[ISEA2016] Artist Statement: SNOW YUNXUE FU — TUNNEL 通道

Artist Statement

Single-channel video projection, 2015, 14’12’’

“Tunnel” finds Edwin Abbott’s novel Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions as an inspiration. It is a story centered on a two-dimensional geometric figure. A square. A Mr. Square. Who is occupying a land of flatness, a land of only length and width. Through a series of encounters with a higher dimensional being, a three dimensional sphere, discovers a greater reality outside of his own limited perception. First he refuses to believe, but comes to understand, despite his limitation, the concept of a third dimension. After Mr. Square’s mind has been opened to a new third dimension, he dreamed of a visit to a one-dimensional world (Lineland), where he in turn was the higher being. Inhabited by single dimensional lines, He attempts to convince the realm’s monarch of a second dimension; but is unable to do so. Dejected, he travels about and meets a singular point. “Can you consider having length?” Mr. Square asked. “Length? What humorous thoughts I come up with,” the point responded.
The Sphere came and explained to Mr. Square, that he had arrived in Pointland, and that the points here do not acknowledge dimensions at all: “You see, how little your words have done. So far, as the point understands your words at all, he accepts them as his own – for he cannot conceive of any other except himself – and plumes himself upon the variety of Its own thought, as if it were an instance of his own creative power. Let us leave this god of Pointland to the ignorant fruition of his omnipresence and omniscience: Nothing that you or I can do can rescue him from his self-satisfaction.” Flatland is an allegory of an idealism. Through its examination of the view of multiple dimensions, it offers an insightful metaphor towards human being’s existential relationship to the larger cosmos. This is where Fu’s work invites and engages its viewers.
As in flatland, Fu’s virtually rendered work guides the viewer into a metaphorical higher dimensional world, where the artwork becomes a physical symbol for the viewer’s physical perception, in relation to the greater reality, and the installation, posing as a limitation to the viewers perception, is a port to that world. One is either detoured or offended by the limitation presented by the installation, or one accepts his or her limitation and humbly explores what can be seen.
“Tunnel” is also inspired from one particular experience Fu had going through a small mountainside tunnel on a trip to Arizona. “There were five windows carved out of one side of the rock tunnel, giving glimpses of an extraordinary expanse of the Arizona landscape, in an otherwise pitch-black tunnel. The guide explained that there are six windows, each increasing in size as you traveled. I counted as we went along. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Where was the sixth? As we came to the mouth of the tunnel, the guide said, this is the sixth window.” Fu took that as a metaphor of human understanding of the larger physical, spiritual, and metaphysical. In that, She is interested in the nature and significance of the reveal and expectation.
The following quote from Woody Vasulka’s Notes on Installation summarizes the characteristic of the digital space revealed in Fu’s Experimental 3-D animation and installation:
…digital space has no generic method for looking at the world the way that a camera does through its pinhole/lens apparatus. Digital space is constructed space, in which each component, aspect, concept, and surface must be defined mathematically. At the same time, the world inside a computer is but a model of reality as if seen through the eye of a synthetic camera, inseparable from the tradition of film. Yet, in this context, no viewpoint is ever discarded, the internal space is open to a continuous rearrangement and access to a selection of views and narrative vectors in infinite, not only to the author, but also, with the use of certain strategies, to the viewer. Once the author constructs and organize a digital space, the viewer can enter into a narrative relationship with it. A shot in film indicates a discrete viewpoint. Its narrative purpose is to eliminate other possible views. In contrast, the world in the computer contains the infinity of undivided space, undissected by the viewpoints of narrative progression. In the world of the machine, all sets of narrative vectors are offered in an equal no-hierarchical way. The machine is indifferent to the psychological conditioning of a viewpoint. All coordinates of space are always present and available to the principles of selected observation.”
Fu’s animations as a whole reference C. D. Friedrich’s painting, “Wonder Above Sea and Fog”, on the account of the emotional response of the contemplative figure encountering both the physical and metaphysical infinity, which is also a major concern in Chinese Traditional Landscape Painting. With a former painter’s sensibility, she approaches the subject of the sublime using topographical computer rendered abstraction set on a time line. The animation projected into space becomes a necessary physical metaphor for the discourse of human physical perception. This invites the viewer to physically and mentally enter into a liminal Gordon Matta Clark like interior within a digitally constructed space, where the viewer’s body is motivated to expand their perception but their physical ability to perceive all that is potentially visible is limited. The limitless virtual world entices and calls, but the physical fights against it. Like Friedrich’s painting, her abstract perception as a frame and opening to another world and experience, invites the viewer to look into the virtual landscape. “Tunnel” continues Fu’s formal and conceptual exploration. The piece functions as a window into a parallel dimension that stimulates an awareness of both consciousness and space, extending out from the pictorial and expanding into the land of virtual reality.

  • SNOW YUNXUE FU ’s work engages in a Kantian quest to capture the experience of the sublime through the limited means of human consciousness. It is a contemplation that transcends cultural boundaries and one that opens onto fundamental inquiries into the nature of human existence: who are we, and what is our significance in the material cosmos? Her work explores the experience and the challenges that arise when we are faced with the notion of greatness beyond all possibility, calculation, measurement, or imitation, and inviting viewers to experience and consider our ability to articulate our physical limitation, to grasp it, and the fundamental questions that arise between the metaphysical and our physical perspective.
    Extending out from the pictorial, her installation work engages in a metaphoric relationship with physical perception, by which the sublime is framed and the viewer is invited into a liminal interior within a digitally constructed realm. Her work engages computer-rendered abstractions and installations that incorporate and manipulate architectural space to encourage and maximize the viewer’s response. Modeling her animations on the allegorical paintings of C. D. Friedrich, the universal aspiration to explore the nature of physical and metaphysical limits mirrors a fundamental aspect of her upbringing a world away, specifically Chinese Traditional Landscape Painting. Coming from a painting background to now working in digital media, she is interested in how the sublime has been framed throughout art history, and now explorations of the Techno-sublime, purposing her installations to implement perceptual experiences. She invites viewers to remember or imagine the infinite in nature – the first time you see the ocean, the Milky Way, or a view from a mountain peak – not just of the sake of experience and consider the infinite in the external, but how it invites us to look within ourselves, to encounter the infinite there, too.  snowyunxuefu.com

Full Text and photo p. 112-116