This spring, renowned multimedia artist, LuYang, presents a free, immersive exhibition at FACT Liverpool. LuYang Arcade Liverpool transforms the gallery into a retro-futuristic arcade, complete with vibrant graphics and interactive gaming consoles. Displaying a collection of LuYang’s previous works, including both video and gaming installations, the showcase centres around the ambitious Material World Knight (2018 – 2020) project. LuYang Arcade Liverpool is the Tokyo-based artist’s first UK solo exhibition outside of the capital.
Combining animation, live-action cos-play, video games, and specially composed techno soundtracks, LuYang’s multimedia installations explore themes of neuroscience, popular culture, spirituality and technology. Drawing influence from Japanese anime and kawaii aesthetics, LuYang’s striking visuals transport visitors to the gaming arcades of their childhood. Entertaining and thought-provoking, dark and fantastical, their digital spaces stretch our understanding of human consciousness, and question how a physical life is different to a digital existence.
The exhibition’s centerpiece, the Material World Knight project, follows a superhero on a quest to challenge oppressive binary concepts and achieve transcendence. Visitors can experience all three works from the series, including Material World Knight (2018) – a three-channel video presenting the character’s origin story; The Great Adventure of Material World – Game Film (2020); and the playable video game The Great Adventure of Material World (2020). The later installments of the project depict the Knight’s journey through various realms, as they seek to understand the self by deepening their understanding of fundamental Buddhist teachings. Visitors are invited to play as the Knight and explore LuYang’s universe in an interactive version of the work. Progressing from one level to another, players encounter deities and monsters, experience destruction and rebirth, and contemplate philosophical questions, queries, and paradoxes.
The game brings together several of the artist’s creations, as characters from previous works appear, highlighting the seriality and world-building that are key components in LuYang’s practice. Across different levels, players interact with UterusMan, Omomoko Sunrise from the Japanese Band Ja Naimon!, gods of the elements Fire, Water, Earth and Air, and an asexual digital avatar designed with the artist’s own face. LuYang often uses their own body as an avatar, employing advanced motion capture techniques to put themselves at the centre of these game worlds. Through this, they explore ideas of self-expression and control outside the remit of a human mind and body.
In addition to the Material World Knight project, LuYang Arcade Liverpool showcases connected works from the artist’s digital universe, including UterusMan (2014), Cancer Baby (2014), Electromagnetic Brainology Brain Control Messenger (2018), LuYang Dance Dance Revolution (2018), LuYang Delusional Hell (2021) and LuYang Delusional World x Delusional Hell (2021). Multiple works are playable on consoles within the arcade space and are housed in retro game machines, including motorcycle simulators, Space Invader joy-con towers, and dance mat stations. The installation reflects LuYang’s signature playful style, and invites visitors to experiment with ideas of gender, voyeurism and online cultures by interacting with the artist’s creations. Challenging conventional categories and labels, the work embodies the artist’s aspirations to transcend nationality, linear time, and the prevailing binary understanding of human existence.
LuYang’s solo exhibition will be launched at the end of April 2023, which will coincide with Liverpool’s Eurovision celebrations. The free exhibition will be accompanied by a public programme of events including screenings, curator tours and family workshops.