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Program : Installations


ÆTHER (Poor Objects)


ÆTHER (Poor Objects), 2021

Video installation, 18 min 28 sec

Artist : Li Shuang

Venue : World Travel Service

ÆTHER reflects on the mediated world through a ring light, untethering the body from being so that it can drift into making connections beneath a pixelated sky. The kaleidoscopic video collage references the ancient Chinese myth “Nv Wa Patches Up the Sky” about a goddess who created the universe and humans out of mud and clay. Catastrophe struck when the fire and water deities’ conflict caused the heavens to crumble, and the goddess patched up the holes that were left with herself. Bodily sublimation characterizes the conditions of contemporary life, where identities leak and blend with one another. Enmeshed in manufactured realities, the screen has come to define and dissolve not only our notion of labor and leisure but how we manifest these as activities. A webcam model mixes and restructures the concept of pleasure, while a mukbang vlogger escalates the simple act of eating into a spectacle of endless consumption. Subject and object mirror each other in the attempt to reflect on each other forever, which can never really be realized. Being everywhere and nowhere, memories and lineages detach and reattach endlessly through networks of online hyper-connectivity, caught in the era of seismic shifts where the mediated world no longer holds up the heavens. 

Li Shuang’s expansion on her investigation with the mediated world is shaped by her experiences of absence and fleeting sense of belonging, where one settles not in one place, but in shifting constellations. ÆTHER is an ode to reclaiming unmediated experience, asking amidst the sea of avatars and representations, where our body resides.

Commissioned by Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai.