Installation #4 Trapped Body

Title: Trapped Body

Material: wood, cotton, canvas


My newest installation is a sculpture of self-portrait, relating to my personality and isolation issues caused by the functional imperfection in the society of desiring machines. The installation has two parts, a wood wall and multiple pieces of clothing materials. The surface of the wall covered by a litter of clothing’s and shoes’ pieces, which indicated the outline of a human’s body, even though the central part of the human body looks like being trapped behind the wall.


The first thing that I have learned from the previous three-round installation critics is the gap between the way I was thinking and the way my work was talking. While we were learning the “copy-reality” model of representation, we are being taught to realise the existence of gap during this reflection process, which gap not presented but hidden behind the result.


When I was trying to rethink my practice, I gradually understand what it is saying. Although we can directly make some pieces of work just by reflecting our thoughts, pull it out of our brain and set it up in front of the audiences, but more importantly, we should pay attention to the possibility of interaction between the work and whoever will look at it. Thus, I should make sure there are at least something commonly understandable by both the artists and audiences, which is also like a “diffraction”.


I have tried at least three installations during this period of studying, I tried to communicate with the audience through the cold-blood, logical, computer graphic images, but all of them somehow failed. So I decided to find another direction to express myself, make it more acceptable. According to the advice which I got in the tutorial, the first thing to do is keep trying to find my inner personality, take something inside and put them outside, instead of grabbing everything attractive outside and forcing those technics and meanings on my artworks.


Speaking of the character of myself, one fact that I can not deny, is I am always afraid of what if I am not talented enough to be an artist. It is just like the way I used to fear about what if I was not professional enough to be an excellent programmer. These problems are bothering me so much while I am standing on the crossroad of my life, so I decided to start my practice with those troubles instead of those early ones.


Before I developed my I idea, I will start from something material, something warm, but by no means a portrait of one more regular human face, as Donna Haraway suggests, diffraction is marked by patterns of difference, not identity. Furthermore, I am trying to connect my art piece with the environment where it is set up, not only making an artwork fitted into the exhibition area, but also fill the phenomenon into my artwork. Considering one of my anxieties is the process to be an artist, this learning zone – Art Studio K301 – should be the perfect solution to be selected as part of my work.


By using the positive space of the studio – the area people could walk around – I’m trying to reveal the negative space – the wall’s inner space – at the same time. Like Heidegger’s saying, by using the Beings to “reveal” the concealing things, while both of them are real and existed contents. Thus, the whole piece of artwork could be vivid and alive, rather than rational and logical. The physical materials involved in this installation, which are edges and pieces cut from clothes and shoes, indicate the outline of the human’s shape, reveal the hidden body inside the wall.




The unseen bodies do not occupy any spaces or designed as any particular forms, the structure of the inner part of the work only exists when audiences are looking at the work. As Barad’s suggests, “the crucial point is not merely that intentional states are inherently unknowable, but that the very nature of intentionality needs to be rethought”. There is no fixed outline in this artwork, instead of that, the outline only made and shaped when people try to get into the artwork.


The other parallel developing direction of this work begins with the question “What is isolation”? Sounds like the Heidegger’s question “What is a jug?” Isolation might be defined as a social status, while people have less connection with the other people. But what is “connection”? The word I finally found is “desiring machine”. When we are involved in this desiring machines society, people who are not perfect functional will be abandoned and be isolated. The function here could be described as the ability to make money, or capacity to adapt to the chain of giving and taking. When the machine of society begin to identify people by the logic of who are isolated and who are not, we already presupposed the necessary of a desiring machine society. Arising out of this premise, we stick various labels onto people and identify them as individuals, like those classical philosophers did. As a result, we forget the real world we are living, which is the world whose elements are all affecting each other, becoming each other, connecting each other, like Heidegger’s rhizomes.


Another question could be, is isolation a terrible thing that we should stay away from it? By announcing the majority of citizens isolate the minor of us, we can see the hierarchy behind this common sense: the majority of people are dominating their isolated compatriots. As Heidegger suggests in his book A Thousand Plateau, to become a man, those isolated people do not have to be accepted by the rest of the society in the first place.


Furthermore, there is no such an exact status of isolation or conjunction, all of us are the way either becoming isolated or welcomed. When people are trying to isolate some others, the fact is, they are the ones who exactly afraid to be separated. Because they already accepted the rules of the desiring machine society, nonfunctional components will be abandoned and isolated.


Also, inspired by Barad when she mentioned Schrodinger’s cat thought experiment, reminds me the action of audiences could be able to create the new reality. In my further attempts in this work, if I could change the numbers of those hidden sculptures, for instance, at least five similar installs are set in one space (might be arranged together or separated). In this situation, when the number of audiences at the scene varies, the roles of the audiences are also changing at the same time. If the viewers become the minority of people, a new question suddenly surfaced: who are the isolated crowd at this moment?


In conclusion, it is fascinating to approach the photography and art topics with these tools of philosophy, especially when we decided to make artwork no longer a copy of reality, but the reality itself, and I indeed benefit the feedbacks a lot when I am going through this making processing.