By Sydney Vogl
Growing up in China with musicians as parents, artist Yuge Zhou was constantly encouraged to follow her creative instinct. She took painting lessons, learned the basics of aesthetics and medium, and oh, she became the lead singer of one of the most beloved children’s TV shows in Chinese history. Even then, at such a young age, Zhou understood what she was meant to do — create. “The countless performances followed by the success of the show were a blur to me, but what always stayed in my heart was the overwhelming emotions that I’ve experienced being on stage.” Zhou currently lives in Chicago. Though her work now is vastly different than that as the singer of “Little Dragon Boy,” she still has the same goal — to connect with people through art.
Zhou’s art takes form of video collages and sculptural installations. Each video is one of a kind, graced with Zhou’s precise skill of capturing universal elements of a city or environment, while never straying from highlighting what makes our earth and its inhabitants so unique. “I’m still trying to figure out how we as individuals and as a collective group interacts and impact our environment and each other,” she explains, “The work investigates tiny slices of rituals, attitudes and pace playing out—there are patterns and similarities, but also great diversity.” The artist’s intense interest in humans and how they live within their environment drives every ounce of creation. And with the collaged footage projected on 3D installations, the visuals are unparalleled. With New Media as a collectable and advanced artform, Zhou’s distinct style and concepts take her to the forefront of a swiftly progressing movement.
Zhou views her videos as her form of a personal diary, capturing the little things she notices about her surroundings and highlighting them through edits and splices. “My process of creating video has two aspects. One is traveling to locations and collecting raw footage. Most of the time I go to these places without a particular mission or draw to seek out the most photographic view,” she says, “Second is editing, where I search for themes and events and interesting juxtaposition in the raw footage and assemble them into collages. There is always a rhythm to editing, both intuitive and logical.” Finding a way to aesthetically and logically assemble the videos are Zhou’s way of understanding the location more thoroughly.
Zhou’s work is reminiscent of the cultures she has heavily experienced — Chinese and American. While she is fascinated by the culturally diverse urban space in America and does most of her filming there, she continues to implement elements from her home country. “First of all, my work is meditative, rooted in Chinese philosophy that seeks to find the tranquility beneath the turbulence of daily life. Second, my aesthetics is influenced by traditional scroll paintings which always illustrate a compressed narrative, multiple events happening at the same time.”
In her next piece, Zhou is taking inspiration from The Big Apple. “I’ve been shooting a lot in New York subways lately for a piece that explores the concepts of banality and theatricality. I would like to try this as a floor projection relief as part of my solo exhibition in October in a gallery in Minnesota.”. She’s also participating in ArtPrize Nine in September, showing Midtown Flutter, a large video relief installation in Grand Rapids Art Museum.
Though Zhou exclusively faces the camera outward, allowing the viewer to make observations about society and humanity, it’s easy to feel her personal touch while watching her videos. “It’s a way that I experience life, it’s an outlet for my obsession. But also I’m interested in universal human condition. Rather than being hooked to a certain identity, I want to be a bridge.” She says, “It’s a profound and gratified feeling to have that connection with the viewership. Especially during this challenging time, I hope to create work as a positive reminder that we can coexist. Because we need that right now. Art has the power to be inclusive.”
You can keep up with Yuge Zhou and see where she is going next by visiting her website: http://yugezhou.com/.