Interview with Lu Lyu

Sail East to find Lemnos!

written by Kaylee

1. How did your journey from Interactive Telecommunications and roles as a
Senior Creative Technologist inspire your transition into the world of art? Can
you share a bit about the personal journey or experiences that led to your
decision to explore art more deeply, especially considering your earlier roles
involving interactive technologies?

The Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at NYU Tisch is a place that
encourages creativity, where students from diverse backgrounds such as physics,
biology, chemistry, art, and design converge to explore different possibilities. Before
joining ITP, I worked at a new media art company and have a strong interest in the
intersection of art and technology. At ITP, I've been fortunate to encounter Daniel
Rozin. Daniel's renowned works have been seen worldwide. In his digital fabrication
class, he shares his journey as a creator, and his words resonate with me, especially
when he talks about witnessing a work being perfected yet losing many possibilities
in the process. His words echo in my mind every time I create something. The
collaborative spirit and artistic drive I see in him and the ITP community inspires me
to explore my own art journey.

2. As a Senior Creative Technologist at Deeplocal, how do you bring your
expertise in interactive experiences into your artistic practice? How has your
work in developing interactive technologies influenced your approach to
creating art that engages audiences in a different way?

In Deeplocal, I've been involved in projects with larger scales both in terms of size
and content. This has given me the opportunity to witness the full industry-level
process of interactive installations, from conceptualization and design to packaging,
shipping, and on-site installation details. For example, I gained experience from my
co-workers in handling aspects like packaging, delivery, and regerminating circuits for
my own projects.

In my role as a creative technologist, I practice my skills for computer graphics and
creative engineering. For the tree ring project with Google, I had to write a shader for
the tree rings. Interestingly, I had previously experimented with generating tree rings
using code in my 3-day personal projects. However, this Google Tree Ring project
demands a higher level of interaction, thus it adds more complexity to creative
coding, such as real-time generation of blisters on the tree rings upon participant’s
touch. This is a project that pushes me to enhance my shader skills significantly.

I designed a program that transforms a wall into a giant touchpad. By integrating a
LiDAR sensor on its surface, the wall becomes click-responsive to human touch. I
envision applying these technologies if the need arises for larger-scale installations in
the future.

I've had the opportunity to collaborate with excellent colleagues, such as Heidi He.
Together, we worked on "the Breathing Wall" project, which is showcased in the
current exhibition.
the Breathing Walls

3. Could you share a pivotal moment or experience from your educational journey
that significantly shaped your approach to your career, and how did your post-
doctoral Research Residency at NYU and other artistic residencies further
enrich your understanding of the intersection between art and technology?

During my postdoctoral research residency at New York University, I started the
Kinetic Sculpture Club. It became a platform not only to share my passion for kinetic
sculpture and knowledge, but also to educate other people about how to build kinetic
parts with 10+ weekly workshops. Engaging in a project that involved both research
and facilitating workshops allowed me to impart my understanding of the intersection
of art and technology to students.

4. Having lived and worked in both Pittsburgh and New York, how have these
diverse environments influenced your artistic vision and cultural exploration?

I studied and worked in New York from 2019 to 2022. Upon arriving in New York city,
I was captivated by the abundance of art exhibitions and events at every corner. I
tried to spend all my weekends in galleries. Exhibitions like Lisson Gallery's "Wael
Shawky: The Gulf Project Camp" captivated me with its storytelling. The clock
exhibition “Making Marvels'' at the Metropolitan Museum showcased intricate
mechanics and automatas in Europe. It inspired me to incorporate mechanisms into
art. New York city's diversity and ever-changing art scene sparked my creativity. In
2022, I started to work in Pittsburgh. In contrast, Pittsburgh is much quieter. I start to
be more focused on my inner power, and this is when I start to make my kinetic work
into a series. Engaging with skilled woodworkers and participating in the Hack
Pittsburgh project, I learned a range of woodworking techniques. The tranquility of
Pittsburgh allowed me to delve into woodworking and rock climbing, offering
opportunities for pursuing craftsmanship and art creativity. New York pulsated with
possibility, a kaleidoscope of experiences on a grand stage. Pittsburgh became a
quiet sanctuary, a stage for introspection and inner exploration.

5. Your artwork often involves wood, motors, and microcontrollers. How do these
materials and technologies contribute to the harmony you seek in the interplay
of geometric deformation and sculptural lines?

