CARLA CHAN ON ‘FADING SPACE OF DAWN’
To celebrate the launch of its Pure Gold Radiance Nocturnal Balm, La Prairie has once again collaborated with Hong Kong-based artist Carla Chan to reveal a striking augmented reality art installation called 'Fading Space of Dawn'. The piece was inspired by the early morning radiance of Lac Leman, one of Switzerland’s most beautiful lakes.
In 2021, Carla Chan collaborated with La Prairie to reinterpret golden hour in the Alps. This year, the multimedia artist has once again joined hands with Swiss prestige skincare house to capture the beauty of Lac Léman, La Prairie’s birthplace in Montreux. The collaboration unveils the next chapter of the Pure Gold Collection, under the theme ‘The Dawn of Radiance’. “This renewed collaboration is a natural evolution of a strong relationship built with La Prairie over the last year. We share many similarities through our visions, the arts and our connection to nature,” comments Chan as she ponders on the shared values, she has with the skincare house. “I had a wonderful experience during my first collaboration with La Prairie. I felt very privileged to do a residency at the Monte Rosa Hut and this second year was a chance to complete my journey. My immersion at the La Becque Art Residency, allowed me more to spend more time to focus on my work and push my creativity and artistic expression even further.” In some ways, Chan’s second collaboration with La Prairie continues the story of the first, albeit one that portrays a different Swiss landscape and moment in time. Chan’s first partnership with La Prairie, which was launched to coincide with the reveal of the Pure Gold Collection, resulted in two time-based installations: ‘Space Between the Light Glows’ and ‘Space Between the Light Fades’. The first captures warm glow of golden hour in the alps, while the second portrays the faint radiance of the sun right before it sets.
“Both my residencies with La Prairie took place in majestic places. The dramatic mountain in the Alps offered a great contrast to the stillness encountered near the lake”
“This collaboration is a continuation that focuses on a different moment of the day after the sun sets,” Chan explains. “My work for this second collaboration is a very natural extension. The Dawn of Radiance was particularly interesting as a theme because to me, the disappearance of the light imposes a stillness. It is a break from time constraints where you can imagine the fading nature into the dark. It is this imaginative nature that I tried to encapsulate in my new work with a very strong message about the unseen.” For her second artist immersion, Chan stayed at the Le Becque Art Residency which puts special emphasis on welcoming artists whose works explore natural themes, climate change, biodiversity and environmental preservation. Chan, whose recent works focus on the digital representation of nature, blends physical and digital elements to create a virtual space that allows its viewers to contemplate on nature and our impact on it. “Nature is a big inspiration for me as an artist,” she says. “My time at La Becque allowed me to further explore the possibilities of digital art to offer a new perspective about the relationship between man and nature and how it can be more sustainable. “It was wonderful to be back in Switzerland and be immersed in the beautiful shores of Montreux where the brand was born. La Becque is a very special place. The stillness and calmness that surrounds it gives a lot of space and time for contemplation. From the studio facing the majestic Lac Léman and Swiss mountains, to the workshop spaces and the library – everything is set up for maximum creativity.”
Reflecting on the differences of her first and second Swiss residencies, Chan says, “As nature follows a set of erratic rules, it never inspires me in the same way. Both my residencies with La Prairie took place in majestic places. The dramatic mountain in the Alps offered a great contrast to the stillness encountered near the lake. From snow to water, from light to darkness, the immersion was unpredictable and unprecedented. It was very interesting for me to connect the history, story and change of nature over time.” The result of Chan’s second, week-long immersion in La Becque is ‘Fading Space of Dawn’, a striking media art exhibition that embodies the magnitude of natural transformations. In the piece, Chan manipulated digital materials to craft an immersive virtual landscape that recreates dawn on Lac Léman. “Inspired by my experience in Switzerland, I created a large-scale video installation and augmented reality experience which defies the notion of time and space and offers a new perspective on nature,” Chan says. The theme for this new collaboration, The Dawn of Radiance, stems from a specific moment in time where light changes: from dusk to the piercing light of the dawn. Reflecting on how the light and landscapes of Montreux inspired her work, Chan says: “I witnessed some very special phenomenon where the light was continuously in transit radiating on the lake, minerals and stones. From day to night and night today, the cycle of light left me with a special intimacy towards nature at a very raw level.”
Chan's work seeks to reinterpret natural elements in the digital realm. For this collaboration, she explored the relationship between light and Swiss minerality, which is a core theme for her body of work. “I have always been fascinated by the different textures in nature,” Chan says. “Each is unique whilst still being repetitive and part of a greater ecosystem. Swiss minerality has been a regular source of inspiration in my work. I travelled to several locations to observe it and capturing its shape, energy, rawness was a great challenge for me. “As part of the process, I used stones to re-create its interaction with light and found a way to digitalise the encounter. Minerality, along with light, are factors that give life to the human experience and therefore, I wanted to give justice to those to central elements. “My work reflects on the magnitude of climate change, the grave deterioration of the natural world and the illusion of the remoteness of its impact on our everyday life,” she explains. “In response, my work offers an alternative digital space with sensory stimulations that signify the disappearance of the natural environments we as a species depend so much on.” Digital technologies have been changing the face of art in a pace unlike ever before. Augmented reality technology, NFTs, immersive virtual worlds and avatars are the result of this ongoing evolution, and while some artists may cling to traditional art forms, Chan is all about embracing the new virtual world. “New technologies spark infinite possibilities to how we consume or think about art. The pandemic has certainly been an accelerator for this, with digital art reaching a wider audience. AR, VR, NFTs- ultimately popularise digital as an art form.
“I believe it is an exciting art movement that will have ramifications on the boundaries between virtual and reality. This is something I express in my work with La Prairie.”
“It is important to allow diversity in art no matter the gender, race or background. As a female artist, I am glad that women are increasingly being represented and given a voice in an art world that remains male dominated today.”
THE PURSUIT OF TIMELESS BEAUTY
Commenting on the AR elements of her latest work with La Prairie, Chan says, “The AR installation represents an artificial weather effect, a twisted version of extreme weather that is echoed in the video installation as well. The work offers a digital gaze for the audience to fill and reflects on the ‘unnoticeable’ role we play in the climate change crisis. It challenges us to explore how we want to react towards climate change.” ‘Fading Space of Dawn’ is being showcased in Tai Kwun, one of Hong Kong’s most well-respected cultural arts centres. In addition to the augmented reality installation, Chan is also creating video installations to be showcased in the La Prairie House and the La Prairie Lounge at Art Basel Hong Kong, which expand on the story on the theme Dawn of Radiance. La Prairie and Chan’s ongoing collaboration stems from the Swiss prestige skincare house’s own commitments to promote diversity & inclusion in the art world. “It is important to allow diversity in art no matter the gender, race or background,” Chan says. “As a female artist, I am glad that women are increasingly being represented and given a voice in an art world that remains male dominated today.