 Jul 2023, 6-8pm

Aspex Portsmouth
Portsmouth PO1 3BF


☰pa●○pa☴ is Rae-Yen Song’s first solo presentation of work in the south of England. It imagines a new character: a voyager from the multiverse that continues to grow through Song’s creative practice. The character is an incarnation of Song’s father, who has been instrumental in its formation. It draws on the visual language of role-play video gaming, and is imagined as a shape-shifting figure inspired by Taoist notions of continuous change. The character functions as part avatar, part deity.

The exhibition combines existing and new artworks, including a moving image work created in collaboration with Song’s father and the University of Portsmouth’s Centre for Creative and Immersive Extended Realities (CCIXR). Created using volumetric video and gaming technologies, it depicts the artist’s father performing a Tai Chi routine, wearing a costume and mask made by Song. These garments are multi-functional, serving as both robes and armour. They simultaneously imply performance and anonymity, exposure and refuge – and are exhibited here as sanctified relics. The moving image is presented as a view through a portal – a transportative opening, which we can see but through which we cannot pass.

These works are accompanied by a series of new drawings, influenced by ancient Buddhist manuscripts, illustrations from Dante’s Divine Comedy and Yokai Manga. The drawings reference 五行 (wǔxíng) – the five phases in Taoist philosophy, with its five elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. They are presented as five separate images – but could coalesce at any time to form a flowing circular whole, reminding us of the fundamental interconnectedness and fluidity of all things.

☰pa●○pa☴ is free to visit. Aspex Portsmouth is open Wednesday – Sunday, 11am-4pm.

This exhibition is supported by the Henry Moore Foundation.

Selected works


☰pa●○pa☴, Rae-Yen Song press release