My artistic works often involve wood, motors, and microcontrollers. I seek harmony in
the interaction of geometric deformations and sculpted curves. I always start with a
single idea. If the artwork is considered a riddle, this idea serves as the answer. All

chosen materials are intended to serve a moment of motion. I was inspired by the
artist Arthur Ganson. In his work, Cory’s Yellow Chair, six split parts suddenly
traverse different trajectories in the air, culminating in a loud sound as they combine
into a chair. His emphasis on time is akin to the essence driving my pieces – the
"now" moment, much like the clap at the beginning of a Buddhist dharma talk
signaling the present moment. My works aim to capture such moments, creating
harmony through the intricate interaction of wood, motors, and microcontrollers,
guiding the audience towards the immediacy of the present in the art.
“Fold Qingguo Alley” exhibited in LMCC

6. The exhibition "Sail East to find Lemnos!" has a captivating title. Could you
explain the concept behind the title and how it relates to the overall theme of
the exhibition? What inspired you to explore the kinetic and cultural
landscapes in this particular body of work?

The title envisions an island of women, where femininity, machinery, softness, and
hardness coexist. Lemnos Island exists in real life, but I refer to its mythological story.
In Greek mythology, there is an island of women called Lemnos. According to legend,
the women on the island were abandoned by their husbands. In retaliation, the
women of Lemnos killed all the men on the island. Pliny the Elder mentioned in his
"Natural History" that Lemnos Island had an extraordinary labyrinth, but it remains
undiscovered in modern times.

As a female creator, I am intrigued by the imagery of a female nation on an island.
However, I am not a fan of the story of a beautiful woman becoming a symbol of lust.
I aim to redefine this female island in the sea. New York happens to be a harbor city,
reminiscent of classic stories like Moby Dick, which began with Herman Melville's
whaling voyage. The famous South Street Seaport is not far from :iidrr gallery. So, I
imagined embarking on a journey from the gallery, heading towards the rumored
East, to find this island of daughters.

the island of Lemnos

7. The exhibition explores themes of heritage, ancient femininity, and personal
relationships. How do you incorporate these themes into your artworks, and
what information or emotions do you hope viewers will gain from them?

Ancient femininity represents the gentler, seemingly unassuming women of the past,
who, regardless of intensity, all have moments of female awakening. I aim to capture
these seemingly traditional, gentle moments of female awakening through sculpture.
My interest in Nüshu (女书) arises from the belief that it captures the collective
subconsciousness of these women. The origin of this exploration stemmed from a
dream where I saw the other lu in the distance. That other me is suddenly unable to
suppress something. The skin on my chest slowly began to protrude, taking on
angular shapes until it transformed into a series of flying eaves.

womeness in motion

Through sculpture, I continuously allow these women to reclaim their relationship with
their bodies and space. In ancient times, unmarried women lived in high chambers
and couldn't descend to meet people, essentially being confined within a room.
However, I believe their presence surpasses the confines of this physical space.
Using the curved surfaces in these sculptures, I aim to empower them to reclaim
entire houses, entire groups of buildings, and entire islands, using their bodies as a


8. Your work delves into the heritage of your homeland. How do you navigate the
representation of cultural elements in your art, and what role do they play in
conveying your personal narrative? Are there specific cultural references or
stories that hold special significance for you in the context of this exhibition?

My artworks delve into the traditional culture of my homeland, incorporating cultural
elements through scene selection and symbol usage, creating an artistic context rich
in cultural significance and personal narrative. In this exhibition, specific cultural
references hold special meaning for me. Qingguo Alley, an ancient alley in
Changzhou, Jiangsu, represents emotional memories, while the Nüshu (女书) script
from Jiangyong, Hunan, symbolizes ancient cultural traditions and the power of
women. The piece "The Garden of Forking Path" echoes Borges' book, emphasizing
the intertextuality between literature and art. In "Breathing Walls," the maze draws
inspiration from ancient legends and the symbolic meaning of mazes in culture,
infusing the work with mystery and significance. These cultural elements creates an
art experience resonant with emotions and cultural connections for the audience.

The Garden of Forking Path

9. You have been involved in prestigious residencies in New York and at
Shanghai Sen Rong. How have these experiences influenced your artistic
practice, and do you find collaborations and residencies essential to your
creative process? Are there specific insights or lessons from your
collaborations that have left a lasting impact on your approach to art?

My residencies at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) and Shanghai Sen
Rong had a profound impact on my artistic practice. At LMCC, having a dedicated
studio space on Governor Island allowed me to interact with fellow resident artists
from diverse stages of their artist career. For example, I met Anna from France, who
inspired me to create a series of sculptures. In Sen Rong, I learned how to build and
repair ancient architecture. Traditional woodworking techniques deepened my
appreciation for wood. I have become fond of the scent of camphor wood. This
experience emphasized the importance of honesty in working with wood and the
need for constant practice to refine my skills. Collaborations and residencies have
become integral to my creative process, driving ongoing exploration, learning, and
growth in my artistic journey.

10. Given your experience as the founder of the Kinetic Sculpture Club, do you see
yourself getting more involved in educational initiatives to inspire the next
generation of artists and technologists?

