Bikeride, 2010 – Beijing
Sound/Video Installation, 2010
Bronx AIM exhibition, 2011
About “With Liyu” – April 2011
I traveled to Asia for the first time last summer. It was a very exciting trip. During part of the time I had an artist space through the generosity of Red Gate Gallery in Beijing and I was able to get a taste of some of the art community in Beijing. During my final week in a rash attempt to record something of the environment and my experiences. I went around making collaboration videos with people I’d met. The making of these videos was spontaneous and unsystematic. Each one records some brief relationship or interaction.
“With Liyu” was made with the artist Yeo Liyu 杨来耀 who works for my host Red Gate Gallery. Whenever I saw Liyu I would ask him to help me with pronunciation of a word or phrase I happened to be working on. “With Liyu” consists of a video and audio components made in a short amount of time while tasting tea at Liyu’s studio. The tea, different varieties from Fujian province, Liyu’s home region were delicious and subtle. Liyu is a connoisseur of tea and prepared it skillfully and elegantly. I was explaining my idea of collaborations to him but i was having trouble. My thoughts seemed to have no context here, and I wasn’t clear that Liyu — who as an artist makes rich dark-room manipulated photographs and installations with giant palm fronds — understood what I was after. Record some video, sort of an experiment, right here, right now. To understand better, Liyu got the dictionary. Collaboration 合作 hézuò.
As we worked on pronunciation, I turned on the camera. The camera was positioned at the end of the narrow table with the tray of tea preparations and faced the wall. It is a wall of Liyu’s studio, a group of rooms around a small courtyard in a village of Northern Beijing.
The camera is a Canon Powershot.
In editing, I made very few changes to the video. One manipulation that did emerge came out of an effort to clean up the sound. Working with audio software and the help of an expert, I discovered a hidden sound consisting of hiss extracted from the spoken language. I decided to isolate this and use it in the piece creating a triangle of elements: the hiss sound (which is sort of spacey), the original sound (two people speaking), and the video image of the static studio wall. Within this trio I found a number of resonances and relationships.
Projecting the video on a wall creates a parallel between the wall of Liyu’s studio in northern Beijing and the immediate wall. This parallel is similar and different to the two speakers, who attempt to reproduce each other’s sounds, to exchange a word across language and culture, and to communicate. There is also a similar and different parallel between the original audio track and the hiss track. The hiss track is an artifact of the recording device. Isolated it reminds me of the impurity of the transaction of recording, distortions of memory and -on a grand scale- the non-communication of events through time. In the same sense, then, the track of our voices is a contained record of time.
The piece as a whole is a reflection on communication, exchange, bridging and collaborating.
It is also an homage to open walls.