Alumni Duo, Alchemyverse, Amplifies the Universe’s Background Noise with their First Solo Exhibition

Carlos Barragán
July 31, 2023

Visual Arts alum Bicheng Liang ’21 and Sound Arts alum Yixuan Shao ’21, collectively known as Alchemyverse, are holding their first solo exhibition, Alchemyverse: Messa in Luce, at the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP). The exhibition, scheduled to run through November 17, 2023, promises an artistic exploration of light and change, mirroring the title's allegorical connotation.

According to the press release, “Alchemyverse: Messa in Luce amplifies the universe’s 'background noise' to promote an understanding of the Earth as an accumulation of particulate matter in a state of constant flux.” Inspired by the Atacama Desert, the driest place on Earth, the exhibition extrapolates from its arid environment to comment on the desert's barrenness, its transformation through time, and its silence, illuminating the universal amidst the particular.

Conceptually, Liang and Shao, who started working together when they met at the School of the Arts, create a universe of artistic elements that combine both sound and visual arts. This immersive experience oscillates between abstract expression and concrete revelation. The installation’s centerpiece is a cascade of hanging ceramic tiles produced from wild clay sourced, shaped, and pit-fired during a 2022 research trip.

Alchemyverse: Messa in Luce is curated by Jess Wilcox, an independent curator focusing on ecocritical, socially engaged and public art.

Alchemyverse was founded in 2020 in New York City by artists Bicheng Liang (b. 1994, China) and Yixuan Shao (b. 1996, China/United States). They combine their respective knowledge bases and skills in print-making and sound studies with intensive field research to form their collaborative practice. Focusing on the intersection of geologic time and contemporary human experience, Alchemyverse uses a tactile, multisensory approach to foster empathy in humans towards mineral systems in the landscape and beyond. Alchemyverse has presented work at museums and galleries across the United States including Asia Art Archive in America, Brooklyn; The Bishop Museum, Honolulu; The Catherine Fosnot Art Gallery and Center, New London; and Lenfest Center for the Arts, Columbia University, New York, among others, and the artists’ work has been featured internationally. Residencies include LMCC Governors Island, New York; Desert 23′ S, La Wayaka Current, Chile; AAA-A Zine Residency, New York; International Studio & Curatorial Program Ground Floor Residency, New York; and the Rabbit Island Residency, Lake Superior (Summer 2023).