Absolutely! I would love to be involved in educational endeavors, especially in New
York. As the founder of the Kinetic Sculpture Club, I am keenly aware of the
importance of education, especially in inspiring interest and creativity in the next
generation of artists and technologists. I hope to share my experience and
knowledge to guide students in exploring the intersection of art and technology and to
inspire their creative potential. In teaching, I expect to establish an open learning
environment that encourages students to experiment with new ideas and
technologies and develops their ability to think independently in the creative process.
Through education, I hope to contribute to the growth and development of the next
generation of artists and technologists.

:iidrr Interview with Yan Shao
2023 August

Yan Shao

Yan Shao is a terrestrial artist and creative technologist based in New York. Yan’s imaginative new media works explore the uncharted territories of perception, mediating the complex interrelations between humans and the environment. Yan's artistic language draws inspiration from geopoetics, the transitory essence of nature, and the human responsibility towards ecology, resulting in a unique and evocative visual narrative. Through her photography, video, and interactive installation, Yan invites viewers on a journey of discovery and reflection, exploring the depth of our connection with the earth.

Your journey started in science and transitioned to art. How has your background in Geology influenced your approach to art?

My background in Geology has been fundamental to my approach to art. It has instilled in me a deep appreciation for the Earth and its processes, and a desire to communicate this appreciation to others in a way that is engaging and accessible. The training in Geology has taught me to perceive the world beyond its surface, and to understand the interconnectedness of elements and events over time. It has also taught me a sense of time that happened on a geological scale, or earth scale, we named it deep time, compared to the human-constructed scale of hours and minutes. For instance, orogenic movements, the processes that mountain ranges raise up, occur over millions of years. They are gradual yet immensely significant and impactful. These perspectives are crucial in my thinking and practice, and the expressive way I choose in my work.

COVID-19 has had a significant impact globally and personally for many. Can you talk about how the pandemic influenced your creative process and the way you approach regional and global narratives?

During the COVID-19, I was preparing for my graduation at San Francisco Art Institute, and of course, the graduation exhibition was canceled. But I didn’t want to give up because the work can’t only be shown physically. So I started researching net art and how websites function as public spaces. During that time, I went to the Salton Sea in Southern California for a field study on place, space, history, and ecology. As I heard news reports of the daily death toll, I observed numerous dead aquatic organisms and birds at the Salton Sea. This contrast prompted me to reflect on human intervention in nature and the massive wildlife deaths, which later inspired me to create a website monument where everyone can come to mourn the biology of life and the spirit of life.

The pandemic made me more conscious of the role of technology in shaping our perceptions and understanding of the world. When we went into lockdown, technology or the internet became our primary means of connection, altering our sense of place and time. This prompted me to think more critically about the ways in which technology is essential in the process of human civilization and inevitable in our daily experiences. Besides, the pandemic raised my awareness of how fragile an idealized concept of globalization, leading me to think more about how regional storytelling is important in preserving diversity and establishing shared knowledge.

Barnacle Beach at the Salton Sea, 2020
Lived In A Sea Monument showed on ZAZ at Time Square, New York, 2020
Lived In A Sea Monument showed at :iidrr, 2023
One Hundred Barnacle, 2020

You have mentioned the Gaia Theory as an influence in your research. How does this theory resonate with your work, and how do you incorporate its concepts into your installations?

The Gaia Theory, proposed by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, that Life is a phenomenon that occurred in the earth’s history and has profoundly influenced the conditions for survival and thriving. It is a fascinating concept that helps us to understand the earth as a whole, which has been transformed and inhabited by its copartners, including organisms and other ingredients such as atmosphere, soil, rocks, seas, minerals, etc. It inspires me in my installations that inform a more egalitarian perspective of all organisms and highlight mutual dependencies between humans, organisms, and the environment.

"Autopoiesis" is an audiovisual installation that simulates biomass bloom. What are the visual and sound represent and can you elaborate on the inspiration behind this work?

The project is a computational simulation of algae bloom, an environmental hazard in today’s world, yet also a representation of vigorous biological reproduction process. It is inspired from an ancient organism, cyanobacteria, who dominated the Great Oxidation Event and transformed the earth from an anaerobic to an aerobic atmosphere around 2.5 Ga(billion years) ago. It is one of the most vibrant organisms that can double themselves in a day. Though people often associate trees when towards a greener planet, it is actually cyanobacteria and its variable descendents floating in water, that assimilate most carbon dioxide and produce 70% oxygen of the earth. My aim with this project is to render this behavior more visible and to question human’s essential reliance on oxygen and our connection to organisms that often go unnoticed in our daily life.

Autopoiesis, 2021

"Algae Chorus" is a sound installation that collaborates with living algae. Why do you want to use living algae and any technical challenges you faced while creating it?

This project is the continuation from “Autopoiesis”, as I want to create a more sensual and interactive experience to discuss the broader group of organisms - algae. Algae has become a popular biological subject recently, being a biomaterial for industry and the potential biofuel factory. However, these approaches often carry an anthropocentric perspective that treat algae as resources rather than incredible creatures we humans actually heavily rely on. Facing the climate emergency, it is crucial to reimagine algae’s role in the carbon cycle and recognize its importance beyond its utility to humans. For this installation, I chose three different species of algae that inhabit different aquatic environments: single-cell cyanobacteria: Spirulina, microalgae: Nannochloropsis, and Chlorella Vulgaris.

