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The development of industrial civilization and intelligent technology has greatly altered our relationship with nature, leading to a certain degree of alienation between humans and nature. Industrialization has significantly increased our demand for natural resources, while the advancement of intelligent technology has made us increasingly dependent on machines and automation. Artificial intelligence, by automating and optimizing workflows, intensifies our separation from nature as we increasingly need less direct interaction with the natural environment. Human intelligence, on the other hand, enables us to comprehend and manage complex real-world problems and to confront the alienation brought about by industrial civilization and intelligent technology.

With a surrealist perspective, I explore the world, attempting to peer through the facade of reality and unearth the profound meaning hidden beneath. In this series of my work, I shift my focus to the phenomena of artificial intelligence and natural intelligence, endeavoring to investigate their interrelationship and their interaction with our lives through the medium of art.


Artificial intelligence is our creation, reflecting the apex of our self-understanding and our imagination for the boundless possibilities of the future. However, concurrently, artificial intelligence instills deep unease within us as it not only challenges our traditional understanding of humanity and intelligence, but also threatens our control over the world.

Conversely, natural intelligence is our origin, rooted in our biological essence, forming the foundation for us to adapt and understand the world. Natural intelligence instills awe within us because its complexity and mystery far exceed our understanding.

In my work, I regard artificial intelligence and natural intelligence as two opposing yet interdependent forces. Utilizing surrealist techniques, I break the boundaries between reality and dreams, technology and nature, machines and living beings, creating a world that is both strange and familiar. In this world, artificial intelligence and natural intelligence are no longer abstract concepts, but entities possessing form and emotion. They are mirrors reflecting our desires and fears, as well as windows allowing us to glimpse the possibilities beyond ourselves and reality.

I hope my work will provoke thought among viewers, prompting us to reexamine our relationship with artificial and natural intelligence, as well as our place in this rapidly changing world. I believe that only by understanding and accepting the contradictions and complexities of these two types of intelligence can we find true balance and create a future that respects both technology and nature.

0d7a2c04aa38b379798d3123a22c221 - Yuzhe Yan.jpg



严瑜哲Yuzhe Yan(Ashley),2021年毕业于中国美术学院雕塑与公共艺术学院公共雕塑(场所空间艺术)。目前在加州艺术中心设计学院(ArtCenter)攻读纯艺硕士。

Yen Yuzhe  (Ashley), graduated from the School of Sculpture and Public Art, China Academy of Art in 2021 with a degree in Public Sculpture (Place Space Art). She is currently pursuing her MFA in Pure Art at the ArtCenter College of Design in California.

本次4C Gallery展出了严瑜哲最新系列作品《跃出幻境》,该系列聚焦于艺术家对于潜意识,以及梦境与现实二维联系的探索。在这个过程中,严瑜哲收集自己的梦境,试图捕捉那些在意识之外的部分。在那些意识边缘、外围甚至遥远的地方,可能包含着不会主动关注或思考到的思维、感情和记忆。

4C Gallery presents Yuzhe Yan's latest series of works, which focus on the artist's exploration of the subconscious and the two-dimensional connection between dreams and reality. In this process, Yan collects his own dreams in an attempt to capture those parts of himself that are outside of his consciousness. At the edge, periphery, or even far away, there may be thoughts, feelings, and memories that are not actively noticed or contemplated.


When you first enter the exhibition hall, you may be shocked by the strange, mysterious, and colorful scene, surrounded by all kinds of weird and wondrous creatures, not knowing how such strange images will cause the viewer's heart palpitations and curiosity: clowns with air-conditioned eyes gazing at something, monsters with long eyes, plants with human faces such as the trees in the tropical rainforests, and peculiar species of fairy-tale texture. Under the projection of fantastically colored images, the man finally has the opportunity to have colorful skin and then join to be part of the stage.


Man has never been capable enough to recognize his own subconscious mind, whether it is in present-day biology or psychology, and under the auspices of science, man has not been able to penetrate this secret passage but has only been able to try to peek into it. But these things outside of everyday life are not without significance; they are self-expressive in some unknown way and also speak a part of one's inner emotions instead. So all the discoveries in the dream world, the subtle things, the people, objects, and animals that don't exist in real life become the objects that Yuzhe Yan tries to transform. With such a strong will, those horror novels, myths, legends, and fables from her childhood memories intertwined with her dreams and eventually transformed into reality through her memories into her creations.



What surprised me most, however, was not only these marvelous imaginations and expressions, as well as the combination of installation art and video art. What surprised me the most was the sense of public expression in the private sphere, a sense of openness and exploration, an invitation and participation, a kind of entry, a sort of public discussion. Yan Yuzhe reveals a different type of emotional communication, which is difficult to be conveyed naturally by many artists who specialize in private narratives and creations. When I learned that the artist herself graduated from the Department of Spatial Art, I realized that this comes from her professional training in public space art, and from her grasp of the public sphere.



