Welcome to Suzhou, Interactive Video Installation, 2005-6.
Video Documentation with voiceover commentary by Liz Munsell, Curator of Contemporary Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Published by ASPECT: The Chronicle of New Media Art, 2011
Pedaling on a bicycle in the gallery powers a video projection of cyclists in Suzhou China.
Welcome to Suzhou is a looping interactive video installation, a moving landscape, interested in how we envision ourselves in the larger global economy. When the visitor enters the dark gallery, a bicycle waits for them to climb on. When the visitor begins pedaling, the projection begins. Bicyclists in Suzhou China (a small city for China, pop. approximately 10 million, west of Shanghai) appear on the wall in front of them, riding directly toward the gallery rider. The faster the visitor pedals, the faster the bicyclists in the video approach. When the rider slows down or stops pedaling, the projection also slows or stops, and goes dark.
This piece was made after a research trip on a travel grant to China in 2005. I was struck by the lack of interaction I was able to have with people while traveling in China. There was pantomiming for basic needs, but mostly a lot of staring at me and people wanting to take a picture with me. I wanted to make a piece that required engagement between the visitor and the people in the video, with viewing contingent on participation. And, in the end, after riding for a while looking into the faces passing during a busy rush hour, more than seeing the other, we can see our everyday selves – young men, mothers and teenagers – tired and rushing to get home at the end of a busy day.