WANG YIRAN

TITLED

Installation

Motor, Paper, Wood

2022

An installation about “Emotion Studies” focuses on the figurative expression of negative emotions. By abstracting and mechanizing the gesture of poking, circulating, and squeezing using paper and motor, the artist reveals the fragility and Irreversibility of paper as a metaphor for human emotion.

How to describe negative emotions and feelings? What is depression? What is numbness? What is hopelessness?…… Expressing abstract feelings seems uneasy as we haven’t fully understood human emotions. But somehow, that is the reason we are human beings. We seem to have stronger memories of painful experiences than happy ones. The amygdala helps us encode when, where, and how it happened and the feelings in our minds. Emotional distress usually builds up in ways that negatively affect someone’s life, which may become permanent and incurable in certain instances. 

The pain pointed out here is not something in a body part; instead, it is a subjective experience of a human being. Pain is considered the privacy of its owner because no one can genuinely feel and access their pain like one’s own. However, sometimes our perception of the external environment triggers our subconscious to remind our past painful experiences and feelings. Therefore, the artist tries to simulate the influence of the external environment on the body’s sensation with the action of the machine on the paper as a method of emotional evocation.

She started this series project by recalling her awful experiences in high school. For her, pain is the most real feeling, and expressing pain through artwork is a process of healing and self-knowledge, an outlet for communicating. The artist is fascinated by building connections between human emotions, kinetic systems, and physical materials. She has been experimenting with various media, such as video, installation, and sound performance under this theme. In the first two attempts, she describes the struggle of breakdown and a sense of numbness through repetitive motions. 

The artist enjoys playing with paper as she believes that the materiality of paper is very similar to some of the characteristics of human beings. Blank paper is a unique medium for interpretation as its emptiness is not valueless or information-free but leaves an endless space for people to fill with imaginations and memories. The state in which the paper is applied with force shows a dynamic relationship between opposition and balance, order and chaos. Even with a tiny force change on paper, it can never go back to its original flat, just like pain fades away over time, but we will never forget it. Pain will always remind us of what we have been through and who we are.