Emma Yimeng Zhu 朱艺蒙, from Beijing, China, received her Master of Art, Culture, and Technology from MIT in 2021 and her bachelor’s degree in architecture from Cornell University in 2019. Emma identifies herself as an artist that works in-between the context of visual art and architecture. Emma has a strong interest in the parasitic and endocytosed relationship between human body and architectural space. Through a diverse range of media, including physical and virtual installation, performance, and video, Emma investigates the elasticity of this relationship. In 2020 Spring Emma was an artist in residence at Pioneer Works. Most recently she co-founded ppppress at MIT with the support of CAMIT Grant. Emma is also the co-founder of 坐北朝南, an architectural design studio in Beijing.
Lines can be seemingly benign as a series of pixels or vector objects, but lines are political and social, as when they are used to draw a divide between groups of beings both in concrete terms in the way that lines demarcate borders and thus define patterns of migration and more obliquely in the way that lines are drawn between disciplines such as architecture and visual art. This sense of division takes on a more instrumental quality under Euclidean geometry which imbues lines with the authority to keep things tidy, neat, and hygienic…. Is there any line beyond a “clean” line? Ingold provided a taxonomy of lines in his book, ranging from thread, trace, cut, crack, to crease and more. These alternative interpretations of the line hint at non-Euclidean ways of perceiving the world.
By examining the threads, cuts, cracks and creases, the lines that are not clean, or well defined, this thesis attempts to make room for the “in-between space.” The “in-between space” happens at various scales and in various contexts, from the very intimate level of perceiving one self’s (one’s own body’s) boundary as an in-between space to connect across entities, to the rendering of screens (medium and object) as liminal and porous lines facilitating unusual linkages, and eventually to the reinterpretation of borders and migration as spaces for collective imagination.
The approach is mostly self-reflexive and self-referential, combining selected writings and works I did over the past three years, while suturing them with the thought experiment of “finding the in-between space.” As the title suggests, I am in the state of finding and not-knowing. I want to be as open as possible towards different perspectives.
Dissolved Boundary (Costume, made with thrift clothing, Fall 2019)
Unlike a silhouette or scale figure, human body is in fact not bounded by a solid line. Our skin is porous and elastic, while our senses are dispersed. We can even augment our bodies and senses to extend the definition of body boundary. But what if we erase rather than emphasize the boundary. Can we let go of our senses? Can we lend our bodies to others? With this costume made to introduce vision and mobility impair, the boundary of human body is dissolving for both the performer and viewer as the body moves through space. The human body here is placed in an intentional vulnerable situation as an attempt to evoke sensitivity and empathy with the surroundings.