On September 25, 2014, Alfred State had the opportunity of to view Wenhua Shi’s work in his gallery, Night Song.
Originally aspiring to become a doctor, Shi found himself infatuated with media. From radio to television stations, Shi had found his calling and is now a professor at Colgate University, in the department of Art and Art History. Like most artists, Shi expresses the emotions that scatter throughout his phyche through art. Personal depth such as his childhood and his family life in China play a huge role in the art he creates and is apparent in many of his videos.
Most of Shi’s work revolves around the time based category. Two of his time based works really caught my eye. The first one is entitled Descending a Staircase. The basis of the work followed a young woman down a few flights of stairs with blurry visuals. This work didn’t catch my eye in a physical aspect, but more in a mental aspect. I was more confused of why this piece was the way it was and how it was shot. Through research, I later found out that Descending a Staircase was originally made to pay homage to Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase. I also found out that the footage was taken through the use of a steadicam, which is a lightweight mounting to keep the camera steady throughout the filming process.
The second piece that caught my eye at the Night Song gallery is Singing to the Sky. This work caught my attention due to the interactive nature it possessed. It functions with the use of a microphone. When sound waves are detected, a combination of Chinese and English words and/or characters come to view. The amount of Chinese and English characters depend on the strength of the sound wave. This work is popular because it’s just one of the many examples of how much technology has progressed.
Although most students see this gallery as “just an assignment,” the Night Song gallery does have relevance to the DMA program. Not only does the gallery have clear media usage throughout the pieces, but there’s a creative aspect as well. Shi stretches the limits of creativity in his pieces. In Singing to the Sky, he pushes the creativity of media by not only making a work that collects sound waves, but it’s interactive, allowing others to truly experience art. Descending a Staircase emphasizes the power of recreating something to make it better and/or more technological. Shi’s gallery works illustrates how and why we should continue to do what we are doing.
Why? Because art is a passion. With art, our limits are endless and we can create anything our mind allows. How? Through determination and hard work. Sounds a bit cliche, however, it is true. Innovative work such as the works produced by Shi do not create themselves. They are created through the willingness of the mind. If the mind is willing to stretch and expand, then innovative work will come, in time.