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Huanzhe Hu

Climate Crisis, Installation, Video, Anthroposcene


Drifting Records

Drifting Records, Huanzhe Hu, 2023. Ice, concrete, electronic components. 1 m × 1.08 m × 0.83 m x 0.9 m.

"Drifting Records" is a site-specific sound installation, the body of the installation will be similar to a record player, only it can be used to play pancake ice – a stunning natural phenomenon: fragile circular discs with raised edges that form when water freezes as fragments of ice flow and rotate with the currents. This installation restores to an extent the sound created by the delicate collision and rotation of the pancake ice during their formation.


Calling, Huanzhe Hu, 2022. Site-specific sound installation, Ice. Dimensions Variable.

Through the installation "Calling," the artist has created a unique auditory experience that serves as an emotional bridge between the marshland and its avian inhabitants. Constructed entirely from ice, this tide-driven sound installation resembles an ice cap that has formed on a stone in a riverbank. If this stone were to sink to the riverbed, the air surrounding the holes in the ice cap would be compressed or drawn in as the water flows.

Artist Interview

Q: In this new edition of the UAAD online magazine, we're exploring the theme of "[Matrix] of the [Not-Yet]." How would you interpret these two words, and how do you see your work aligning with the concepts of [Matrix] and [Not-Yet]?

In my artistic practice, I perceive this matrix as a tapestry of shifting impersonations. In this dynamic matrix, the traditional narrative of human identity is revealed as an antiquated façade, concealing a reality that is simultaneously more nuanced, profound, and intricate than previously perceived. Instead of placing humans at the center of my work, I focus on non-human life and modalities of empathy, exploring the coevolution of objects, species, and space.

This exploration is deeply connected to the concept of [Not-Yet]. It reflects a continuous process of discovery and coevolution, where the boundaries between human and non-human blur, and new perspectives emerge.

Q: We are very interested in the trajectory of your creative practices and their connection to the theme. Could you provide us with a little more information about your background?

I entered and solidified my identity as an artist by completing my MFA in Digital + Media from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2023, after earning my BFA degree from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, China, with a focus on Art and Technology. During my undergraduate years, I explored various mediums driven by curiosity, including installation, experimental film, photography, and sound. It wasn't until the second semester of my junior year that I realized art and technology were the ideal directions for my interests.

During my time at RISD, I frequently created site-specific installations and engaged in interdisciplinary collaborations with scientists, meteorologists, biologists, and software developers. My research primarily focuses on how technology, particularly sound-related technologies, can serve as an interface for humanity to communicate and empathize with the non-human world. This creative path continues to shape my current practice.

Q: The creators participating in this magazine work across various mediums, including moving images, interactive installations, music composition, etc. What factors influence your choice of medium for your works?

I always start from a specific vision or curiosity about something. For example, my work often stems from a simple wish: to revitalize the intangible, visualize the imperceptible, and give volume to the inaudible. The creative process is organic for me. I don't deliberately think about the medium attributes of a work in the early stages of creation. I often feel that the content and form of my work grow organically. Although I do have frequently used mediums, such as sound and site-specific installations, I always remain open to various forms. Many mediums in my work take on a hybrid form.

Q: How does your work reflect or actively engage with the cultural and social dynamics of your community or the communities you interact with? Are there elements in your art that seek to bridge, disrupt, or transform these dynamics?

My exploration delves into themes such as ecology, sustainability, and the societal impact of technology. Central to my work is the quest to instill empathy and nurture mutual understanding, bridging diverse perspectives and fostering dialogue between humans and non-human entities. Additionally, I frequently engage in site-specific installations, with a profound emphasis on the relationship between my creations and their surroundings. Inspired by local history, culture, and environment, I integrate these elements into my artworks to create a meaningful connection with the community and its heritage.

Q: What real-world strategies or methodologies do you employ in your art practice to manifest your visions of the future? How do these tactics serve as forms of resistance or intervention within the current socio-political landscape?

In my art practice, I employ several real-world strategies and methodologies to manifest my visions of the future. One key approach is interdisciplinary collaboration, where I work with scientists, technologists, and other artists to explore the intersection of art, technology, and society. By collaborating with experts from diverse fields, I gain insights into emerging technologies, scientific advancements, and social issues, which inform my artistic vision of the future.

Another strategy I use is research-based art-making. I conduct thorough research, gather data, and analyze trends to inform the conceptualization and execution of my artworks. By engaging with pressing issues and presenting alternative perspectives through my art, I aim to inspire conversations, raise awareness, and contribute to shaping a more inclusive, sustainable, and just future.

Q: How do you hope your work impacts its viewers or participants, particularly in terms of rethinking potential futures or alternate realities? Who do you perceive as your audience?

Through my exploration of site-specific installations that re-present natural occurrences, I invite viewers to consider the possibility that these installations could occur naturally without human intervention. This concept challenges the conventional understanding of art interventions in nature and prompts viewers to contemplate the vast space-time continuum and the infinite possibilities it holds.

Translation: I believe that my audience can be anyone interested in art, ecology and the future. I have always hoped that a part of my work can be intuitively perceived and emotionally resonant for viewers without the need for lengthy explanations, touching on a shared human experience.

Q: As a creator, what do you see as the threats or uncertainties we will face in the coming decade?

I see one challenge as the encroachment of artificial intelligence into realms traditionally associated with human creativity. However, this could potentially transform into a positive force by pushing artists to explore and emphasize aspects of creativity that are uniquely human, such as emotional depth, empathy, critical thinking, and introspection.

Q: What motivates you to continue creating as an artist?

My work stems from a simple wish: to revitalize the intangible, visualize the imperceptible, and give volume to the inaudible.

Q: Are there any theories, books, or artists you would like to recommend in your current areas of interest?

Dark Ecology by Timothy Morton.

Q: If you could possess a superpower, what would it be?

I wish I had the superpower to fly/An installation that plays spinning galaxies as if they were records.

About the Artist

Huanzhe Hu has always conceptualized the world as lacking a defined center. In her perspective, there is no singular species or inner voice steering its course. Her worldview is less anthropocentric, aiming to emphasize the imperceptible aspects through a poetic lens. Her current exploration with ice serves as an extension of an ongoing dialogue with this imperceptible realm. This dialogue revolves around the quiet yet profound interconnectedness of all things.

©2024 Underground Art And Design LLC | ISSN 2835-284X

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