In such a public space, Yuzhe Yan builds an open space of imagination through her installation artworks with very private memories (even the stories of the artworks can only be told by her). It also makes us realize that the subconscious is laid out underneath all individual imaginations, emotions, behaviors, and experiences and becomes a kind of precursor of our connection to the world. And perhaps it is in the process of watching and transforming dreams that we are able to glimpse the self and the collective outside of the rules, forcing us to reimagine our connection to self and society.





Y:我觉得现实世界对于我来说,它是客观存在的,但它受到我作为宿主的潜意识的影响,其中包括信仰、情感、记忆和期望的影响。潜意识就像是我的心智中大部分时间都不完全意识到的部分,它涉及到我的记忆、情感、欲望、恐惧和已习惯的许多行为模式,就像我们的反应和情感都是由我们的潜意识驱动的。而这些潜意识内容可能会在我们的梦境中得到反映。在我看来,梦境就像是我潜意识的窗口,梦境中的情节和情感往往与我的潜意识有关:隐藏的恐惧、未完成的愿望或被压抑的情感等等。在这三者之间,他们具有固定的模式,但同时也具有不稳定的变化。比如在我的作品中,我会有意识地将这些潜意识通过“Body transformation”的方式,将出现在我梦境和潜意识中的不同元素并列。在改变他们自身意义的同时,创造出原本并不存在的隐喻和张力,就像我喜欢通过结合道具、服装和舞台布景来创造某种心理戏剧一样。

Q: In your eyes, how do you understand the relationship between dreams, reality, and the subconscious? Is it one set, multiple sets, or never stable? Talk about your exploration and think about the connection between them.

Y: I feel that the real world is objective to me, but it is influenced by my subconscious mind as a host, which includes beliefs, emotions, memories, and expectations. The subconscious mind is like the part of my mind that I am not fully aware of most of the time, and it involves my memories, emotions, desires, fears, and habits many patterns of behavior, just as our reactions and emotions are driven by our subconscious mind. And this subconscious content may be reflected in our dreams. To me, dreams are like windows to my subconscious mind, and the episodes and emotions in my dreams are often related to my subconscious content: hidden fears, unfulfilled desires, or repressed emotions, to name a few. Between these three, they have a fixed pattern but at the same time unstable variations. For example, in my works, I consciously juxtapose these subconscious elements in my dreams and subconscious through "Body transformation". While changing their meanings, I create metaphors and tensions that did not exist originally, just as I like to combine props, costumes, and stage sets to create a certain kind of psychological theater.




我热衷于使用我自己的身体并融入到我的作品中,我称之为“Body transformation”。所以我创造的这些角色经常发生身体变化或以身体变化的形式出现,而角色本身以无生命的物体、不太可能的生物组合或虚构的怪物等表现形式出现。身体被视为一个想象和开放的地方,由我的深层无意识产生。我通过这种方式,身体既成为转变的载体,也成为转变的象征,这是一个同时“进行”和“颠覆”性别的阶段。就像我非常喜欢的艺术家Matthew Barney的Creamaster系列作品,其中他通过创造作为人类内部体现的物理空间,赋予空间意识,把他角色的身体变成了无意识空间的傀儡。在他所居住的那个世界中,环境是清醒的,但是角色却不是。所以在另一种意义上,Barney也在这里找到了另一种自由。

在我所创造的那个性别空间里,我称之为“Purlieus”,在这里我们可以看到居住在我们概念或二分法之间的社会中看不见的物种以及性别(“Purlieu”一词来自于中世纪的英国法律,表示一个隐藏在众目睽睽之下的例外地方),它们是“共生”的,通过“Body transformation”,我所创造的角色经历了从搜索中诞生的转变,虽然它们失去了纯真,它们变得更强或更弱,但是只要它们改变,我就很开心。

Q: Many of the works in this exhibition come from childhood memories, memories that have been submerged in my consciousness for many years. What drove you to "materialize" them in the end? What kind of "symbiotic" relationship is there between the different installations, projections and paintings in this group of works?

Y: For me, childhood is an important period in my life, because many of my emotions, experiences and memories were formed during this period. As time passes, these memories are buried deep under my consciousness, but they are still there, influencing my emotions and behaviors as a teenager and even as an adult. Sometimes an event or stimulus in life may trigger one of these deep-seated memories. The stimulus may be a place, a person, a song or anything else. This sudden "trigger" actually gives me an opportunity for emotional release and healing, allowing me to create them.

