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Information Experience Design (MA)

Bryan Yueshen Wu

Bryan Yueshen Wu is a new media art creator and sound art explorer currently based in London. With a background in industrial and product design, Bryan brings a unique perspective to his art by incorporating design thinking and embracing interdisciplinary approaches such as sonic making, computing, and performance. Through his research and experimentation with materials and digital technologies, Bryan explores the intersection between immersion and interactivity. He interrogates the ways in which audiences experience new forms of reality and existence, pushing the boundaries of perception. His artistic investigations touch upon various themes including the self, ontology, nature, algorithms, and more.

Selected performance, exhibition and demonstration:

Evolution (w/ Ke Peng) - The Engine Room: International Sound Art Competition and Exhibition, Morley Gallery (2023)

Evolution (w/ Ke Peng) - Ties That Cannot Be Unbound, Online (2023)

MYcorrhizal (w/ Devanshi Rungta & Laura Selby) -  IRCAM forum workshop, Centre Pompidou (2023)

Evolution (w/ Ke Peng) - PASSAGE & 42nd White Noise, Iklectik ArtLab (2022)

Time-flux (w/ Jiajing Zhao) - Luminous competition by RCA & LG Display, Old Street Gallery (2022)

Shirley Dawn (w/ Laura Selby) - Immersive Audio Conference, University of Gloucestershire (2022)

MYcelium (w/ Laura Selby) - IRCAM forum workshop, Centre Pompidou (2022)

Bryan's portrait

Derived from my background in industrial design, the process of thinking-through-making has become integral to my artistic practice. I actively engage in creating, failing, and learning from those failures - a mode of study that embraces the value of experimentation and exploration. Throughout my time at RCA, I have developed a deep passion for experimental audiovisual performance and sonic creation, both in analog and digital forms. I enjoy exploring the possibilities of emerging technologies and incorporating them into my artistic investigations of sonic affordances, immersiveness, and interactivity. By embracing the complexity and chaos inherent in improvisation and digital generativeness, I continuously gain new perspectives that nurture the growth of my artistic creations.

Not Here, Not There is a contemplative sound installation accompanied by a short film and a book that explores the ontological dimension of immersion, drawing inspiration from Roland Barthes’s notion of  “two bodies” in his essay Leaving the Movie Theatre. Roland describes the first body as a narcissistic entity that becomes absorbed in the immersive medium, while the second one fetishizes its surroundings. In this sonic experience, the audience is invited to encounter and immerse themselves in their “sonic self” and all its sonic affordances; Through a series of interactions, they will be led on a journey across the boundary between the two bodies, ultimately engaging in an introspective conversation with themselves.

Etymologically, immersion describes a deep mental involvement. However, with the advancement of digital technology and its corresponding jargon, people’s perception of immersion seems to have fixated on the ways in which digitality, particularly on a grander scale, moulds immersion rather than one’s actual feeling within that given environment. In the vein of Roland’s deconstruction of the immersive experience in cinema, this project seeks to dismantle this newly formed associations of digitalisation and immersiveness, and engage the audience in a discussion about the essential constituents of immersion.

Bryan, his shadow and a mono speaker in the installation
The stage light in the installation
2023, Not Here, Not There - Mono Sound, Stage Light, LED Spotlight, Kinect Sensor, Audio Recorder, Infinite Duration

The installation piece comprises a spatial composition that emerges from an interplay between the audience, the stage light, the shadow, and the mono sound system. The soundscape and lighting are intricately intertwined with the intuitive movements of each individual in the space, creating a sonification of their presence. The constant visual feedback of the shadow stimulates a dialogic engagement with the self, empowering the audience to play an active role in shaping their experience. In this way, the work encourages an embodied exploration of the interconnection between the audience and the space, foregrounding the role of the individual in shaping this immersive encounter.

Bryan standing in the dark with a headphone
Bryan standing on a meadow
Bryan facing his shadow in the installation
2023, Not Here, Not There - Moving Image, Stereo Sound, 3:33
Bryan's side face

Complementing the installation, the experimental moving image work serves as a poetic response, further exploring the nature of selfness in immersion. The protagonist endeavours to unravel the essence of immersion and its interconnectedness with the self. We hear the sound of the wind as the rustling leaves sway on the branches, and we see the shape of the wind as the trees dance. How do we perceive immersion through the vessel of self?

In collaboration with Sunghoon Song

The book
2023, Not Here, Not There - Recycled Paper, Thread, 109 pages

As the project’s theoretical foundation, the book is divided into two parts. Influenced by Roland Barthes’s introspective exploration on photographs in his book Camera Lucida, the first half is a collection of the artist’s reflective writings on daily moments that he considers immersive. These include poems, diaries and essays. The second part features the artist’s MA dissertation, which offers a broader discussion on immersion in an academic yet accessible writing style.

