“Full of Empty”

My Contract:

For ten days, from November 18th, 2021 to November 27th, 2021; Every day, I would choose one material to fill the canvas from empty to full. The following day’s action starts from the end of the previous day. When I finish the ten days, there should be ten layers of different materials on top of each other. The duration of each day may vary. The process will be captured by a webcam from an overhead view. My action will be live streaming on my Facebook and the recordings will also be saved locally on my computer for archive purposes.

The webcam’s vision area determines the size of the “canvas.” The screen wherever the audience watches is the space I work with.

  • Day 1 – Sharpie marker on ricepaper – 2h 4m

  • Day 2 – Snow (no live-stream video because I forgot to press “Go Live”)

  • Day 3 – Cotton pads – 57m

  • Day 4 – Aluminum adhesive tape – 2h 18m

  • Day 5 – Masking Tape – 1h 27m

  • Day 6 – Oil Pastel – 3h 25m

  • Day 7 – Scratching – 2h 32m

  • Day 8 – Corn Starch – 24m

  • Day 9 – Ink – 2h 46m

  • Day 10 – Taper Candle


Something I wasn’t expecting:

  • Adding or Removing – When I wrote my pre-action contract, I thought I would only continuously ADD layers on top of each other. However, I then discovered there is also the possibility of removing it. For example, for Day 7(Scratching), I was scratching off the Oil Pastel from the precious day. This discovery expanded my underdtanding of “fill” the canvas.
  • Inheritability – Even though I was working with a new material everyday, it’s not just the move of adding/removing the material for that day. In a way, I was still working with the materials from the previous day(s) – the shapes, defined edges etc;. Examples like Day 2(Snow), snow melted and transformed into water, then absorbed by the ricepaper, blurred the brushstrokes from the previous day; The third day(Cotton pads), the wet cotton pads absorbed black ink, turns the white cotton pads to an uneven dirty colour; and the fourth day(Aluminum adhesive tape), I was using the edges defined by the previous day.
  • I have never felt rushed when I was doing it.
  • The process of sourcing materials was a joy during the ten days. My mind was always “ON.”

What experiences I wanted to provide to the audience:

I imagine that the audience would use a spare monitor or mobile device like an iPad. They click on one of the videos, put it on full screen, then leave it aside. Then they do their own stuff – cooking, watching a movie, cleaning, doing work out or just wandering their mind around. They would occasionally check on the video, for a few seconds or a couple minutes when they, for example, walk around and happen to pass by the playing device. They check on the progress of my empty to full, then have a sense of time passing. My action is there, like people used to put radios on, just as a background sound, just act as a kind of accompany, it can be there, but not necessary – through my action, I seek for low-attachment interaction with the audience – what I do or how I do the action is only important to myself but not something important to the audience, it suppose to be unimportant – there is no big surprise – you know what’s coming! It’s also like the clock on the wall, here and there, you check on time.


Related project from the past: https://gaoyujie.me/2020/12/02/performer-of-december/