In this post, we will discuss the Flying Kiss China Statue and Why it is considered one of the ugliest statue.
What are the Flying Kiss Theme Park in China?
Two “statues” 雕像 (diāoxiàng) resembling human figures on Mount Baima in Wulong District, Chongqing, have become popular on short video platforms like Tiktok.
In the videos, there are two brightly colored giant sculptures, one male and one female, rising from the ground and kissing in mid-air. They hold up two flying islands in their hands, and visitors on the islands also meet in the air.
The video received mixed reactions from netizens. Some people find it cute and expressed a desire to experience it in person, while others criticized the sculptures as being excessively peculiar, saying they are 丑出天际 (chǒu chūtiānjì) “ugly beyond imagination.” However, most people questioned the project itself, wondering why such a bizarre modern structure was built in the deep mountains.
What does the designer of the statue say?
Yang Kai, the head of the design team responsible for “Flying Kiss China,” stated that the completed 模型 (móxíng) model of the project does not align with the original design concept. He further mentioned that the disconnect between design and construction remains a challenging issue in the current design industry.
Why has “Flying Kiss China” been so controversial?
“Flying Kiss China” officially opened in 2020, but it had already gained attention on the internet before its official opening. This project is located in the core scenic area of Baima Mountain Tianchi Love Scenic Spot in Wulong District, Chongqing. It stands over 50 meters tall and is built on a cliff over 1,000 meters high. It is the world’s only interactive flying island where visitors can overlook the scenery of Baima Mountain and Wu River from the air.
The main design of the project is inspired by a local legend in Wulong, the love story of the White Horse Fairy and the Tea Fairy. According to the legend, these two figures were transformed into two fairy mountains, the White Horse and the Fairy, due to angering the Queen Mother, and they were separated by the Wu River, unable to reunite.
The story itself sounds poignant, but the final presentation of the project fails to capture the essence of the mythical legend. Instead, it has been criticized for being somewhat 煞风景 (shà fēngjǐng) “off-putting” and “a bit kitschy.”
The partially exposed White Horse Fairy, the stiff and unnatural poses, and the overly vibrant colors have led some internet users to comment, saying, “This is truly a tall and gaudy artificial attraction. The expressions of the fairies and the prince are 望而生畏 (wàng’érshēngwèi) terrifying. It’s a stark contrast to the natural scenery!” and “Another member joins the army of tacky tourist attractions in China.”
However, there are also internet users who express a strong desire to experience it, finding it exhilarating and even pleading for travel tips.
Nevertheless, most netizens criticize the project for its “rigid design” and jokingly refer to it as a 迷惑行为 (míhuò xíngwéi) “bewildering act.” They feel that while the concept of experiencing a kilometer-high cliff and aerial tours is promising, the execution of the exterior design falls short.
- 煞风景 (shà fēngjǐng): “off-putting” or “spoils the scenery” (idiom)
- 迷惑行为 (míhuò xíngwéi): “bewildering act” or “confusing behavior”
- 望而生畏 (wàng’érshēngwèi): “terrifying” or “awe-inspiring” (idiom)
Discrepancies between the 落地 (luòdì) actual outcome and the original design
Regarding the controversies on the internet, Yang Kai, the head of the design team for “Flying Kiss China,” stated that the completed project differs from the original design concept. “The changes and adjustments that occurred during the construction phase were 预见 (yùjiàn) unforeseen by us.”
Yang Kai provided the original design drafts to the reporters. By examining the provided original design drafts, it can be observed that the main differences lie in the presentation of the pedestal and costumes. The actual implementation focuses on solid color sculpture, while the design drafts feature gradient hollow patterns with decorative perforations, which significantly reduce the visual sense of volume.
“The material effects and other aspects differ significantly from the original design, particularly in terms of stylistic contrast. The current sculptures emphasize realism, whereas the design drafts lean more towards a semi-abstract style that aligns with modern aesthetics,” expressed Yang Kai.
Furthermore, the design of “Flying Kiss China” consumed a substantial amount of time and effort. It involved five project teams, over twenty sets of design proposals, and took five years to ultimately create “Flying Kiss China.”
