Thesis Week 1: Dream Review

My dream review would be an article about my work in an exhibition, and publish in Artforum Magazine written by a critic.

“To be a proof of existence, even though it is just a shadow, even though it is transient.” This is a comment from a critic David Hans for Chang Liu’s interactive piece “See Yourself” series in B Gallery.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is a set of live installation. Those are applications created by Liu to digitally “paint” scenes from a nearby webcam. These six interactive video installations are hanging on the opposite walls separately. An attached camera of each one as an “eye” keeps reading and drawing the surrounding environment and passed-by audiences. Visitors to the space not only see the work in action, but also inevitably get caught by the webcam and participate in the creation of an ever-changing digital painting.

A couple who were standing in front of the installation for a while, when they saw their portraiture slowly appear and gradually disappear with a dripping effect, they even slightly wept. I look at this piece for a while, then my portraiture starts to appear on the screen. At one moment, I felt a little bit scary by seeing myself. The feeling is weird, I also felt isolated. After processing the experience for a while, I realized that this is probably a little piece of time for me to observe myself. During that time, I realized that the artist provided a context and leave a space and time for her audiences to look at themselves. I appreciate the a bit time of observing myself.
“See Yourself” constructs a dynamic atmosphere, compared with being in a normal museum. However, the protagonist is not existed anymore. The relationship between audience and artwork is changed by this work. Audiences become the major content of the work. If “See Yourself” simply took a photo and interpreted it with its unique brush strokes, the results would probably appear impressionistic, but “See Yourself” captures scenes over a period a few minutes, almost like a long-exposure photograph, and the results can quickly transition from impressionistic to seemingly highly abstract. “See Yourself” is more like a painter working in the air who constantly ties to adapt to a changing environment. It’s a futile gesture with a hint of the ridiculous, and the results are beautiful.

Liu’s practice is grounded equally in code, chance, interactivity, and painting, with an accessibility and poetic energy rarely seen in new media and digital art. Liu chooses digital art as her language to demonstrate this work. All the visual is generated from algorithm. Algorithms are basically just numbers and formulas. It’s translated to portraits which contributed by people and ever-changing scene. “See Yourself” strikes a delicate balance between order and chaos, cheerful and foreboding, process and aesthetics, the hand of the artist and the ghost in the machine. Find order from randomness, translating from number to color, bringing formula alive.

When I was about to leave the gallery, my trail was still left on the screen for a while even though I already walked away. The next person’s portraiture started to cover mine subtly. The textures on top of each other are contributed by the “passages” of time in a way. Their traces are blended, which can be a metaphor as the “texture of time”. “See Yourself” explores the space in between spaces: In between the natural and the digital worlds, on and off, complete logical control and apparent chaos… It’s a mystical space on the edge of discovery.