Universal Metabolism 
Public sculpture
Laoyuhe Wetland Park, Yunnan
2024

This outdoor installation is commissioned by the Laoyuhe Wetland Park, Kunming, Yunnan.

The sculpture is conceived in response to the local ecosystem and the unique design of the park. Laoyuhe Wetland Park acts as a barrier between urban waterways and Lake Dianchi. The neatly arranged forest of Taxodium hybrid serve as water filtering living machines that created the scenic, artificial landscape.

Previously, massive outbreaks of algae blooms were thought to be the main cause of water pollution in Lake Dianchi. The cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, have been present on Earth for over 4 billion years, acting as the earliest photosynthetic oxygen producers and the ancestors of all modern life forms. Their metabolism has significantly altered the Earth's atmosphere, creating vital ecosystems for our survival. However, under certain conditions, such as high level of phosphorus in water due to human activities, these life-giving organisms can turn into toxins that endanger life. This sculpture draw inspiration from this paradoxical relationship. Referencing common blue-green algae species found in Lake Dianchi, the sculpture reconstructs their microscopic structures, bridging the digital and physical realms. It symbolizes the organic forms representing the origins of life, contrasting with its surrounding environment by human design. With its porous structure, the sculpture invites all lifeforms within the ecosystem, from the nesting waterfowl to the clinging aquatic plants.
© Shuyi Cao 2023