Date of Submission

Spring 2020

Academic Program

Studio Arts

Project Advisor 1

Ellen Driscoll

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Architectural space is political.

The project is composed of multiple paintings connected by a wooden scaffold built to resemble the urban landscape. The paintings depict quotidian architectural spaces, presenting the typology of functional public spaces, ranging from the zoo and the courthouse to the library, the church, and the bus stop. Their physical characteristics reflect the culture, values, and governmental tactics of modern states, functioning as control techniques to regulate our social actions within the realm of normality. For example, in the painting about the classroom, the even distribution of desks with the same size reveals that academic institutions' role of training students' mind to be relatively uniform; meanwhile, in the painting about the church, its symmetrical design with an extremely high ceiling displays the religious space's intention of constructing sacredness through creating impressive visual effects. Presenting those spaces in an abstract and minimalist form, I yearn to inspire audiences to interpret the spatial power dynamics in the paintings as they walk through the installation.

While each painting represents a specific space, my project concerns the urban, social, and political systems that uphold all those spaces. The wooden scaffold that connects all the paintings, on one hand, resembles the ubiquitous grid in urban planning, and, on the other hand, projects a field condition, which is defined by the urban theorist Stan Allen as "any formal or spatial matrix capable of unifying diverse elements while respecting the identity of each." This network of architectural space challenges audiences to view individual spaces in the context of a system, realizing the connections and relations among diverse elements and discursive agencies.

As I experienced the COVID-19 outbreak while I working on the project, I reviewed its theme as a response to this pandemic. The damage of COVID-19 is not only harming individuals or any specific social component, but it is also harming the whole system that concerns everyone and every social component, including our stock market, medical system, and academic institutions. The cause of this damage is the failure of international cooperation in planning a systematical response coming from different fields. The European Union's failure to help Italy at its beginning stages of contamination contributed to the unchecked spread of virus to the whole continent. The failure of many national governments to act upon scientists' warnings caused the later disaster. The lack of international cooperation for a general defense strategy when the WHO and China warned other countries the danger of COVID-19 allowed the global pandemic.

My project shares with the audience the value of viewing individual objects or events as parts of a system. For example, the actions that a single government or field take during the Covid-19 outbreaks can cause butterfly effects that affect many other states and fields, since they all connect to each other through a multidimensional system. Similarly, classrooms, libraries, and churches are not isolated places; instead, they exist within certain political structures and influence one another. As the audience views the paintings of various architectural typologies, they also see the structure and the joints that connect them all. Thus, we could mirror this way of perception to our political, cultural, and social realm to reveal the skeleton hidden under our knowledge.

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