Throughout its longstanding heritage, Vacheron Constantin’s never-ending quest for excellence, innovation, and artistry has initiated many artistic and cultural partnerships with visionaries and devotees around the world who share the same passion and values in their commitment to art and culture.
This year, in keeping with this stance, the Maison is partnering with acclaimed new media and audiovisual artist, h0nh1m (born Chris Cheung Hon Him), for a series of trans-disciplinary art installations in the city of Hong Kong titled “TimeFlux”. The first of these installations, “TimeFlux∞”, was unveiled exclusively at the Maison’s High Watchmaking Event early September, and the second, “TimeFlux9”, will be showcasing at Vacheron Constantin’s Ocean Terminal flagship till mid November 2022.
Hong Kong-based new media and audiovisual artist h0nh1m/Chris Cheung Hon Him is well-known for blending traditional ideology with futuristic imagination, and his artistic expressions are conceived through electronics, sound, images, and creative technology in new media. His methods synergise with Vacheron Constantin’s own high watchmaking philosophy of pushing the boundaries of innovation and creativity whilst staying true to one of the oldest artisanal crafts in the world. h0nh1m’s works have been recognized the world over, exhibited globally and winning awards – most recently at the Hong Kong Palace Museum in 2022, at the Asia Digital Art Awards in Fukuoka, Japan, in 2021, and at the Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Giga Hertz Awards in Karlsruhe, Germany, in 2020, amongst others.
The Timelessness in Time’s Dynamic Lifeform
Entitled “TimeFlux”, h0nh1m’s series of trans-disciplinary art installations for Vacheron Constantin is inspired by the infinite complexity and dimension that the perfect combination of science and art behind the Maison’s high watchmaking complications perpetuate and recurse.
“TimeFlux” will explore the infinite extremity of the fluxes of time in the artistic expression of ferrofluid, a colloidal liquid made of nanoscale ferromagnetic particles. h0nh1m will apply these particles in his work as the quantum, “the molecules of time” as he puts it, which will be activated in the time module glass container by a collective kinetic force of magnetic movements.
“In the realm of physical boundaries, time is relative. My interpretation of time is both dynamic and static. I wish that through this art installation, the audience can take a moment to pause and reflect, to immerse and feel an alternative completeness of time in timelessness.” h0nh1m explains.
Luoshu Square and Fractal Geometry
h0nh1m’s reverence for Eastern and Western philosophy is central to his practice with technological intervention. His kinetic window installation, “TimeFlux9”, first episode of his “TimeFlux” series for Vacheron Constantin, is based and inspired by his admiration for “Luoshu Square” from the ancient Chinese cosmological diagram “Hetu” (The Inscriptions of the River Luo) and by the fractal geometry explained in the book “The Fractal Geometry of Nature” by Polish-born French-American mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot.
In ancient China, the Luoshu Square became an important model for time and space, serving as a basis for city planning, temple design, and to designating spaces of political and religious importance. h0nh1m uses this Nine Hall Diagram as inspiration to depict time fluxes in 9 separate time modules made of glass, each moving recursively in relation to one another infinitely with the help of black ferrofluid, in reminiscence of the Chinese calligraphy aesthetics.
“‘Hetu’ (TheYellow River Map) and ‘Luoshu’ (The Inscriptions of the River Luo) were part of the legacy of ancient Chinese mathematical and divinity traditions of the likes of ‘I-Ching’ (Book of Changes). The cosmological diagrams were used to explain the profound principles of cosmic astrology and they are believed to be an important model for time and space in Chinese culture. What’s more, 9 is also a number of completeness, longevity and eternality in Chinese numerology.” h0nh1m adds.
The artist automates the poetic fluidity of “time” in each of the “time modules” with an X-Y axis perpetual pendulum algorithm which he created with a robotic arm and a special programming computation that he designed in his studio. The black ferrofluids thus run on a fractal track, on top of the gold fractal geometry “time snapshot” background. “Fractal” is a type of mathematical shape that is infinitely complex and never-ending. They are created by repeating a simple process over and over in an ongoing feedback loop, giving the installation a mesmerizing visual appeal. This captivating moment becomes the static timelessness that is the counter to the dynamism and unstoppable nature of time that is h0nh1m’s brilliant creation.
According to h0nh1m, “A fractal is a pattern that repeats forever, and every part of the fractal, regardless of how zoomed in, or zoomed out it is, it looks very similar to the whole image. It can be found in so many different aspects of life, like in nature, in science, and in art. The fractal mathematics Mandelbrot that pioneered has indeed inspired many scientists and artists of different disciplines.”
h0nh1m is deeply inspired by Vacheron Constantin’s High Watchmaking heritage and virtuoso in high complications. “Time to me is fractal, which is infinite in an expanding structure which gets to become more detailed at a close glance, and yet it also contributes to the beauty and complexity of the overall structure. What fascinates me in Haute Horlogerie is the infinite complexity and dimension that the perfect combination of science and art behind high watchmaking complications perpetuate and recurse.”
Vacheron Constantin’s artistic collaboration like this time with creative artist h0nh1m allows a vibrant exchange of thoughts and inspiration that continues driving the extremely skilled craft of high watchmaking that the Swiss Manufacture is known for. Whilst the technology of this centuries-old craft is presented within the mere inches around the wrist, the imagination that pushes the art forward knows no boundaries. To this day, it is deeply rooted in Vacheron Constantin’s DNA to champion artistry, agility, and human interaction – and this artistic collaboration with h0nh1m is one of them.