Photo Etching, Calligraphy


In traditional Chinese philosophy and cosmology, a system of five elements, called "Wu Xing" (五行), is used to explain a variety of phenomena in the natural world. The five elements are: metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. Although often compared to the concept of four elements in the western world, the idea of Wu Xing focuses more on the movements, interactions, and transitions between these five energies or phases. The system is traditionally used in many different fields, such as astrology, medicine, military, music, or Feng Shui. 

This series of prints seek to use geometric and minimalist line patterns to represent each element, Combined with the plate tone produced from etching, the line patterns create illusion of movements, which reflects the fundamental idea of the system Wu Xing. The two-character phrases found in each composition are taken from Shang Shu (《尚书》), ancient Chinese literature, where each phrase describes the nature and the function of the element. They loosely translate to: the water smooths and descends, the fire blazes and ascends, the wood can be bent or straightened, the metal can be remolded or hardened, and the earth permits sowing and reaping ("水曰润下,火曰炎上,木曰曲直,金曰从革,土爰稼穡")。The characters are written in the seal script style, and their positions correspond to the cardinal directions that each element represent.

Each plate is sized 5"x5", and includes 125 of lines. Edition of 5.