Moving image is a common style employed by media artists in video art when adopting a social commentary role within their works. Artists such as Yuan Goang-Ming, Yang Yongliang and Santiago Sierra collectively utilised digital techniques such as drones, stop motion and layering respectively to criticise the contemporary social fabric within their external milieus.
Fig 1 & 2: ‘Landscape of Energy’ (2014) Photographs from Video Installation
Artist Yuan Goang’s Mings states the intent behind his works as generally focusing on challenging and critiquing the typical “take-it-for-granted attitude” of people within society today. His work ‘Landscape of Energy’ (2014) employs drones to achieve slow aerial and long distance takes of the Taiwanese coastland, panning across the ocean towards a disconcertingly abandoned playing field and beach, filmed after the earthquake off the north-east coast of Japan in 2011, which led to the virtual destruction of the Fukushima nuclear power station. The camera frames a long shot of domes from a nuclear power plant in the background, foreboding the potential of a catastrophic outcome before filming people seemingly oblivious on the beach in the foreground. The last segment of the piece previews the camera drifting towards an abandoned village with the jungle growing over houses, reminding the audience that life is futile whilst simultaneously alluding to the potential chaos that could ensue in our environment if we do not change anything in the world we live.
Fig.3: ‘Phantom Landscape’ (2006), Photograph from Moving Image Video
On a grander scale artist Yang Yongliang addresses current social issues through creatively altering a traditional setting by including aspects of contemporary living. On first glance of the work, it appears to be a traditional Chinese ink painting, yet on closer inspection, we are able to identify the mountains as layered slabs of concrete, and skyscrapers; as well as the entire foreground of the work appearing to be an urban cityscape. The artist creatively juxtaposes a calm sanctuary by involving aspects of a chaotic city setting. By contrasting the two settings, the artist is able to cleverly convey social issues such as pollution and over urbanisation through softwares such as photoshop and layering video footage. The artist’s use of Media art in the work is almost undetected, The video conveys the slow cars crawling along the front of the work as well as the lightning drawing attention to the clouds of smog and pollution featured in the background. whilst Goang-Mings works focus on exposing the individual self-orientated arrogance of his society, Yongliang addresses the broader toxic consumerist attitude maintained by the collective Chinese culture over the individual.
Fig.4-5 ‘Destoryed Word’ (2010), Photographs from Video Installation
Similarily Santiago Sierra work entitle ‘Destoryed Word’ (2010) seeks to interrogate the economic, social and political subject that it represents through an aesthetical means. The video installation concerns the ‘anti-production within production (..)’ that characterises the capitalist system on the whole. Featuring a split-screen image of 10 letters spelling the word “KAPITALISM” in colossal physical form. After commissioning the construction of the letters in varying cities across the world (to communicate a global message) from materials of local importance, they are destroyed by the same labourers, an act that is looped in the film.
Goang-Ming, Yongliang and Sierra’s works collectively address the pressing issues/attitudes engendered by their surrounding societies to effectively encourage the audience to question and reflect on their current behaviours, attitudes and values.
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Archambault, Pauline. “Foregrounding a Contemporary Mode of Realism: The Work of Santiago Sierra.” Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. University of Cincinnati, 2014. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 27 Oct 2016.
Pang, M.A. (no date) Yang Yongliang phantom landscape. Available at: http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/essay/yang-yongliang-phantom-landscape/ (Accessed: 18 August 2016).
Huang, E. (2012) Yang Yongliang brings Chinese landscape painting into the 21st century. Available at: http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/blog/yang-yongliang-brings-chinese-landscape-painting-into-the-21st-century (Accessed: 19 August 2016).