- 落地 (luòdì): completed or actual outcome
- 预见 (yùjiàn): foresee or anticipate
Regarding the current outcome, Yang Kai stated that any designer would view their work like a child and certainly wouldn’t want it to be distorted. As the core creative team, they are undoubtedly deeply concerned about it.
“However, we also need to face reality. The visual presentation is just a part of this project. We should focus more on its essential value, which is the creative tourism experience. At least in terms of the experiential effect, it should provide visitors with a unique sense of excitement.”
Yang Kai emphasized the importance of focusing on the experiential effect and urged visitors to do the same.
However, for tourists, the image of a tourism project is also crucial besides the experiential aspect. If the sole purpose is the experiential aspect, is it necessary to spend five years designing such a project?
Furthermore, in Yang Kai’s view, the disconnect between design and construction is a challenging issue in the current design industry.
Typically, design is mainly presented through images and visuals. However, projects in the cultural tourism field cannot solely rely on these aspects; they also need to consider factors such as production craftsmanship and operational safety to determine the feasibility of the design.
The “Feitian’s Kiss” project is situated on the edge of the Wangxian Cliff, with a vertical drop of over 1,000 meters from the base to the Wu River. The two mechanical arms can rise up to 55 meters. To ensure the project’s safety, the construction team focused on optimizing structural aspects such as load-bearing capacity and wind resistance after finalizing the basic appearance. They also considered the climate and geological conditions of the site. As a result, the design of the “flying” motion was relatively restrained.
In fact, effective communication between 前端 (qiánduān) front-end design and 后端 (hòuduān) back-end construction is crucial to create an artistic masterpiece. “Flying Kiss China” may be a product of the lack of coordination between the two phases.
– 前端 (qiánduān): front-end (design)
– 后端 (hòuduān): back-end (construction)
Transient 昙花一现 (tánhuā yīxiàn) and Kitschy Tourist Attractions
In addition to “Flying Kiss China,” there have been countless “kitschy” tourist attractions that unexpectedly gained popularity in recent years.
There are Western-style buildings resembling half of the Pray Year Hall and half of the White House, the Oriental Giant Tortoise Garden built by a local farmer entrepreneur at a cost of 150 million yuan, and the towering colorful sculptures of “Fu, Lu, Shou” (Chinese deities representing fortune, prosperity, and longevity) along National Highway 102 in the Yanjiao Economic Development Zone. These structures, fueled by internet marketing hype, have ironically become major selling points due to their “quirky” and “kitschy” labels, attracting a large number of tourists for a certain period.
In reality, these so-called viral kitschy buildings are more of an online sensation than an offline reality. A typical example is the “Hebei Kitsch” series that went viral in 2019. According to the elderly person guarding the scenic area, “Usually, we see one or two waves of visitors every two or three days, mostly out-of-town tourists with their children. It’s quite empty.”
The knockoff 卢浮宫 (Lúfúgōng) “Louvre,” the infringing “Lion-faced Statue,” and the rudimentary clay sculpture “Palace” within the film and television city are devoid of any visitors except for the staff. The cheap tickets priced at 30 yuan can’t even attract the “just for the sake of visiting” mentality from netizens.
Previously, Shirin, a photographer known for capturing Hebei’s kitschy architecture, stated in an interview that kitsch is also a form of reality. “Many people think that these peculiar buildings in Hebei are ugly and kitschy, but they represent the current culture of Hebei.”
However, Li Yifu, a senior architect from the China Architecture Design and Research Institute, disagrees. He believes that most kitschy architecture is the result of a lack of cultural consideration. “Architectural design emphasizes functionality, compliance with the local human and geographic environment, and the promotion of originality. Only on this basis can we talk about architectural beauty.”
Despite the heavy skepticism, kitschy tourist attractions like “Flying Kiss China” indeed became popular. However, after the frenzy, they may just be transient phenomena.
– 昙花一现 (tánhuā yīxiàn): transient or short-lived phenomenon (idiom)
– 卢浮宫 (Lúfúgōng): Louvre (famous art museum in Paris)
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