Art

Cheng Ran’s “Circadian Rhythm”

Janelle Zara

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Cheng Ran.

In nature, the circadian rhythm is what syncs our biological functions with the cyclical passage of time. Cheng Ran’s new short film of the same name pulses to a hypnotic beat, syncing lush scenes from the natural world with man-made modes of telling time.

“Circadian Rhythm” was presented at Art Basel Hong Kong last week, a commission by Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet to the young Chinese multimedia artist. Given carte blanche, Ran went with his intuition. “It was a feeling thing,” he told Cultured in the Audemars Piguet VIP lounge, sporting a silk bomber jacket and freshly blond hair. “Nothing was really planned.”

He naturally gravitated to the watchmaker’s surrounding Vallée de Joux in the Jura Mountains, where scenes from the landscape—flowing water, dense moss, and expanses of forest—became the focal point of his work, both audio and visual. Sampling the ambient sounds of nature and pairing them with the unfailing metronome of a ticking watch, he scored the short film with a bouncing cadence that results in visual poetry.