Whitney Xu:

red text reading 'HERETHERE'
 
 
Whitney Xu
Media Arts & Sciences major
 
The main motivation behind my work is to create spaces for people to be curious, to play, and to work with each other. Our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter; our everyday lives are inundated with news of atrocities that we have no control over; our empathy for others grows less and less as we have more things to focus on in our individual lives. Art has always had to power to create social change, but its voice gets lost in the cacophony of our chaotic world, especially if we must engage with it in a passive way. Art in traditional museum and gallery settings invites careful observation from a distance, but no physical engagement. There is an inherent hierarchy in a museum-viewer relationship, with the viewer being below the institution. Recently, there has been a surge in popularity with interactive art in museums, but they are disturbingly rigid and limited in the ways the audience can actually interact with the art. My goal with public interactive art installations is to transform the viewer into a participant, and the work into something that cannot exist without the energy from its participants. I hope that my work can encourage people to slow down, connect with their bodies, and find ways to be generous with their time and energy.
 
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Belly of the Beast
textiles, audio, electronics
 
fabric jellyfish lit from within by very intense blue light, with a figure touching its tentacles
 
The experience goes something like this: a participant, or multiple, enters the room of the installation. The room is dark except for a warm orange flickering light emanating from the large cave-like structure on the ground. Above the structure hangs a jellyfish. Speakers in each corner of the room play sounds of crashing ocean waves, with sprinkles of a piano melody occasionally. Inside the cave, the floor is lined with ten pounds of stuffing and soft red fabric to imitate a tongue, and a glowing uvula hangs at the very end of the tunnel. As a participant crawls into the mouth of the fish cave, a distance sense inside the uvula captures the motion of the participant and activates the power for the jellyfish. A UV light inside the jellyfish turns on, instantly illuminating the outside scene in a flood of bright blue light. The jellyfish comes alive and new images are revealed under the UV rays. Crawling deeper into the fish also activates a different audio, which the participant can freely alter with their positioning. While inside the fish, one cannot see the newly revealed components outside, but other participants can enjoy the effects. This project aims to invite collaboration, curiosity, play, and vulnerability.
 
 
 
figures in dark space painting on themselves with neon paint that glows in black light
 
 
 
 
 
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