Algae Chorus, 2022

In this installation, I employed 24 light sensors with LEDs to sense algae’s movements, and a carbon dioxide sensor to measure the gallery’s CO2 level. All of these were run on a Raspberry Pi. The physical computing part has many challenges, as I assemble and solder components myself. I spent a lot of time debugging the programming and resolving compatibility issues between different parts, as some ports and interfaces on the Pi did not work together.

test sensors

all parts assembled together in the gallery

Raising algae also has a little challenge at first as they all need different base and light conditions. But after a period of caring, I gradually learned how to keep them alive and thriving. This installation aims to create an engaging listening experience and open a discussion on our relationship with organisms living on the earth toward a sustainable future.

algae live in Yan’s apartment

Your project "Left To Feel That Wind" explores the perception of deep time and human time through the transformation of the Great Salt Lake. How did you come up with this concept, and what message do you hope to convey through this installation?

I visited the Great Salt Lake in the winter of 2022, during which the lake had significantly shrunk and was at its lowest water level. During my field study, I discovered that its extension, the Bonneville Salt Flat not far away, shared the same landscape, the Great Basin. The dried salt flat was once a vast lake before the last Ice Age. The vast and beautiful landscape inspired me to recreate this installation in-situ to discuss the transition of time and space and how climate change, as a radical transformation, has been accelerated by human impact.

“Left To Feel That Wind” emerged from my personal experience and reflections on the deep time versus the industrial time scale we get used to. This installation provides a shift in perspective through the material composition and spatial-scale of work - from a human view of time to a more earth view on the progressive evolution of inert matter and the delicate balance of the Earth.

Road Trip to the Great Salt Lake, 2022

Left To Feel That Wind, 2023

Throughout your career, you have blended science, technology, and art to create a bridge between humans and the Earth. How do you see the role of technology evolving in your future works?

Technology will continue to play a crucial role in my future works, as we are living in an era of technology which has profoundly influenced our perception and understanding of the world. The key is how to use technology. Instead of using it as a tool for control and surveillance, I’d like to imagine it to create experiences that enhance our sensory perception, and manifest abstract scientific knowledge in an accessible way, which is my goal how it could function to foster a deeper connection between humans and the earth.

What are your future plans? What are some themes or concepts that you are excited to explore in your upcoming projects?

My next project may relate to the ecological dynamics of estuaries. Since I have lived in New York for two years, I find myself drawn to the Hudson-Raritan Estuary. Estuaries are fascinating because they are transitional zones where saltwater and freshwater meet, symbolizing the junction of land and ocean. They provide insights into the interconnectedness of the earth and civilization, and serve as a metaphor for the ways in which different systems interact and influence one another. I would like to explore more how Hudson-Raritan Estuary has evolved into a rich ecological system and how it has nurtured one of the most diverse cultural hubs - New York.

Recently, I presented “Algae Chorus” at the 28th International Symposium on Electronic Art(ISEA) in Paris, where I met many people discussing various aspects of art and science, from soil, mycelium, bacteria, squid, glacier to alternative cosmology perspectives. Moving forward, I want to explore more residency and presentation opportunities, forge connections with broader intellectuals, researchers, and artists, who I would love to collaborate and work together to envision a shared future.

Generative Visual Practice, 2022

Mnemosyne: A Visual Exploration of Memory and Reality in AR

An Interview with Jun(Runqi) Zhou

Apr  20th, 2023

Jun Zhou was born and raised in Beijing and holds a BA degree from NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study with a concentration in Cyberspace Narrative. Her academic exploration revolves around media theories, interactive media arts, film, and computing. She examines the existence of individuals within society and the world, including self-identity, connections with others, mental/physical perception, and the influence of the internet/media, from a media and information perspective. Her works create experiences and narratives by organizing information and producing multimedia content.

Can you tell us about your background and how it has influenced your work?

I was born and raised in Beijing and basically grew up with culture of television, film screen, and computer since I had memory, which made me exposed to a wide range of things. While I wasn't sure where my interests lay in high school, I chose to study at NYU Gallatin, where I could freely explore different departments such as film, philosophy, computer science, and cultural studies. The interdisciplinary academic and artistic practices during my undergraduate studies fueled my curiosity about different media and theories. As a result, I developed a mindset that it's always possible to learn something new from scratch. This background also instilled in me a belief that knowledge and experience from different realms can be integrated and applied to create a cohesive work that reflects the unique perspective of the creator.

What inspired you to focus on media theories, interactive media arts, film, and computing?

