An Art Exhibition Designed to Make Us Put Down Our Phones


Photo: Courtesy of the Peninsula Hotel

Sitting on the smooth bamboo floors of “The Wonder Room,” an interpretation of a Chinese teahouse-cum–sound bath created by the architecture collective MINAX, I was faced with one of the great choices of our time: to selfie or not to selfie.

The urge to document my surroundings was strong, almost compulsive. The contrast of the minimalist structure, tucked in the gilded lobby of the Hong Kong Peninsula Hotel was perfectly Instagramable, but I knew that there was no way for the platform to convey its most striking quality: the smell. The room’s cedar walls curved around me to create an egg shape, but their intoxicating fragrance was by far the works most transportive element. I laid down on the floor as the sound bath began, and let the scent and the steady meditative percussion of a gong master wash over me with the promise of mind-body equanimity. After ten minutes of calm, I opened my eyes and was face-to-face with a bulbous, fishbowl mirror warping and shifting my reflection on the wall of the teahouse. The urge to selfie returned.

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