Video: Robotic Confucius in Steel Cage Aims to Provoke Debate on Chinese Society

The video above shows a robotic Confucius that lies motionless before jolting up and down in a 12-meter-tall steel cage at the Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai. These automated mechanical movements repeat, and the Confucius figure behaves almost like a life-sized (and possessed) Weeble toy. On the exhibit's opening day, nine live monkeys joined Confucius in the cage, which according to the gallery, served as a metaphor for the primitive desire in human civilization.

The installation, "Confucius No. 6," is part of controversial Chinese-born and internationally-based artist Zhang Huan’s exhibition called Q-Confucius, which, according to the artist, was designed as an analogy for Confucius’ life and teachings. Zhang’s stated aim was to provoke public debate about societal issues in China, including rapid economic growth, unbalanced values, and environmental challenges.

Zhang Huan had an Asia Society Museum solo exhibition, Altered States: Art of Zhang Huan, in 2007.

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Q Confucius is on display at the Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai through January 29, 2012, and also includes a towering, life-like "breathing" bust of Confucius in a pool of water. Video by Dan Washburn and production by Shreeya Sinha and Morlene Chin.