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The Artificial Garden Rock #71

In this continuation of our serial, we examine how art promotes community, encourage art appreciation, and remind people of their common shared experiences. These purposes are not core to the business of operating the MTR train system in Hong Kong, but the art on the Island Line do provide intrinsic value to the passenger experience.

Traditional Chinese gardens are miniature representations of the natural order of creation. They provide peaceful, pleasant areas of tranquillity and places for ceremonies, holding court, hosting banquets, pursuing studies, producing theatrical activities, and worship. Their designs are strongly affected by ancient traditions like Feng Shui and Daoist principles like Yin and Yang. 

Rocks are an essential feature in a Chinese garden. Rocks represent mountains and symbolize the mystical and inaccessible mountain paradise realms of the immortals in Daoist cosmology. Because rocks and water are the two most important of the five elements of Daoism, the best rocks for Chinese gardens are limestone that shows visible signs of water erosion. 

Zhan Wang’s art is created by moulding traditional Chinese garden rocks using stainless steel. The result is a modernization of a traditional artistic element that when polished reflects the constantly changing environment. By positioning them floating over the escalator, Wang further emphasizes their symbolic representation as a mystical mountain paradise. In this way, he has managed to modernize the traditional Chinese garden without losing any of the spiritual purposes of the rocks that inspired it. As intended, his artwork inspires the viewers to meditate on the natural order of creation.