My interest in these topics comes naturally as I explore different disciplines. I discovered my fascination with the process of accumulating, fabricating, and transmitting information during my sophomore year. This fascination helped me connect my practices and research.

To me, the boundaries between media arts, filmmaking, and computing are ambiguous as they all involve ideating a concept, gathering necessary materials, forming a function or methodology, and turning those into an output. Although the agency varies between them, I find similarities in their inner logic, and enjoy the refreshment I get by switching my focus. I use theories to recharge myself between my practices, as I need to maintain a critical and flexible way of thinking to switch between different realms and reflect on myself. I particularly enjoy exploring the resonance between theories and artworks produced in different times and cultures, which confirms that we live in a non-linear nexus of information.

The Unlikely Journey of Inch Ichi, Short Film 2021

What inspired you to create Mnemosyne, and how did you come up with the idea for this project?

My inspiration for Mnemosyne comes from my research fellowship on virtual identities last summer. During this fellowship, I examined the concept of virtual identities in art and media throughout history and how digital technologies enhance their existence. This gave me the chance to investigate the concept and technologies of XR, and I learned to make several demos of myself. As I researched the topic, I found the concept of AR to be more fascinating than other approaches. AR indicates an overlapping state between reality and the virtual through digitalization, while VR leads to pseudo-immersion by temporarily cutting off perceptions of reality. I consider AR a more inclusive concept that could be applied to many scenarios, as a non-technological definition of augmented reality already exists in our lives. This understanding is the starting point for ideating Mnemosyne and has led me to seek possibilities of organically combining AR technology with life experiences. I draw inspiration from theorists such as Manuel Delanda and Sandy Stone, as well as artists like Anish Kapoor and Richard Serra.

Original Avatar Y

Could you please walk us through the 4 chapters of Mnemosyne and what kind of scenes users can expect to see in each chapter?

The chapters in this work are assigned different color codes, which opens them up to individualized interpretations rather than limiting their possibilities. The first chapter presents a subway-like scene with a cold-toned palette. Enclosed in a box, repetitive head figures are accompanied by floating fragments and lines. The faces in this chapter are AI-generated human portraits that have been post-processed into textures, with geometric meshes occupying the space between them. The second chapter has a more cheerful vibe, featuring several vessels swinging back and forth with colorful beams surrounding them. When a series of containers are placed in one spot, they perform a continuous rhythm that goes on ceaselessly. The third chapter presents a twisted beating heart that channels towards a world of noise that echoes with some acid aesthetics. The fourth chapter takes place in a serene water realm, in which each ripple generates a self-automated paper airplane.

Can you explain the core concept of Mnemosyne and how it is different from other AR experiences?

Mnemosyne is named after the Greek goddess of memory and was inspired by Aby Warburg's art history work, Bilderatlas Mnemosyne. This collection of wooden panels with pinned images traces patterns and themes established throughout the history of visual creations, capturing the dynamics in the representation of life. Although I am not a professional and did not scrutinize this project, I was intrigued by the concept and metaphor of Mnemosyne as a pathway to consider the cultural and historical influence of visual compositions.

Bilderatlas Mnemosyne

Technologically speaking, Mnemosyne consists of a series of image-detection AR experiences that are commonly seen in exhibitions. However, I didn't create Mnemosyne for a specific situation, nor do I consider it a one-time spectacle for people to glance at and then move on. I intentionally omitted specific information that would match real locations and events within the scenes, instead opting for a set of vague virtual objects. Most of the assets were originally modeled and shaded by myself with a degree of randomness involved, as I wanted these scenes to be situated in reality spontaneously and intuitively.

The logo and marker of Mnemosyne

How did you approach designing the Mnemosyne app, and what considerations did you make for user experience and interface design?

I started to think of designing as an extension of my AR creations, with the ultimate goal of making the project accessible . I realized that the limited accessibility and usability of not only my creations, but also other technologically-driven projects, could be attributed to the audience's lack of understanding and technological knowledge. Many XR works are known to people through video and image documentation, and from this perspective, the XR experiences presented in a video are not significantly different from videos or animations with special effects. This realization inspired me to conceive of a platform that brings XR creations to life, rather than simply existing within a video recording. Despite having no prior experience in mobile app design, I approached this as an experiment rather than a professional design. I invested considerable time in observing the apps I used for content creation and sharing, analyzing their information structures and layout designs. Although this is not an actual app and similar products may not emerge in the future, my hope is that the design conceptualizes something accessible and user-friendly, enabling users to enter the realm with minimal barriers.

The mind map

Could you please discuss your perspective on the existence of the individual within society and the world, particularly in terms of self-identity, connection with others, and mental/physical perception?

