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“梦蝶” (mèng dié, Butterfly Dream)
Medium: digital video feedback loop, live-feed video
Moltkerei Werkstatt, Cologne, Germany; ArtShare, Los Angeles
Born in 369 BCE, Chinese philosopher, Zhuangzi, wrote a poem titled Butterfly Dream. In the dream, he became a butterfly. Upon waking up, he realized he was still the same physical self. He then questioned whether it was Zhuangzi who dreamt of a butterfly, or a butterfly dreamt of Zhuangzi. In physics, as a property of chaotic systems, the butterfly effect describes small changes in initial conditions leading to large-scale and unpredictable variation in the future state of the system. The effect depends on an iteration action that infinitely feeds its past into its present. Our existence seems similar. We are caught in an infinite loop of traveling into the past by recalling memory and then immediately turn around and travel back to the present using this memory to fabricate new reality, only to find out that the present has just become the past. In the installation, this process is articulated by a video projection of a camera looking at its own projection. Viewers are invited to interfere with the projection light by playing with or walking into the projection. Any change in what the camera sees is captured and manifested into dramatic visual changes in the video projection.