Datarium is a series of generative animation/video installations. In this series, I imagine a digital world inhabited by digital creatures. Many portals, some of them appear to be screens and some of them look like everyday objects, bridge the gap between our reality and the digital domain. Each portal offers a unique glimpse into specific areas of the digital world, revealing diverse ecosystems teeming with digital life forms.
Datarium is the result of a series of extensive studies on diverse natural ecosystems, especially aquatic ones. It is a re-interpretation and re-imagination of the world we occupy, an exploration of alternative forms of organisms, and a question of the essence of life.
This work is inspired by Yip Yuk Yiu’s work False Words. Yip Yuk Yiu was my professor at the School of Creative Media. In that work, he created a computer program to continuously reconstruct Liu Xiaobo’s famous quote, “I have no enemies(我沒有敵人)”. The program repeatedly prints the result on a screen, layer by layer. Slowly, the other characters became fully colored blocks, and only the character 人(human) stood out to be recognizable. But in the end, it is still gradually buried by the words that are constantly printed on top of it.
The act of writing over and over on top of the text produces huge tension. It symbolizes an extreme obsession but still gives the audience plenty of room to imagine where the obsession comes from—whether it’s because someone doesn’t want to forget, or because of some strong emotions. That’s why I love this way of presentation.
In this work, I made the computer program to continuously transcribe part of the poem by Polish poet Wisława Szymborska, Children of the Age. The famous Hong Kong indie band My Little Airport read part of this poem at their 2021 concert as a response to the new normal in Hong Kong after the social movement in 2019 and the epidemic in 2020. After countless repetitions, the machine became tired, and typos and mistakes gradually appeared in the written content. In the end, it seemed to lose its mind totally and began to write nonsense. In the process, the word “political” emerges from the repeated letters, showing the quantitative characteristic of the text, then gradually gets buried under the random tokens.
I named the work 流水落花Floating Petals. 流水落花(floating petals on flowing water) is a Chinese saying, first written by Li Yu, in his verse “流水落花歸去也，天上人間(Petals floating on streams, returning to their end. The past and now is like the haven and the earth)”. If you are familiar with Hong Kong pop culture, you may also think of Wyman Wong’s lyrics and Sing-Fung Ka’s movies. 流水落花 resembles the opposite of obsession, which forms a strong contrast with the behavior of the computer program in the work. To be obsessed and then insane, or to let go and then forget, is the biggest problem in this post-XX era.
Plasmodata is a generated animation based on the study of slime mould.
Slime mould is an interesting life form. For most of their lifetime, they are free-living single-celled individual entities. However, those simple cells developed a very sophisticated system of communication using acrasins which is highly similar to the nervous system of animals. In a sense, the slime mould cells form a coordinated “brain” which appears in highly intricate structures.
Inspired by recent studies of how slime mould transmit information, I digitally simulated their behaviors. These simple virtual lives collaboratively generate convoluted and aesthetically pleasing visuals.
Plasmodata is a sandbox, a cosmos, a question of our definition of life and intelligence.
Mechanic Synesthesia provides a special multi-sensory experience. The audience is invited to touch the sculptures made with different materials residing in the cells of The Hive. Sensors hidden inside the sculptures translate the touch into sounds and generative visuals representing fluidity and softness. The installation invites people to explore the different materiality of the sculptures through the three corresponding senses. As one of the audience said, “(it is) like I am hearing through my fingers and seeing through my ears.”
For Beyond Surface – Tactile Presence x Tate Modern Late March 2023
We watch a few hundred videos from conspiracy/fake-news channels on YouTube and cut out the clips of them saying words like “actually”, “absolutely”, and “really” to peek into the linguistic structures of those videos – how do they convince people to believe in their narrative and “truth”.
The Textbook Of Disappearing is a fun-to-watch useful audio-visual textbook about how to disappear in this digital era, featuring dank humor and bad VFX. No boring lecture, a hundred percent combination of education and entertainment. Published in London, 2023, by the Disappearing Committee.
We rushed into a society with highly advanced digital technologies, but not until recently did we realize that it is a cocoon we created. Smartphones and social media are taking our life away. In this tutorial, you will learn how to take back control in simple steps.
The event aims to push the boundary between virtual and real. In this post-simulacrum era, the boundary is already a bit dissolved. In this background, we examine the virtual as the method of knowing and deconstructing reality. We create this totally fake but somehow existing event to question the meaning of existence and the foundation of our value. We intentionally picked the values in the context of NFT as an example. In this event, the artist is fake, the artwork is fake, and even the frame is fake. However, what does it indicate to be fake? What does it mean to be real? Where does the value of “original” and “authentic” come from?
It may sound weird, but we are glad if you are confused. Thank you for coming tonight and participating in this action. We hope we have brought some new ideas to you.
Akira Minagawa is famous for his insistence on using a hand-drawing process for his textile design.
I created algorithms to try to recreate similar textile textures from purely 0s and 1s, questioning the possibility of digital media and asking the following questions: Can we recreate everything digitally? If so, does it also means that the “real” world we are in can also be another kind of “digital”?