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Critical Analysis

(1)The Characteristic of the Medium

​(2)The “Self-independent” Doppelganger of the Reality  - the Image

(3)The Trompe-l’œil of Space-time: Notes about Emmanuelle Lainé’s        Site-specific Installations

(4)The Itinerary of Eyes

(5)Imagining the Kinesthesia: The “multi-sensory transfer” 

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(1) The Characteristic of the Medium


“To what extent can the concept of treating the text as "the master" and the style as "servant girl" can explain the creation and appreciation of Chinese calligraphy?”

From Fu Shan's World: The Transformation of Chinese Calligraphy in the Seventeenth Century, Qianshen Bai, 2006

“For the « content » of a medium is like the juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind.”

From Understanding media: the extensions of man, Marshall McLuhan, 1964


Along with my practice by experimenting with different transaction modes of visualization, I have increasingly questioned why there is always saying“video” in the column of medium for moving image work, without mention which specific medium the content of the artwork is engaged. They can be displayed in the gallery, be accessed through a link on Youtube, be transferred via social media, and open on mobile phones, which seems like the actual technology of video is incidental, an efficient tool for delivering images, but not a medium per se.

I insist that the choice of medium, just like placing a work in a specific scene or designing strategies for representation or replication, needs to be valued as much as the content of the work, in the same time precisely match different needings of the content, so that work is complete enough.

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  (visual noise)















       display devices



                       artist's operation:

                       manipulating with the relationship between

                                              the medium and the message






                       landing on special space






        site-specific work

With doubts, I found affirmation of the importance of media in Marshall McLuhan’s theory. 


When accepting the transmitted message (content), people subconsciously ignore and

skip the shaping and control power of the transmission medium, and quickly focus on the content.

This fact, the content of the communication seems always blinds people to the nature of

the medium.[1]


Combining his other theory, the “content” of any medium is always another medium[2],

which means the relationship between content and medium is like a nesting relationship of

multiple media from top to bottom, I compare the visual art with

the art of calligraphy as the arrays above:

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                       visualized output/sign


     spoken language








                           appreciating different styles










                                different uses  



              different support (e.g.

        rice paper, fan, 

        tablet inscription, 

             bronze tripod

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When Fu Shan was fascinated by the study of variant characters, the written symbols in his handscrolls were often difficult to recognize, hindering reading, and The communication function of writing has been impaired by writing itself.[3] Fu Shan tried to question the correspondence between the text and the style, forcing the viewer to get rid of the "obsession" with the content, thereby focusing on the image-calligraphy art itself- in the work.


Marshall McLuhan's “The medium is the message” theory and Fu Shan's variant art practice, which enlarge my sense of selecting the medium. I want to get rid of the priority of the image-content- and to explore the plasticity of the medium to the content through a macroscopic point of view.  While I rebalance the status between the form(medium) and the content, I start to rethink the interconnection between the characteristics of the media and the content.



[1]McLuhan, Marshall (1964) Understanding media: the extensions of man. London: Routledge, 2001. Originally published: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1964.


[2]McLuhan, Marshall, Quentin Fiore (1967) The medium is the massage. Co-ordinated by Jerome Agel. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1967.


[3]Qianshen Bai (2006) Fu Shan's World: The Transformation of Chinese Calligraphy in the Seventeenth Century. First published: Harvard University Press, 2003. Translated and distributed: SDX Joint Publishing Company,2005

Reprinted: SDX Joint Publishing Company,2006

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(2)the “Self-independent” Doppelganger of the Reality  - the Image



My interest in the sculptural motions from every day and manipulating them by utilizing images led me to investigate René Magritte’s pictorial and linguistic systems of representations. 


René Magritte, the Belgian Surrealist painter, realigned the relationship between reality and representation through his pictorial representations and his verbal descriptions. In his work, The Interpretation of Dream(1930), some of the images, which are generated by the represented models, are juxtaposed with words that are point to other irrelevant objects. While the artist affirmed the expressive function of the image and text, the images on the canvas interwoven with the text and intervene with one another, which made me realize that the image became an independent existence remaining foreign and indifferent to real objects rather than than the symbolic representation of the real objects. Images in Magritte’s paintings rebelled against their sole function of representation and constructed new meanings.


Although, from how the images are displayed, German moving image artist, Hito Steyerl distinguishes the autonomy of the image from the eternal function of being attached to the expressed object that people take it for granted. In one of her essay titled Ripping Reality: Blind Spots and Wrecked Data in 3D, she boldly imagining that the liquid crystal substance-the carrier of the visualized information- in the LCD display screen instantly solidifies, which make people aware of the material properties of images per se: they no longer merely representing other things, but only themselves formed by oscillating electric wave energy and visual noises. From this moment, they clarify their “self-independence” and start presenting themselves.


[1] Gablik, Suzi (1970) Magritte. Greenwich, Conn., New York Graphic Society


[2]Hito Steyerl (2019) Ripping reality: Blind spots and wrecked data in 3D. From Duty-free art: art in the age of planetary civil war. London: Verso. Originally published: 2017.

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(3)The Trompe-l’œil of Space-time: Notes about Emmanuelle Lainé’s Site-specific Installations


French artist Emmanuelle Lainé often creates an immersive environment with a disarray of familiar objects, organic materials, and to-scale photographs, which mirrored these objects and doubled the exhibition space.


When entering in HENI Project Space of Hayward Gallery, where her site-specific installation Learn the Rules Like a Pro, So You Can Break Them Like an Artist! (2018) was showcased. I was surrounded by the hybridization of the high-resolution realistic flat images and the three-dimensional real object.


