Directions of the Tide（我们终将改变潮水的方向） is a design project and artwork as a metaphor, questioning the relationship between individuals and the society they live in. Using the river and the tide as a metaphor, challenging the idea of "live the way as the majority does" in modern Chinese society.
Should we go with the "flow" like everyone else, or gather the force together, change the "directions" of the "tide"?
Background & Inspiration
The Ineffaceable Identity of Mine - A Chinese
I always tell people my name is "Michelle" rather than my Chinese name "Yufei雨霏". My Chinese name is not hard to pronounce, and easier to write than "Michelle", but why I still use Michelle?
I guess to some point, I want to be more "involved" to the new environment: I move all around the world, live so far away from my family in Beijing, switching between different cities that are so unfamiliar to me like Bath, London, New York, and Vancouver. I guess I wish I can adapt to the new environment faster with that name, and feel less "foreigner" although I am exactly a foreigner in those countries.
People are surprised when they heard I'm from China coz I use the "Michelle" name and speak fluent English. I guess, I wanted people around me to feel that way; I guess, I try to behave like I was born and raised in the west to have equal chance of employment and promotion with my cohort by knowing the western culture when I don't want to lost the chance again just because I'm a foreigner; I guess, from the bottom of my heart, I wish I was born and raised in the western countries rather than China; I guess, I want to feel more involved in all the unfamiliar countries I've lived; I guess, I tried to dissolve all the "Chinese" parts in me, when I date boys are not Chinese, when I listen to Coldplay and Oasis rather than Chinese songs, and when I read and watch so many western novels and movies without even realizing I don't even know what's the most popular movie nowadays in China, as my own culture.But I can never deny and erase my identity: I am a born-and-raised Chinese, from the way I was educated and I was raised. And begins to be proud of my identity and where I come from. Like I still always prefer drinking hot water rather than ice water.
From the very first time, to this very last project of mine as an Art student. I want to present an artwork that I don't have to worry about whether it will be understood by my western profs. and classmates; I want to end my student life with a project I can be proud of, and can be memorable by the audience; I want my multimedia works are no longer just a instagrammable piece but something people and walk away with thoughts in their minds; I want to tell them the story and the way I was educated and how I grew up, in an eastern way.
The Metaphor "我们终将改变潮水的方向"
Back in college, I worked as a part-time editor for a magazine (新周刊), one time a new book (《我们终将改变潮水的方向》) by the editor-in-chief of a popular Chinese online journal The Fair (新世相) caught my attention. The title of the book can be translated as "Together, we can change the directions of the tide.", expressing an idea of keeping our own ways of living but not following the majority blindly.
In the Chinese society where I grew up, seems everyone has been complaining about the surrounded society and the fast-paced lifestyle, but we're all trying to adapt the society and keeping complaining about it, not changing it.
One of the differences from human-being and animal is human can change the surrounded environment they live, but animal only can adapt to the environment. Are we only able to follow the trend powerlessly, like a drop of water in the tide, or can we gather the strength together, can change the directions of the "tide"?
A shared experience
Directions of the tide allows max 6 ppl in the installation space. When they scattered in different positions in the room, the "tide" flows as the way it is. When they are in the same area in the space, the tide will turn into that direction, and the color will change as well.
Visual & Interaction Development
Wonderland & Infinite
Inspired by teamLab's visual design style, I rendered the "tide" as linear particles in TouchDesigner. The "tide" is built upon a GPU particle system, and used a Kinect sensor getting the position data of up to 6 participants. The use the data as the "force" applied to this particle system.
Testing & Prototypes
Documentation from the Live Performance