This is a broad topic. In the context of my works, I consider people to be both placed and placing themselves in the network of the world. Each person is a multi-dimensional point, linking with many other points, so it's normal to coexist with multiple identities and definitions without feeling paradoxical; or feeling paradoxical is normalized. Both mental and physical perceptions are equally "real" to us, as they are two sides of the same coin. I also advocate for an object-oriented ontology, as I strive to avoid representations of specific human beings or communities in some of my works, but instead, focus on the interdependence between humans and non-human objects. Rather than viewing the world hierarchically and chronologically, I see it as rhizomatic and non-linear. An individual has no clear starting or ending point, but exists as a series of events within the grand system, and connecting with others is a way to delve into those intricate relationships.

Wissen, Interactive Installation, 2021

How does the Mnemosyne AR experience intersect with your broader artistic practice, and what other projects are you currently working on?

As I explore different media, I do not consider Mnemosyne as an indication of how my future practices will be in terms of forms and contents. I rarely define the scale and length of a project in the initial phase, preferring to discover that in a fluid process. I also have a tendency to reevaluate my past ideas and make extensions. However, Mnemosyne does reveal to me the possibility of connecting and consolidating different situations and narratives into one piece, which encourages me to focus on the often-overlooked micro-events and the inconspicuous aspects of the world, and to interpret them in my own way.

Currently, I am preparing several different projects, some of which are design-oriented, while others are technology-oriented, and I am still in the process of figuring out the proper form for these projects. I am also working on smaller-scale projects such as zines or videos. In addition to creation, I am also considering how to efficiently share experiences and knowledge, which is important to me at this stage.

Graphic experimentation for fun

What challenges have you faced in your work, and how have you overcome them?

Creating things at one's own pace and mindset is a tough process in comparison to learning or making according to existing samples. One challenge is to keep self-validating amidst the messy situations of life, as last year I needed to maintain my academic and social life while squeezing time to contemplate about my own projects. Making things in a class or in a school system sometimes helps me to keep in track and avoid procrastination, but it also limits my energy to spend on each part and do self-reflections, therefore making me question myself whether I could do better or do alternatively. Now my approach to overcome such confusions is trying to view my works without the exterior interference, and accept my intuitive thoughts, no matter if it's positive or negative. I also find talking with others about future perspectives and reflections helps.

Finally, what message or takeaway do you hope users will have after experiencing Mnemosyne, and how do you hope it will impact their relationship with public spaces and mixed reality technologies?

Personally, I find mixed reality technology to be a good complement to public spaces, as it allows for the digitization of a location's infrastructure and history. Such an innovation can bring about numerous conveniences and creative possibilities for people. However, I am also aware that the overindulgence in technology may numb our perception of reality, as depicted in Keiichi Matsuda's Hyper-Reality.

Hyper-Reality by Keiichi Matsuda

In Mnemosyne, I have deliberately avoided the cyberpunk aesthetic and ensured that the assets do not overwhelm the physical space. My intention is not to exaggerate virtuality over reality but to help people memorize events, dates, or locations with multi-media stimulus. I kept playing around with the scenes in various locations around New York City, which was quite fun. I guess this is my aspiration for this project: it will not deprive us of anything, but adds layers to the ephemeral moments.

Mnemosyne, AR, 2022

#196 Jan 2019, Solid-State Poems

Every Object Is a Rabbit Hole

an Interview with artist Chengtao Yi

March 30th, 2023

Chengtao Yi

Chengtao Yi is a Chinese interdisciplinary artist currently based in New York. Yi observes the world’s cultural and spiritual condition through the lenses of man-made objects. His practice explores the criticality of production and consumption, function, and dysfunction.  He investigates and confronts the ontology of ordinary objects, both physical and virtual, alongside the economical, technological, and cultural backgrounds that conceive them. In his current practice, Yi uses various media such as sculpture, installation, photography, video, and digital media to construct specific narratives for the arguments and speculation to manifest.

What inspired you to become an interdisciplinary artist, and how did you begin your career in this field?

Having an industrial design background naturally brings various disciplines into my practice. And I got my master's degree in Interactive Art at ITP NYU so that's another set of disciplines that makes being interdisciplinary inevitable lol.

Your work often explores the criticality of production and consumption, what motivated this focus, and how do you approach this theme in your art practice?

I used to be an industrial designer in tech corporates designing consumer products. And that gave me a closer look at how things are mass-produced and then pushed to the mass. So how a product/object got made and then influences our world and experience always triggers me. I hold a critical perspective on these themes but I would describe my approach as being humorous. A lot of my friends think my art is 欠, but I don’t know how to translate that.


#291 Nov 2020, Solid-State Poems

Could you describe your creative process, from the initial idea to the final artwork?

I often have ideas while commuting. I am the kind of artist who can not generate ideas while in the studio so the NYC subway becomes the birthplace of many of my works. And then the workflow is divided into research, digital, and physical production. My studio does not have internet so it is for pure physical labor.

You use various media such as sculpture, installation, photography, video, and digital media to construct specific narratives for the arguments and speculation to manifest. Could you speak to how you select the medium for each project and why?

