“Modern life causes people to lose themselves more and more, but progress in genetic science makes people think they understand themselves better and better.”

Born 1977, Guo Er Luosi (Qian Gorlos) County, Jilin. Lives and works in Beijing

Mongolian robes are known for their brilliant colours and elaborate patterns, which often feature bird and animal motifs. Tong Dazhuang thinks it was seeing these rich brocades as a child that sparked his fascination with pattern and detail. Like the elements of a pattern, the mysteries of life reveal themselves only to careful scrutiny, he says. “The world and people’s inner lives are not something you can see clearly at first glance. From a distance, you can see only the overall patterns. Only when you get close do you see how complicated they really are and how many small details they contain.” Glimpsing the truth is thrilling and disturbing at the same time: “When you do see clearly, you feel a little tremor in your heart.” The artist intends his photoshopped patterns—made up of tiny photos of people, objects and cartoon characters—to prompt small-scale equivalents of that eureka moment.

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