In collaboration with Xiaoying Su

The performance at Iklectik
2022, Evolution | Performance - HD Live Moving Image, Stereo Sound, Projection, Transducers, Acrylic, Luminous Powder, Laser, Torch, 8:00
The performance at Iklectik
Evolution installation
2023, Evolution | Installation - HD Live Moving Image, Quadraphonic Sound, Projection, Transducers, Acrylic, Luminous Powder, White Sand, LED Strip, Infinite Duration
Evolution installation

Evolution is an immersive audio-visual installation and performance that celebrates the vitality of inorganic materials. The project takes its inspiration from the physics phenomenon of Cymatics, which has demonstrated that certain substances can autonomously form complex patterns in response to vibrations. This phenomenon challenges the traditional understanding of life and poses the question: can inorganic materials be considered as life forms if they can respond to external stimuli? This project aims to inspire a new perception of non-living substances, and contribute to an ongoing philosophical debate on the nature of life and the relationship between the animate and the inanimate.

The work employs a digital-analog generative system that allows luminous powders and the sonic landscape to evolve together, freeing matter from its passive role. The sound is composed around the sonic textures collected from the material utilising a granulator and generative algorithm, directing the powders to move. Meanwhile, a live image recognition program employs particle behaviours to modulate the sound. Each element performs in response to the changes of the other, giving rise to a complex and dynamic system that challenges conventional notions of causality and interactivity.

This piece features a live moving image and a unique quadraphonic system where the four sound channels are splitted into a quad of transducers and monitor speakers. Through the immersive audiovisual experience, viewers are enveloped in a sonic haze that blurs the boundary between their individuality and the surrounding spatio-temporal structure. As the sound energy from the installation permeates their bodies, viewers are able to experience the vibrational environment in a manner akin to the non-living powders. This experience challenges traditional hierarchical perspectives and allows viewers to appreciate the power and agency of the non-human material world.

In collaboration with Ke Peng

The MYcorrhizal installation at IRCAM forum
The MYcorrhizal installation at IRCAM forum
2023, MYcorrhizal - HD Live Moving Graphics, Six-channel Sound, Projection, Transducers, Monitor Speakers, Plywood, Printed Fabric, Conductive Thread, Cardboard, Carbon Dioxide Sensor, Infinite Duration
A graphic score generated by the mycelium bio-electrical impulses and the CO2 level in the exhibit space

MYcorrhizal is an extended-reality sonic experience mapping an interconnection between mycelium and beings. A duet of worlds between data signals, entities and scales of existence. Audiences can encounter and influence the sonic ecosystem around them, and reflect upon their role in the acoustic ecology of the spaces we exist within.

The installation is inspired by the mycorrhizal bridges that exist within the forests of our Earth; connecting root, mycelium, and organism, enabling the recourse distribution of data, nutrients and memory. Visitors are invited to consider the ways we can become consciously entangled within these worlds. In what ways do we as beings already influence the worlds that exist around us? What traces do we leave behind? Through sound we can traverse temporally to worlds and species that on our human scale are seemingly invisible. Through revealing the acoustic ecologies around us and hearing the effects our traces leave, can we form our own mycorrhizal connections?

Presented at the centre is a quadraphonic sonic sculpture, emitting fragments of an ecosystem combined with mycelium electrical spiking activity collected by Professor Andrew Adamatzky*. A global soundscape surrounds taking the sonic data of the ecosystem, the mycelium impulses and the live tracking of CO2 levels in the exhibit space to produce an evolving, learning, sonic landscape. By employing machine learning to integrate these different data sources, the generative soundscape is transformed by the passive and active interactions of the audience, including their breath and touch on the textile. The piece utilises spatialisation not only as a compelling storytelling tool but as a way to extend the reality of the generative ecosystem demonstrated.

* FUNGAR. (2021). Datasets of recordings of electrical activity of substrates colonised by oyster fungi P. ostreatus and P. djamor. [Data set].

In collaboration with Laura Selby & Devanshi Rungta

Time-flux installation with 4 transparent LG OLED screens
2022, Time-flux - 4-layer Transparent OLED Display and 4-Channel Sound Installation, Synthesise, Infinite Duration
Snapshots of generated visuals

Time-flux is a generative audio-visual installation reimagining the form of time as a free flux of chaotic experiences, inspired by Henri Bergson’s concept of duration.

Since modern time-keeping technologies emerged, humanity has created an artificial time environment punctuated by mechanical contrivances and electronic pulses. Obligated to live within the standardised time system has become a common struggle. How could one ever equal ten seconds of delights to ten seconds of suffering? Henri Bergson addresses this problem with the idea of duration (durée), which focuses on the overlooked experiential dimension of time. He describes the form of time as “a bottomless, bankless river, which flows without assignable force in a direction which could not be defined.” 

In the same spirit, the work captures the fluidity and chaoticity of subjective experiences of time. The installation features 4 layers of transparent OLED display and a 4-channel sound collage. The fluid particles on the screens act as snapshots of the virtual entity of time. Benefiting from the transparent OLED display from LGD, the generative shapes can pulse through the space at various paces, creating an experience of flowing continuum between screens. The sound collage utilises granular and time-stretching audio processing to recreate the distortion and non-linearity experience of time perception. The core of the work is a probability system of controlled chaos, created by modular synthesisers and a computational algorithm based on the Lorenz system. It sends combinations of constantly morphing signals to influence the visual and sound generation, resulting in drifting visual and sonic outcomes.

Time-flux is our existential anthem to the overlooked experiential dimension of time beyond mechanical measurements. It is also our call for humans to look at time in another way and rethink our relationship with it.

In collaboration with Jiajing Zhao

(My contribution: visuals & creative coding)

More info about the project