Back to All Events

Image At Surface Opening Reception




Materiality is not limited to touchable objects. The image a video/film creates is also a moving material, like fluttering fabric. When we see a material, the visual information triggers our tactile cognition and a sense of materiality so that we recognize how this material will feel if we touch it. This phenomenon happens with digital images as well. Giuliana Bruno, who studies surfaces in different media, says that an image is a material that manifests itself on the surface of media. For me, a video has a virtual materiality, but a video does not manifest its materiality in the same way as a physical object. For instance, in the videos I made for Majiang Project, the filmic settings lack a sense of space and seem flattened. The floral patterned and saturated red and green colors in the background makes the video’s image bright. The cut between scenes is smoothly connected with body gestures. The red seamlessly transitions into the green as if two pieces of fabric were stitched together. The whole video triggers a sense of materiality, similar to that triggered by fabric. It is not touchable like physical fabric, yet as a virtual materiality it influences us on a sensory level.

However, I do not intend to just make videos. I am more interested in connecting this virtual materiality with the physical materiality in the physical space we approach. The whole work is to be a continuum of surfaces on which the materiality manifests itself. This continuum is formed as the digital surface and the physical surface are stitched together. In one of my video installations, a video shot with a peephole lens is projected onto a sink full of black-dyed water. The black-dyed water is so still and reflective that it almost becomes a solid, while the projected light layers a soft, moving and absorbing image on the dark solid surface. In the video, the peephole lens is constantly being touched, blocked, wiped, blurred, stained, and cleaned, as if the membrane of water is touched from beneath. What is being touched is both the surface of the lens in the video and the surface of the physical water, as the two share one connected surface. The video’s virtual materiality not only can be connected with a physical materiality but also can connect the physical space we move through. In another installation, four sets of objects and projected videos are set up in four different rooms, where the viewer walks to each room to see the whole work. As the videos are synced up with each other, what’s been seen in the video in one room continues in the next room. From the first to the fourth room the four different videos connect different space. In these and many other ways, we perceive and sense the virtual materiality physically.

Zhengyang Huang, 2019