Lost Seconds – Fang Lu

Fiona He

How often do we find ourselves in a crowded room completely absorbed with “showing-off” in cyberspace via our electronic devices instead of speaking to the person next to us? As much as social media - the platforms of communicating information, or specifically, self-expression has become increasingly ubiquitous, its effectiveness remains questionable, and the content expressed becomes increasingly vacuous. Fang Lu’s two video works, Bump’n’Grind and Cinema for her latest solo exhibition “Lost Seconds” at the Boers-Li Gallery, suggests a melancholy due to one’s ambiguous sense, or the lost of identity in an isolating social environment due to the ubiquity of social media, while the construction and perception of the self through the social media that is no longer channels of communicating information, validates the self and its existence.  

Bump’n Grind, is a processed footage of live video of a dance competition that Fang Lu has organized in 2006 in a dimly lit San Francisco nightclub. The dance couples performed what they considered the “sexiest” moves while knowing that they were being recorded live. The voyeuristic perspective of this video taps into the existence and varied perceptions of our self-image, as it sets up the social apparatus.  

While the reception of our identity and self-image may require others’ validation, its construction and reinforcement is largely of our own doings. Unlike Bump’n’Grind, where the dancers had to collaborate and interact with each other to win the competition, Cinema focuses solely on the actions of a female protagonist as she takes on the role of the creator, producer and audience simultaneously in an empty theatre. The seven channels video installation depicts and highlights the emotional shifts of the protagonist as she undertakes such complex embodiment. In this 19 minutes video, the protagonist gives the impression of being accustomed to a state self-isolation who does not show any sign of struggle or make any attempt to exit. On the contrary, this isolation most likely offers her a sense of disturbed comfort. In particularly, the three large screens and the enclosed space created by installation of this work enhance a sense of self-infatuation and melancholy as the protagonist zooms in and out on the details of her facial expressions. Such behaviors further enforce a sense of self, while the content of the self remains empty just as the nature of her fleeting emotions. Moreover, the viewers are further reminded of the incommunicado of self as they are put into the position of the voyeur.  The Cinema as a setting of surveillance, moreover, reflects upon the social political circumstances in contemporary society, especially under the local conditions in China. Perhaps, one may associate the sense of isolation with the one-child policy instated in the late 1970s as a possible cause. At the same time, artist Fang Lu remarks on such conditions, her interest in presenting the effect on individuals within such circumstances is effectively conveyed. 

*Text originally published on Flash Art, Issue 295, volumn 47- 2014 March – April


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