By Kat Outten, MAVA Fine Art Digital, Camberwell
"Drawing can be a very simple and effective method of communication" - Yu-Chen Wang
As part of the DRAW reading group led by the Post-Grad Community we had the pleasure to welcome artist Yu-Chen Wang, a London based artist from Taichung, Taiwan. Her practice primarily focuses on drawing, where her work treads a delicate line between control and chaos- she does not do any preparatory drawings, instead opting to sketch straight from her head. Combining her drawings with props, lighting and various structures to create immersive multimedia exhibitions, her work is proof that drawing can exist outside of the paper it is drawn on. She blends her work with performance, as a way to organise people's movement without their knowledge within the exhibition space, and as a method to communicate with people.
Yu-Chen's work draws from a variety of sources; her interests span topics from theoretical physics, archaeology, and archives, to historical waterways and buildings in the many cities she has visited, and this variety of source materials reflects in her work. Her references include archival materials, draftsman drawings, and photographs. One project in particular that I found inspiring was the project We Aren't Able To Prove That Just Yet, But We Know It's Out There (2018-19), developed with Collide International Award, a partnership programme between Arts at CERN and FACT (2016-2018).
This project, in her words, was about "making the invisible visible", exploring "the abstract photographic images produced by the Bubble Chamber experiments in the 1960’s. Wang was fascinated not only about what they detected –the paths of short-lived electrically charged particles– but also the whole process which surrounded their documentation and interpretation." (excerpt taken from her website).
As part of this she spent six hours listening to a retired theoretical scientist explain particle physics, and it was this, as well as the variety of archival materials she collected and researched, that formed this project. She also spent a lot of time whilst researching talking and listening to current and former scientists, soaking up their knowledge to enrich herself and the project- she spoke of loving to learn, and this desire for knowledge as being a driving force behind a lot of her work. Her interest in the unseen labour behind most scientific discoveries mimics artistic practice, with many failed experiments, tests, and preparatory work culminating in a final presentation to the outside world.
I admired her dedication to learning about this complex topic, and the way she interpreted it has a very unique perspective- she combines her drawing with sound and video to create installations that absorb the viewer. I would love to have the opportunity to see the work in an exhibition space, as I feel that watching the video and seeing photographs in the lecture did not do it justice- it definitely needs to be experienced in its entirety.
Her work proves that art does not, and indeed should not, exist in a vacuum; that artists should be open to exploring other topics, and be able to take inspiration from anywhere. Being able to do this can make art much richer and we, as artists, should strive to connect with different people, and engage with everything we possibly can. Yu Chen Wang's is fundamentally about communication, and a desire to connect with others, and at her core Yu Chen is just a person seeking to communicate and forge genuine connections with people through art.