What especially interests me is how Lainé operated images to create the in-between dimension. Images which were applied as a texture onto the cube, surpass from the flatness to the fractional space. [1] They hover between dimensions instead of being completely extended to the three-dimensional worlds as where the found object was placed. The dimension created with the images were like the pointclouds generated by the 3D scan technology[2], which capture every surface from different sides and folded in the third dimension. People could splice an array of those surfaces to observe the whole scene from a specific viewpoint, then the integrate separated into fragments when people moved around in this juxtaposition between two- and three-dimension.


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I am also attracted to the seam of the time between now and then in Lainé’s work. For example, the moment when a little girl looking in through the glass door, which would always different from the one when people visit the exhibition, was congealed by one of Lainé’s images as time-frames. It seems like most parts of the moment are highly imitated while there are often faultages of space-time in her works, which made me reflect my interest in decontextualizing the daily realistic things/activities and bringing my palimpsest back into actual space-time setting.




[1] The term fractional space was mentioned in Ripping reality: Blind spots and wrecked data in 3D. From Duty-free art: art in the age of planetary civil war. (2019) by Hito Steyerl, based on Jalal Toufic’s words, which is a space that hovers between 2 and 3D, or between a surface and a volume. 


Jalal Toufic, The Subtle Dancer, p. 24: “a space that is neither two-dimensional nor three-dimensional, but between the two”,


[2]Hito Steyerl (2019) Ripping reality: Blind spots and wrecked data in 3D. From Duty-free art: art in the age of planetary civil war. London: Verso. Originally published: 2017.

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(4) The Itinerary of Eyes

My concern about how to arrange every part of works, and how they respond to each other led me to investigate the eye flow in David Hockney’s photographs and Sarah Sze’s installations.

British artist David Hockney began to produce photocollages, which he called "joiners," in the early 1980s. He attempted to overcome the weakness of traditional photography and create a picture with a greater feeding of space and time than any traditional photograph. He thought photography is a fraction of a second which lacks the time, while paintings and drawings could condense hours or even years. He builds up a picture by taking a series of individual photographs of the details, which he was looking at and ignores others, of the scene.


What interests me most is how this way of juxtaposition could give the audience several options(details) to look at: The audience’s eyes could “wander” in the image, pick out some triggering details, and then form their own itineraries of viewing to understand the whole scene. Rather than unfolding all the plots at a time, Hockney’s joiners assembled groups of fragments and drapes between different space-time.

Compared to the video, in which the main actor’s movement highly controls people’s eyes and this domination wouldn’t change a lot even if the video is replay several times. Hockney’s joiners give several potential ways than a fixed target to invite the audience to approach the work rather .


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Sarah Sze also has mentioned about people’s filmic way of seeing things in today’s digital age. Like experiencing her installation works, a delicate constellation of objects and projection images sweep across space, it’s unrealistic for people’s eyes to received every experience one by one, but in succession, in multiples, at random, her works put the viewer in the position of active discovery and let them get disoriented quickly.

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(5)Imagining the Kinesthesia: The “Multi-sensory Transfer”


"What a fine ear this poet has! And what mastery in directing the play of the dream devices known to us as seeing and hearing, the ultra-seeing and ultra-hearing, hearing oneself seeing…hearing ourselves listen."

From The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard 1958

Vivian Sobchack’s opinions in When the Ear Dreams: Dolby Digital and the Imagination of Sound [1] relates to my practice and

allows me to re-examine my practice about making kinetic image-objects and activating static images by body gestures. 


According to the author Vivian Sobchack of this article, Dolby digital sound technology reverses the image-sound relationship by rendering sonorous feelings as a visual effect, which therefore means “the objective ear subjectively imagines the image”. Audiences in movie theaters can use their hearing to draw pictures in their minds, and stereoscopic sound effects can even accurately describe the spatial distance.

If the famous silent movie The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat(1896) by the Dumière brothers objectively records the scene of the train arriving at the station, which caused a visual shock to the audience; Then the Dolby’s trailer Trains let the audience “hearing” the image of a huge steam train roared to the center of the screen in the cinema.

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My obsession with the synaesthetic experience evoked by images and created in the audience’s mind, especially the kinesthesia provoked by my image-based collage in three-dimensional space, drives me to read American academic W. J. T. Mitchell’s book titled ”What Do Pictures Want? The Lives and Loves of Images” during the development of my works. 


W. J. T. Mitchell analyzed the ingenious opposing of image and the human bodily need raised by a Sprite television commercial named “Moviemakers”.  Even though the image fails to gratify the desire that other senses could satisfy, the image could transcend to multi-sensory more than the single optical channel to induce human fantasy. 

When we see the image of Sprite appearing on the TV, we are not just watching the image, the overload image that appears in the advertisement for the purpose of stimulating consumption is accompanied by the trigger of the thirst, in Mitchell’s terms, we “drink” in the images with our eyes.  While the seductive image of the Spirit drink tantalizes the thirst of the audience, I think my practice relatively takes the audience in the imagery echos of kinesthesia.



[1]Vivian Sobchack (2005)When the ear dreams: Dolby digital and the imagination of sound. Film Quarterly, Vol. 58, Issue 4, pages 2-15

© 2005 by The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

[2]W.J.T. Mitchell (2005) What do pictures want? : the lives and loves of images. Chicago, Illinois; University of Chicago Press, 2005.

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