I am passionate about using my own body and incorporating it into my work, which I call "Body transformation". So the characters I create are often physically transformed or take the form of a body transformation, while the characters themselves appear as inanimate objects, unlikely assemblages of creatures, or fictional monsters. The body is seen as a place of imagination and openness, generated by my deep unconscious. In this way, the body becomes both a vehicle and a symbol of transformation, a phase that simultaneously "performs" and "subverts" gender. As in the Creamaster series by Matthew Barney, an artist I like very much, he transforms his character's body into a puppet of unconscious space by creating physical space as the internal embodiment of human beings and giving it spatial consciousness. In that world he inhabits, the environment is awake, but the character is not. So in another sense, Barney finds another kind of freedom here as well.

In the gendered space I have created, which I call "Purlieus," we can see the invisible species and genders that inhabit our conceptual or dichotomous societies (the word "Purlieu" is derived from (the word "Purlieu" comes from medieval English law and denotes a place of exception hidden in plain sight), they are "symbiotic", and through "Body transformation", the characters I have created undergo a transformation born out of search. They lose their innocence, they become stronger or weaker, but as long as they change, I'm happy.



Y:首先,我认为尽管每个人的经历都是独特的,但人类的基本情感和心理反应很大程度上是相似的。就像恐惧、爱、孤独、欲望、失落等是人类共有的情感。我在私人叙事中所表达的情感和经历可能会触及观众的内心,使他们感受到某些共通之处,触发个人记忆与集体记忆之间的转化和连接。其次,私人叙事可能会为观众提供一个全新的视角,使他们能够从不同的角度看待自己的生活和世界。就像在我所创造的世界“Purlieu”中,身体是被想象成一个开放的地方的,身体是一个舞台,是一个可以同时“进行”和“颠覆”性别的舞台,在这里,性别和物种是有流动性的,它不是单一的尊崇二分法的地方。就像在我喜欢的另一位艺术家Marnie Weber的影像和拼贴作品中,女人可以是多种形态的,女人不是歇斯底里的,而是不循规蹈矩的存在。就像我总会做一些恐怖的东西,恐怖的身体,恐怖的角色。身体是我创作的载体,也是象征,它是连接到我的内部的途径,或者说内部的阀门本身;是作为保持正在发生的叙事成为内部叙事的可能性的一种方式。这是身体的自由,但最终,是我心灵的自由,对观众而言何尝不是一种自由呢?

Q: Through creation, you visualize your personal dreams and subconscious, reimagining connections to self and society. This is a very personal creation, how do you think a private narrative will resonate with the audience?

Y: First of all, I think that even though everyone's experience is unique, basic human emotions and psychological reactions are largely similar. Just like fear, love, loneliness, desire, and loss are common human emotions. The emotions and experiences expressed in my private narrative may touch the audience's heart and make them feel certain commonalities, triggering the transformation and connection between personal and collective memories. Secondly, private narratives may provide viewers with a new perspective, enabling them to see their lives and the world from a different angle. As in the world I have created, Purlieu, the body is imagined as an open place, a stage where gender can be "performed" and "subverted" at the same time, where the body is a stage where gender can be "performed" and "subverted" at the same time. "The body is a stage, an arena where gender and species are fluid, where there is no single dichotomy to honor. Like in the video and collage work of another artist I love, Marnie Weber, women can take many forms, women are not hysterical but nonconformist beings. It's like I'll always make scary stuff, scary bodies, scary characters. The body is the vehicle and the symbol of my creativity, it's the way to connect to my interior, or the internal valve itself; it's as a way to keep the possibility of the narrative that's happening to be an internal narrative. It's a freedom for the body, but ultimately, a freedom for my mind, and why wouldn't it be a freedom for the audience?



Y:我想在这组作品后我会更加坚定我要走的道路了吧。就像“”Body transformation”是我一直在坚持的,我想我会创造出更多的角色,与我自己的身体相结合。我希望在我所居住的那个世界“Purlieu”,能真的带给观众思考,就像这个世界是多样的,不仅有男人和女人。作为女人,我坚定地认为女人并不是只存在于二分法下刻板印象的形象,在这个时代,女人是多变的,是不被局限、不被定义的。我试图打破身心之间的自动反馈循环,我希望将艺术变成一门学科,在我们的文化中,内部和外部生活的分离导致多样性而不是局限性。

Q: Did you understand yourself and your dreams better after this work? Tell me about the feelings that arose after the "completion/finishing" process.

Y: I think I'm more determined about the path I'm going to take after this work. Just as "Body transformation" is something I've been working on for a long time, I think I'm going to create more characters that work with my own body. I hope that in the world I inhabit, Purlieu, I can really make the audience think about the fact that the world is diverse and there are not only men and women. As a woman, I firmly believe that women do not only exist in stereotypical dichotomies, but that in this day and age, women are versatile and are not limited or defined. I try to break the automatic feedback loop between mind and body, and I want to make art a discipline where the separation of internal and external life in our culture leads to diversity rather than limitation.

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