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Variations on a Branching Sea is a multi-media project begun as a  writing project initiated by a  migrant worker constantly moving from short-term service gigs around the Pearl River Delta region in China where she encounters artificial beings, plants, stones, clouds, and gods.

This fictional world-building weaves a combination of local folk customs, myths, beliefs, current events, and geographical elements of the region. It looks at the phenomenon of migration and labor in the context of globalization, engaging with this untouchable reality through the power of fiction. 

We have been fed the dreams woven by globalization only to be woken up to its failures by the Covid 19 pandemic, the normalization of its effects, and the rise of conservatism throughout various parts of the world. Maybe it’s a chance for us to rethink these themes and weave a new web of interrelations between the self, our relations to other people, other entities, and the worlds in which we inhabit.

Multimedia installation, duration loop in every 26mins

She saw the Monkey! Inkjet print, 2023 (Photography using GANs generative image and real live plants.)

“She took a 40-hour boat ride to see the monkeys. The monkeys are very shy and flexible. It’s not easy to see this mythical beast, it’s all about their mood. They also like to play hide-and-seek with us like children. It is said that the more you see them, and the more you look into each other’s eyes, the better your luck will be in the coming year.”   

-- Voice-over in film Variation on branching sea

The "monkey" in this work is an image created by a generative adversarial network using artificial intelligence. It serves as the representation of gods in the project's story, lurking and roaming in the online world, multiplying and growing, and spreading the concept of gods in the spiritual world. The "monkey" can be seen as a mathematical creature, a model of life that thrives in regular soil. Although it has no physical entity, it exists and persists similarly to living things. In other words, living things are carriers of some sort of model life. Even non-living things like atoms and molecules follow specific patterns.

Here, living and non-living things, material and non-material things, can be viewed equally, with each annihilating the other and the self.


The "monkey" gains a physical entity through image printing technology. It is placed in a natural background, digitally photographed, and transformed into data along with other physical objects. Finally, the actual work is printed as a photographic work with a physical body or presented on the screen as part of the overall image. The "monkey" represents the reality of life in this model, which repeatedly changes throughout this process. The perception of reality, life, and death depends on the methods and angles of viewing and feeling.

Plants don’t care about humans Inkjet print, 2023

Grinding sesame Sound installation, 2023

"She is the second wife of her husband. Her husband's ex-wife probably died of illness or divorced for other reasons. But she has a mean mother-in-law. When she was young, she couldn't bear the anger of her husband's family, so she went to Hong Kong with her sister. This photo was taken in a photo studio in Hong Kong. When she went back to her hometown to visit relatives, her husband hid her passport and she could not go to Hong Kong anymore, so she could only stay in her hometown. Later, she gave birth to her eldest daughter, named "Shi Duo", which means "Knowing you are superfluous!". The second daughter is named "Yuehui", which means "the sun and the moon are proof, I will still come back. The names of the two daughters are her confrontation and dialogue with her mother-in-laws. In addition to her two daughters, she has three sons whose names need to be taken from the genealogy. "

In the opportunity of the research in the Pearl River Delta region, Li Youcai's daughter provided this photo and this interesting story. It must be said that You Cai is an interesting, complex, and contradictory character. Among Chinese rural women in that historical period, she was bold and stubborn, and her resolute departure was not a practice that every woman dared to try. At the same time, she is also using the details of the life she can touch, the name of the child (daughter), a long-term symbol, and a frequently used life vocabulary, to talk to her mother-in-law, a party who does not have the real power of the patriarchy but is the implementer of the system. confrontation. On the other hand, and also a question that puzzles me, how did she respond after her passport was hidden by her husband? Did she do anything to resist? Why did she choose to stay in the end? A copy was stolen and hidden Is her passport really the real reason she stayed?

Curiosity about Li Youcai's story and life experience is the driving force behind this project. Rather than recording, restoring, and elaborating, I prefer to imagine and rethink the issues I am interested in with reconstructed stories.

Li Youcai's migration is a common social life pattern in the Pearl River Delta. She roams between the countryside and the city, the opposite inland and the coast, reflecting the changes and reorganization of the internal population and culture here. But this project will not be a documentary that reproduces individual experiences. Li Caiduo is a starting point, a clue, and a reference. We hope to create a fictional "she", "she" may be a possibility of Li Caiduo, "she" may also be me, "she" may also be "she". The "she" I see now is just a fork in the trail.

Screen shot from video in the project

Screen shot from video in the project

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