At the age of five, Yuge Zhou 周雨歌 became a household name in China as the singer for 'Little Dragon Boy (小龙人)', one of the most popular children’s series in Chinese TV history. Yuge studied drawing under Chinese contemporary painter Kaixi Cui 崔开玺 and eventually moved into Video Art after earning her Master of Fine Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Yuge currently lives and practices in Chicago, IL, creating video collages and sculptural video installations that portray ‘urban dispositions’ and explore the complex interactions between humans and their environment. She also directs and curates the 3300-square foot 150 Media Stream, the largest new media and video art installation in Chicago. In addition to her MFA, Yuge holds a masters degree in Computer Engineering from Syracuse University.
Zhou has exhibited her work nationally and internationally including the Grand Rapids Art Museum; Elmhurst Art Museum; Spartanburg Art Museum; Zarya Center for Contemporary Art in Russia; Chicago Cultural Center; SIGGRAPH Asia in Kobe, Japan; Chicago Design Museum; Athens Institute for Contemporary Art (GA); Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn NY and ISEA 2016 in Hong Kong among many others. Zhou's work has also been featured in the New York Magazine; The Huffington Post, WGN News and Aesthetica Magazine. Zhou received the 2017 Santo Foundation Individual Artist Award.
A decade ago, I left my home in Beijing, where the rapid transformation of the urban landscape dramatically reshaped the city and people’s lives, and I came to America to begin an immigrant’s journey. From China to America, and from the east coast to the Midwest, I have become deeply intrigued with natural and constructed urban spaces that I’ve toured and lived—the distinctive characteristics of these spaces, and the collective idealism, attitude, and pace of the activities of their citizenry—which I find both familiar and mysterious.
The work originates from a simple desire to make people aware of and reconsider their relationships with their surroundings—both the physical and the psychological world they live in. With the camera acting as an extension of my viewing, I document the ‘untrained performances’ of everyday moments within their confined spaces and rearrange and assemble these documentations into collaged scenes that sometimes suggests an incomplete narrative fragment, an allegorical tale or a miniature stage to gaze upon, all with an unexpected sense of mystery, anxiety, joy or fear. This process of looking and altering helps me to distill and understand these spaces and their inhabitants, not without an impulse to poeticize and transform them into my own psychological universe of introspection and isolation.
The stationary shots of structural film, as well as the progression of time and space in traditional Chinese scroll painting have both inspired my work. The massive reconfiguration of the Beijing landscape throughout my young adulthood is also a lens through which the work develops. Most of all, the work comes out of the scenes that play out by chance in front of my camera. When these scenes aggregate, a rhythm emerges, an essential rhythm that in some way defines a place.
Moving around left me with a longing for a sense of rootedness and intimacy. In addition to using a macro perspective to portray public communities and environment, I am also interested in personal stories and spaces. My next series explores relationships between my family members in China and myself, within confined spaces and under the context of years of complete separation in which many immigrants find themselves.
My chosen medium of digital video has for me both an actual and physical aspect, while it remains fundamentally immaterial and ephemeral. It is a shape-shifting media that sometimes looks like a painting or a photograph, and at other times it can do science and philosophy. My installation is always comprised of both digital and physical components. One of the techniques I use is projection mapping onto relief panels, which enhances the framed glimpses of scenes as well as emphasizes the physicality of digital video.