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Digital Direction (MA)

Xianwei Zhou

Bamboo slips made of gallium metal recording poetry.
Bamboo slips made of gallium metal recording poetry.
Gradual melting of gallium metal
Poetry projected on the wall

My project is inspired by the poet Borges' cartography, which is a good metaphor for the limitations of human knowledge and understanding. As well as language and writing are the primary tools we use to express our knowledge and understanding. However, language itself has inherent limitations in capturing and conveying the complexity of ideas, experiences, and cultural contexts. The nuances and depth of human knowledge and understanding often exceed the capacity of language to adequately express them.

My work "pu" is an interactive installation using written text as a medium, which explores the inherent limitations of language itself in capturing and conveying complex ideas, experiences and cultural contexts through abstraction, and we step away from words to better explore and understand the nature of the world, implicitly conveying the Taoist concept of "uncarved blocks" (Park), by embracing the state of returning to the basics as a way to provide a way of thinking about our understanding of the world as well as stepping away from words to understand the nature of the world anew.

As the viewer wears the brainwave device, it triggers lights and heating devices to focus the viewer's attention on the bamboo slips molded in special gallium metal in the device, while the viewer tries to understand the verses on the slips, the words become less and less clear as the temperature rises and the gallium metal melts, (symbolizing that when we try to understand and explain the essence behind the words through language, we can never fully capture the (symbolizing that we can never fully capture the essence of what the text is trying to convey when we try to understand and interpret it through the words of language). Eventually the text and the bamboo slips are heated (a metaphor for how people understand and think about words) and turned into a stone in its unprocessed, natural state. Through reading the words on the bamboo slips, the difficult reading process, and the final melting into an uncarved stone, the viewer comes to understand the Taoist nature of Chinese Taoism of returning to the basics.

Degree Details

School of CommunicationDigital Direction (MA)RCA2023 at Battersea and Kensington

RCA Kensington, Darwin Building, Lower-ground and Upper-ground floors

Photographs of the artist

Xianwei Zhou was born in 1995 and graduated in oil painting as a young contemporary artist from Hangzhou, China. He currently lives and works in London. He specializes in using multiple media such as installation, painting, and photography to express his narrative on human, social, and historical themes.

He guides audiences to explore new ways of understanding the world by merging the physical and digital realms, using symbols, metaphors, and visuals to create layered, thought-provoking experiences.