This is such a saturated era with saturated media and information. Contemporary artists are all, to some degree, DJs.  I really like to do an extended amount of research on the medium I choose, however, I still regard the ‘choosing’ part as very very intuitive.

#140 Oct 2017,Solid-State Poems

In your opinion, what is the role of art in society, and how do you see your work contributing to this role?

Such a grand question! From the top of my mind, I feel like It has a shifting boundary quality to it and it interconnects all areas and disciplines in society. But eventually, this shapeshifting boundary will ‘materialize’ and become the residue of our existence and human experience. As for my work, I can only assure you that they are the residue of me haha.

Lighted a lighter at Madame Tussauds, Size Variable, 2019

Your work investigates and confronts the ontology of ordinary objects, both physical and virtual. Could you talk about your definition of ontology in this context and how you explore it through your art?

It is so interesting to talk about ontology in our time when the virtual world is exploding and our attention is being colonized by digital content. I feel like back then when certain video games or movies or art broke the so-called 4th wall it was such a novelty but now breaking it becomes some sort of necessity, especially in the mainstream culture. The ontology exploration in my art often revolves around the interaction of different mediums. For example in the rocking chair piece, the lenticular image of the rocking chair rocks when the material chair rocks, that kind of awkward, almost dysfunctional relationship between the mediums is where I think the ontology lies and manifest. Moreover, all aspects of an ordinary object are subject to study, their genesis, function, and cultural influence are all part of the ontology study. There are endless opportunities there.

Rocking Chair, Rocking Chair, 2023 
Lenticular prints, light oak, plywood, magic tape, plastic zip tie
34 x 27 x 45.25’’

What economic and technological conditions influence your work, and how do you incorporate these elements in your art?

Definitely the social media and image-sharing culture. I became increasingly aware of how Instagram is changing my approaches to documenting and presenting artwork. It’s almost two pieces of artwork that you are making now, the ‘aura’ has almost shifted onto the cellphone screen. I am still processing this shift and figuring out how to ask the right questions.


Aura Study No. 1 No.4, 2023, acrylic, prints on paper, size variable 

You have exhibited your work internationally, including in China and the United States. How do different cultural contexts influence your art, and how do you adapt your work to different audiences?

Language is a big part. A great thing about mass-produced visual language is that it is inherently trying to appeal to as many people as possible so there is a universality to it.  Because of that certain intentions of my work can be conveyed without specific cultural signifiers/backgrounds. Might sound a bit like a cliche but I still believe that great art is universal. Meanwhile, I do love playing comparative games with these two cultures and each case can be situative and contextual.

Southern Weekend, 2021. 
Chinese Ancient Wine Jue Replica, Alcohol, Plastic Straw, Lime

What projects are you currently working on, and what can we expect from your future artwork?

I am working on a series of aluminum sculptures so that's exciting. I really wish I can have the chance to touch more areas so I hope all future projects can be very very different. Multi-role  Artist from Brooklyn, New York

Nov 23rd, 2022

Brief intro about yourself

I'm an Internet artist, electronic musician and a visual designer currently living in Brooklyn, NY, previously in the San Francisco Bay Area. My work is often in the form of experimental websites, audiovisual art and software prototypes which sometimes end up as tools for digital artists. My current major project New Art City is an online virtual art space and full toolkit for exhibiting digital works, started in 2020. So far we’ve had over 140 public exhibitions and displayed works of over 3,800 individual artists. I also maintain a database for new media art called, and ran an electronic music label called Gridwalk for 10 years. As an artist I use my domain name, interchangeably with my real name everywhere that will allow me to.

Exhibition space @ New Art City

Your inspiration or driving force

With my work I am focused on pushing the edges of digital culture to expand what's possible, or reveal possibilities that previously went unnoticed. I see my artwork as fundamental research into aesthetics and technology, attempting to combine them in ways that unlock new paths for composition, expression and excellence in how digital media is presented. I try to solve these problems for myself first as a practicing artist, and then formalize them into tools that provide a path for others. In general I try to create things that have never been done before on the Internet.

What does your creative process usually look like? 

Every artwork I make intersects with at least one of three focus areas: Aesthetic, Technical, and Conceptual, and my favorite and most successful works engage all three. Each one of these focus areas has a process that reinforces the others.

Aesthetic work starts as broad, open-ended experimentation, usually with only a rough idea of a composition, or a small compositional element I want to try out, followed by experimentation and refinement. This type of work includes the generative art I've been making lately, abstract expressionist paintings, live visuals and music recordings. The result isn't meant to have meaning, and I think it's counter-productive to assign meaning to purely aesthetic work. Creating aesthetic work is fundamental research into creating beauty and builds my bank of aesthetic techniques that I can use for projects that include a concept.

Technical work is spending time to practice and deeply understand the technology that I use, and sharpening my ability to execute on ideas. This part of my practice is usually developed in order to meet an aesthetic or conceptual idea, but occasionally I focus on a purely technical project such as my open source tool, code-keyframes, a timeline editor for setting JavaScript code to any music track. A technical project will start much like a client-driven design project, where goals and requirements are defined from the start... very different from open-ended aesthetic exploration but it creates more precise results.

still image of code-keyframes

Conceptual work is the most challenging for me but the most rewarding. A conceptual project will start with an idea, an emotion or phenomenon that I want to communicate and something that I think will resonate with viewers. Then I choose an aesthetic to convey this idea and figure out the technical process to execute it. It's challenging because a good concept should be easily communicated in a sentence or two and simplified to its core idea. Most ideas are too complicated to express this way, and the best art should convey the idea without the viewer having to read the statement. Some examples of this kind of work are my browser extension More Plants, and my net art piece Remember Me.

Browser Extension - More Plants

Net Art - Remember Me

Is there a series in your previous works that you would like to highlight? 

I keep coming back to video synthesis as an aesthetic technique. At this point I have created around five different approaches to video synthesis, including one unreleased project that creates images using only CSS gradients. I love it because each approach to video synthesis will have its own personality and flavor, and they all have emergent aesthetics that result from combining controls. Each new control that gets added to the system will have a compounding effect on the number of possible images that can be created based on how it interacts with the previously added controls.

There are some elements appearing coherently in your work, such as glitch, geometric transformation and flow. Can you talk a little bit about them? Is there a reason for these?

I can't say there is a meaning or reason for these elements beyond what I find aesthetically/compositionally beautiful. My work tends to have a consistent style, but it's not a planned outcome. It's more like the result of many curated accidents. My aesthetic choices come from a subconscious and intuitive place, and sometimes I only realize what I was visually influenced by much later after a work is created.

Your musical compositions are also very attractive. You also have many works on your website that combine music and visual art. What is your approach to combining visuals and music?

Shortly after starting my music label Gridwalk I learned how to generate visuals with code, which took me in the direction of becoming a professional VJ writing and performing with my own software (gifSlap), which I also used to create music videos for the artists on the label. Since then, audiovisual experimentation using the web browser has been a thread in my work, and I try to find new ways of performing with the browser beyond the basics of video playback. Using the browser as a real-time rendering engine for live performance is the most exciting because you get high-quality resolution, high frame rate and the interactivity of software without requiring any download. This idea applies to interactive music videos such as this one for EMINA and this one for Mangangs, as well as tools for performing live such as the one I'm developing now. This push for something real-time and shareable also led to the philosophy around New Art City, which is to present digital artworks online in a format that can remain visible to a broad audience for a long time and be shown in real-time high quality.

Interactive music video for Mangangs 

Whether it's a website, a virtual art platform, animation or music, your work seems to be dedicated to creating a third space that is different from the real world and immersive, and I feel surrounded by it as a viewer. Do you have any thoughts on the concept of “space” as related to your works?

I've spent perhaps too much time online, but I really enjoy the world wide web as a place to hang out on the edges of culture beyond the big platforms. I enjoy these spaces as asynchronous meeting points for virtual explorers and builders who took the time to set up their own corners of the net. My work exists because of the promise of the web as a free and open space where everyone can create without permission from anyone else. It's the ultimate place to show digital art; because of that I want to explore every aspect of what is possible and unlock new ways of working with it.

Could you tell us more about your ongoing generative series?

The generative series has around ten works in it so far created in the span of a year, and each builds upon the aesthetic and codebase established in the previous. They are all about the basic operations of drawing colors to the screen, then moving those pixels around using copy/paste functions. Each one has a random seed every time the page loads which determines the properties of the edition, which is a requirement for the works to be sold on fx(hash). The series started initially as a way for me to experiment with digital editions on web3. However, the work has led to creation of other artifacts like physical prints and my current live code performance tool which I'm calling another video synthesizer.

Generative Series

What made you think of building a virtual art platform? Does it have any features or differences?

New Art City was created from my ongoing research on how to exhibit digital art online and uplift Internet art to the exhibition standards of fine art. I was working on an MFA degree at San Jose State University when the pandemic started, and the first prototype was created immediately after classes were moved to an online model. The students and teachers were looking for a way to continue to exhibit their digital work and they served as the first set of beta testers. The widespread need for a better digital exhibition tool made New Art City grow quickly and it gained popularity in the digital art scene because it was created from within the community and addressed the specific needs of digital artists. The team is currently five individuals including me, and in addition to providing the toolkit we also run the yearly New Art City Festival and an ongoing residency program. We've always tried to position ourselves not as a platform, but as a toolkit and a gallery, which means we are culture and community first. We cultivate a space for artists to work together and adapt to their feedback. We don't look or behave like a normal startup company which sets us apart from every other virtual art gallery tool.

Any other hobbies besides art?

Art is life! But also lately I'm interested in learning about fashion, meeting new people and listening to music (as always).

rtyler (audio) x (visuals)

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