I Touched the Voice of God



Titanium alloy, Braille,


This artwork is displayed in exhibition OutLook in Redtory Museum of Contemporary Art (RMCA)


The hubris of a human species that pursues transitory gain for the few at the expense of long term survival for all is highlighted in Shen’s installation I Touched the Voice of God (2012). This work’s absurd title embodies a paradox: a voice, being a sound, can never be touched. In this case, however, Shen sets about solving this putatively non-existent problem by making the “voice of God” tactile by translating into braille The Apocalypse from the Book of Revelations in the Bible, the characters of which are then punched onto metallic shards sourced from the first Chinese space rocket that looks like stelae or gravestones. In an accompanying video, a blind woman ‘reads’ these words out loud, her fingers tracing the braille letters across the skin of the stelae. Shenzhou, the name of the rocket from which these fragments were taken, translates as ‘God’s Ship’, a vessel that Shen has re-contrived here to convey God’s message of punishment and destruction to the world.


I Touched the Voice of God, therefore, presents a vision that exists outside any conventional notion of time in which fragments of the horrifying, all-obliterating Apocalypse are isolated within a desolate “moonscape” where, long ago it seems, a rocket crashed and only traces remain. “Human beings are like the blind when we face the universe”, Shen has explained, “we are filled by pride and madness in our fantasies of conquest, occupation and invasion. We attempt to control what we cannot understand. But the situation is far from good. Only when we recognise our blindness will we be able to ‚see “how our conceit and folly will be the cause of our demise.” In the paradigm shift between blindness and insight that Shen has created here, he could be referring to China today as well as to any other ‘successful’, powerful country.

(Excerpt from the exhibition preface of There is no problem, RMCA, by David Elliott, 2015)