Preparing for the graduation exhibition, I made a series of Caged Man sculptures in different shapes and materials. But these were small experimental works, for the final exhibition, I planned to create a big spatial installation.
Luckily, I kept the corner I always used at school as my final exhibition space.
First, I cut previous painted papers from the Project Paradigm into dozens of human forms and pasted them on the wall. Those painted papers were created under a conflict when I was emotionally struggling with other people’s perceptions of my work and myself. For me, these papermen represented those people who are trying to influence others but also influenced by others.
Then, I was thinking to build a big cage, during the exhibition, when viewers stand outside of the cage, they see those papermen in the cage, but when viewers enter in the big cage, these papermen were outside and became those people who are putting you in a cage. I was thinking to use long bamboos or wooden sticks to build the cage, but then I saw a roll of black tape from my classmate, which is easy and strong enough to build the cage, and during my project Paradigm, I was also trying tape art too, so I planned to use black tape to cover the four sides, ceilings, and ground to build a cage, like this:
When I researched about tape art, Monika Grzymala and her tape art installation attracted my attention. I found she had the same idea with me, to use black tapes to build the spatial installation in a corner, like 3-dimensional drawing, her early artworks just look like what I want to achieve in my plan:
However, her later tape art installations which were less in orders made me feel more interesting, both the color and shape are so strong, the chaotic black tapes look like rough waves aggressing on the space, it’s so aggressive that it’s going to swallow everything.
So I changed my idea from building a cubic cage then put a person inside the cage, but better to use the black tape in more chaotic ways — to tangle around the person from all sides, like one of my sculpture:
I made a human-sized human from with papers and black tape, then I hung it on the ceiling, and paste tapes from all sides, but the classroom ceiling was too weak to bear the heavy human form, it failed.
So, it’s better to let the human form sitting on the ground, then tape it from different sides.
The next day, I came to school and continued working on the installation, after several hours, the whole space was full of black tape( I used 5 rolls of tape). I didn’t want to leave any space but achieve a very strong and aggressive visual effect, like the hell swallow you up. Unfortunately, one tutor came to stop me and asked me to take half of the tapes off, he said it’s too strong to affect the coherence of the group exhibition.
So in the end, it looked like this:
Not many black tapes left, the whole effect was weak, I was not very satisfied with the work it’s self, but I had more space to put my small sculptures around. To strengthen the visual effect in a small space, I decorated the chair with rubber gloves and colored cotton to look like countless of hands climbing from the ground to grab the person. I decorated the human form with my modeling clay sculpture and the tapes with drawing peoples.
During the process, I found that tape was like a 3D pen which helped to draw the lines outside of the wall, it’s not only from my hand but from my whole body, inside to outside, it’s an extension of myself to this space.
I called the series of experiments “the Caged Man”, but later I remembered that one of my favorite novel “of Human Bondage” suited it better. When I was a teenager, I liked dummy dolls and even call myself Dummy, during the project Paradigm, I continued using tape and strings to photo people like a dummy.
After this, I plan to focus on the concept of Human Bondage and experiment on spatial installations with tapes, strings, and human form sculptures.
Royal College of Art, London