Drawing with wind is a collaborative project between Ashley Yuqi Zhang and Hua Zhang, which examines the different factors that affect how we experience our surroundings. By questioning how to reach a state of understanding between humans, nature and technology, Ashley and Hua have brought technological mediation together with the uncontrollable influence of the weather.
Through a machine that detects winds speed and direction, Drawing with wind shows the artist attempting to co-operate with the apparatus. As the machine is fed fluctuating weather data, the robotic drawing board moves, rotates and wiggles in response to the live data.
By bringing these external elements into the making process, the act of drawing becomes collaborative, and the abstract marks recorded on the unstable surface create a visual representation of the invisible feeling of wind.
GIF of video stills
“Technology is a way of revealing, a mode of being concerning which we are questioning.”
Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology
The ever-changing characteristic of wind can also be seen as a reflection of current global uncertainties, whether this is in relation to climate breakdown or the social conditioning of algorithms and the increasingly monetised digital environment.
Taking inspiration from Martin Heidegger’s essay The Question Concerning Technology, Ashley and Hua consider how this uncertainty can create positive interactions through positioning Drawing with wind as an example of how you can coordinate exchange between people, machine and nature.
This suggests a positive future where it is possible to coexist with our surroundings, through finding a balance between our desires, built infrastructures and naturally occurring phenomenon.
For Digital Notes, Drawing with wind, was shown alongside two other video works in a Shorts Screening on Thursday 8 April.
To get a sense of the live programme check out our highlights on Instagram.
Video detail, close up of drawing board
Ashley’s work consists of everyday objects, edible materials, and familiar behaviours that creates moments of self-realisation for the viewer. Working with sculpture, performance, video and installation, she is interested in confounding the expected notion of our common sense. The adjustment of objects and behaviours in her work often acts as a source of surprise and absurdity, playing with people’s anticipation, provoking curiosity and causing us to doubt what we see and know. By applying time-based qualities and multi-sensory elements in her work, Zhang reflects the nature of ‘change’ and questions the meaning of ‘now’.
Ashley lives and works between London and Glasgow. She completed her BA (Hons) at Edinburgh College of Art in 2017 and received her MA at Royal College of Art, London in 2019.
Hua works with installations and moving images to investigate the vitality of nature. Using a variety of platforms including sound/video installation and kinetic sculpture, he explores how intentional actions shift when they encounter interference. By creating points of conflict and negotiations between man-made devices and natural principles, his works creates absurd interactions that show multiple perspectives. Through this approach, his work offers the chance to reconsider the relationship between human desires and our surroundings.
Hua Zhang studied printmaking at the Central Academy of Fine Art in China, and received his Master degree in Information Experience Design at Royal College of Art in the UK. He currently lives and works between London and Beijing.