Light and Interactivity · Subtraction

[final proposal] Sea and Mulberry fields



(The Sea and mulberry Field)

沧海桑田 : The Sea and Mulberry fields , literally means the sea changes into mulberry fields. This idiom is used by Chinese speakers to describe the inexorable change in world events.

It comes from an ancient Chinese legend (written by Ge Hong during the Jin Dynasty) about an immortal called Wang Fangping, she looked like a girl in her late teens however she has been living for hundreds of thousands of years, during a gathering of the gods and goddess, she said she had seen the vast East Sea turn into a huge mulberry field and then back into the sea again. What’s more she had seen this happen on three occasions. She then went on to say:

During my last inspection, I found the sea had become shallow again. I suspect it will soon turn into a field again. And I’m sure that such changes will go on forever and a day.

This story has a some interesing implications on the way we as human being interact with the nature, we always assume ourselves as the “king of the world”, and other creatures are less important than our. However, human’s life span is reansient compare to the machinations of the universe.

It is very similar to the wisdom of Laozi’s (老子, as I made the time lapse video for , it reminded me of words in Dao De Jing.(道德经)


“The nature is unbiased, seeing everything as straw dogs.”

As I wrote in that blog.

There is something really poetic about time-lapse video, to see the still things like buildings, tables, books, and to see light, people and birds come and go. The light, not just the natural light like sun, but also the indoors light, tells us when to wake up, when to go out, when to start our days, we as people change, we will always learn more, do more, grew old, eventually die, however no matter how many years later, the sun still also rises, as long as there is human, they will always find a way to use and control the light.

In Dao Te Ching (道德经), Lao Zi wrote “天地不仁,以万物为刍狗”,“Nature is unbiased, seeing everything as a straw dog.” Lao Zi wrote that 2500 years ago, I tried to picture my country during 2500 years, how dynasty changes , how many books written, how many wars happened, how many family, lovers say goodbye, how many loves poems told, how many children learned how to read and later teach their children how to read, how many dreams killed, how many people die for nothing. Not to mention worldwide, China itself, 2500 years, we had countless dynasty and emperors, our map expanded to Hungary during Yuan dynasty, then we were taken by Mongolian, Manju… many years later European, Japanese. Then we had the new country that we call people’s republic, we had Mao, Deng etc, we had great famine where hundreds of thousands of people die, we had Cultural Revolution against everything reasonable, we had young students protest, they used to be young. Years later, I was born. I went to school, my beloved grandmother passed away, we had Olympic, I am in New York.

But as I read Dao Te Ching, I tried to think what Lao Zi said, “Nature is unbiased, seeing everything as a straw dog.”, I looked at the Sun above, the sun Lao Zi saw 2500 years ago may not be so much different from the one that is above me.

As I am writing now, I felt grateful to light, and even more grateful to seeing the light.

“The nature is unbiased, seeing everything as straw dogs.” What I like about this is the way Laozi said it, the moment the second when he said this, when he had this thought, he doesn’t include himself as “everything”, he is between “everything” and “nature”.

I have always been fascinated about combining cultural thinking with the design and physical installations, that is where my idea starts.


The word is so commonly seen in Chinese written language or modern poems, lyris etc, that I often ignore how deep, even cruel it may sounds. In love poems, we say “I’d watch sea change into mulberry field with you”. It reminds me of my previous project Moutain Far, it is a visually pleasent project, my first idea of using the circle shape is to resemble the shape of silhouette and moon, when I talk this project to other, someone also remind me that this looks like a window, and this interaction is like peeking through a window and see the moutains outside.

Why not to display my idea using a window to look out, and what you see is sun rise and fall, and sea change into mulberry field.

For the changing part I’d love to use motors and LED pixels. When the shape of the mountains rotate they be would turning into something else.

I’d also love to try rapsberry PI to minize the project.

Some inspirations:



I started to build 3D models to remind myself of the structure, now they are not settled, need to talk with Ben.



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