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A room with a grey concrete wall and a light brown wooden planked floor. In the room there are two young people, one male with black short hair, wearing a yellow t-shirt, black jeans and black trainers, he is standing next to a woman who has the same colour hair that goes down to her chin and she has a fringe. She is wearing a white dress with a black pattern which goes horizontally across the dress. The length of the dress is above the knees with no sleeves, she also has on plain black sandals. The two people are looking around the room and are looking towards a large object which seems to be a large toilet roll holder taller than the two people with toilet roll at the top. In the room there is also a dark brown table with 4 matching chairs, each chair has four black cushions. There is a small open fridge on the floor plugged into a white wall socket ad there seems to be pieces of paper in the fridge. In the coroner of the room there is a tall plant sitting in a blue plant pot, there is a sculptured head in the pot, the sculptured head looks like the woman in the room and is connected to a large worm like tale, it sits in the plant pot. At the back of the room there is another mental frame similar to the toilet roll holder but is wider and looks more like a coat rack.

'r u happy to be alive' : Exploring digital and performance practice in the kitchen studio

Written by Gina Lampen
Published date 14 August 2020

Third year BA Fine Art Sculpture student Yifan He’s practice comprises of coding, object-making, editing, and performing.

Currently living and working in London, Yifan’s studio space is now her bedroom, garden and even the kitchen where she uses everyday items to continue to make work.

During Yifan’s time working outside the normal studio environment, she has found that her practice has had to adapt to use more digital and performance-based mediums, moving her practice in unexpected directions such as creating web-based interactive artworks using Jarva Script and HTML language.

Here Yifan tells us more about her practice and her graduate submission which is featured in this year’s UAL Showcase

An abstract collage of grey, orange layered on top of each other with digital images of the sun and earch breaking through the grey.
Crazy Universe - BA Fine Art Sculpture, Camberwell College of Arts. - Credit: Yifan He Caption
Tell us about your current practice

“My practice comprises coding, object-making, editing, and performing. I recast, rearrange, and reconfigure materials such as electrical appliances, discarded pieces of furniture, and family event recordings, into clusters of cause and effect circuits.

“Through a multidisciplinary approach, the works address audiences as users, who dwell nostalgically in the  space between the physical and the virtual. Informed by my cross-cultural experiences, I explore the arbitrariness of the way we address and define lived experiences, of which the political is always inextricably mingled with the personal. The installations, at their grandest, are forced material poetry of which the meaning can never bypass the formality.”

A sculpture of a head, however the mouth and chin are missing. The sculpture looks like a baby with its eyes closed, the sculpture has tears dropping from its eyes. The head is being held at the top by the hand of the model and is against a plain beige background
Cry Baby Head, Forced Poetry. - BA Fine Art Sculpture, Camberwell College of Arts. - Credit: Yifan He Caption
How have you adapted your practice for working outside of the studio ?

“To adapt my practice I explored the digital tools such as adobe Dreamweaver, p5.js creative programming platform and possibilities of making edible sculptures in the kitchen such as word jellies and edible paper. It has been an adventure to try and blur the line of creating art and creating everyday objects and spectacles”

A digital enhanced hand, being reflected causing a symmetrical pattern. Hand looks closed, with the fingers touching and is against a white plain background
Picnic in the Garden - BA Fine Art Sculpture, Camberwell College of Arts. - Credit: Yifan He Caption
Tell us about your submission for the Graduate Showcase

“I submitted a work in progress “r u happy to be alive”. It has a very crude and artificial quality. The work in progress is honest and random and it is set to single out the paradoxes of nostalgia and forgetfulness, intelligence and confusion, arbitrariness and creativity, which are all situated in  technological possibilities.

In developing this project, I’m exploring deep fake technology and motion tracker. The work is a video collage using materials such as family photos/recordings produced in an era when internet and media were clumsy objects instead of intellectual extensions of human bodies, interviews with artificial intelligent, TED talk on promoting weird selves, and information about schizophrenia”

Lastly, it's been a difficult few months. Do you have any advice for students during this time ?

“I would suggest that creatives should make full use of the digital tools and open source resources in developing their practices during this time. But meanwhile, we have to think critically about art and technology in terms of the disparity it creates and how can we provide accessibilities to a broader audience.”

See more of Yifan’s work at the UAL Showcase

Interested in studying BA Fine Art Sculpture at Camberwell College of Arts? Click here to find out more

Click here to check out Yifan’s webpage.