Our project took place in multiple communal areas such as the parks, open space and on the street of central London, in which places I performatively interacted with communal facilities. Yumeng (my partner in Navigator Project) found objects and explore the visuality and functionality of indicative signage. However, I have a different approach when we research on one location — after the first time we have played with the equipment of a playground in the Westbourne Green Open Space, I have been investigating what our performative action reflects. Therefore, following that, I start to have serval experimentations of performance; I simultaneously read relevant books and Psychogeography theory to unearth the relationship between what I am experimenting and my concerning of the previous artwork.
Performance has historically linked to earlier body art. My body, in the initial investigation,
was used as a tool to experiment with situations and formats, as well as to signify movement that I enacted on the objects. I re-edited and experimented some videos (Rotating, Drifting and Repeating) that I filmed while urban wandering in Westbourne Green Open Space. Some public facilities of playground were involved in my videos, in which with those enthralling entertainment materials. Our body has played a significant role during interacting or playing with them. Alternatively, A kind of performance was happening when we were climbing on an oblique circular track, squatting on the “turntable,” rotating our body and hanging up myself on the “steering wheel”. I believe that the process of our playing on the playground involves some situation socially and politically even it merely is physical movement of repetition and rotation. Besides, the session of body practice in the second week evolved me into performative action. I was utterly immersed in the exercise of performance when I changed the position of my body, interactive with the objects (such as the chairs, desk, coffee cups and clothes) around the interior space. Everyone in that room were able to perceive each other without talking and enact different but harmonious movement simultaneously, creating sound with uniform beats. That is the power of performance that people can convey the information through a simple movement and perceive from their partner what to do next.
Navigator Critical Reflection
The definition of psychogeography is ‘the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organised or not, on the emotions and behaviour of individuals.’4 When art happens on societal space, artists place themselves as an element in this particular space, exploring and sculpturing their body. Practically, in my performative action of Hyde Park, Washing Me above the Well, I gained the water from a spherical drinking water equipment, taking cups of them and washing me above a well of the drain system. To transfer water, to wash my hair, to let the water drop into the well and to drink the collected water generated a connection between drinking system and the drainage through my body. Through a series of enaction, I underwent how to perceive the distance and object when I sculpturing myself. This is how Bruce Nauman presented in his performance, Walking in an Exaggerated Manner Around the Perimeter of a Square, regarding his body as a live sculpture.
After digging into the performing formats, I have a different awareness of institution can be any settings for enacted behaviours that can to challenge through re-imaging and re-playing. David Hammon’s work, Blizzard ball Sale6 helped me to understand the arbitrary value system of the art market and I share his concerns. The point of refusing the given rules of art’s game from Hammon reminds of other norms in society. For example, gender stereotype exists in China. In my earlier video, Squeezing and Wrapping depicted the difficulty of gender identity and expression in Chinese society. With all of the investigation in this project, I believe subversiveness attributed to performance is a powerful mean to subvert the convention of society.