Classic of Mountain and Seas

Yidan Xie

Volume 1, Issue 2

Artist’s Statement

Yidan Xie

I am Yidan Xie, a young multimedia artist from China now living in the United States. As a multimedia artist, I focus mainly on dynamic imaging. My digital works are varied, including use of video, animation, illustration, sound, and visual design. In them, I present a mysterious and fantastic visual experience, drawing on the emerging medium of spatial narrative and on relationships of women to nature and mythology.

This latest project is an independent and experimental animation, “The Classic of Mountains and Seas.” Its inspiration comes from an ancient Chinese book of the same name: a compilation of mythic geography and myths. My work introduces new forms of animation to accompany this traditional storyline, in particular images arising from discoveries and interesting concepts in the study of Eastern painting.

Viewers may find that text in this animation is often hard to read, because the font is difficult to decipher. Through these strange texts, I explore and attempt to discover inverse relationships between images and narrative. Movement allows for another level of interpretation and understanding—rough and broad—of the language and its meaning. Viewers may “read” the new symbols, text, and language per the suggestions of the images. In this sense, though they may not directly interpret the text, they nevertheless begin to feel an understanding of its meaning. Viewers are encouraged to experience the work as a whole, to feel rather than simply read the text.

A second notion at work in this piece, the idea of admitting blank space, derives from a concept of “white space” particular to Eastern painting. Eastern artists believe that consciously preserved white space provides room for the imagination. I have adopted this concept in my animation, and use sound to populate imageless blank spaces. Meanwhile, I create a unique background with a different visual aesthetic for each creature represented in the piece, distinguishing the foreground and background, which generates another layer of space.

Sound, finally, is an important element in this animation. It serves not only as background music, but also as a narrative tool for filling darkened empty space with a sense of hearing. For example, when clouds gather, the viewer can hear sounds of thunder and rain, but no corresponding image is offered visually. Sound in this way does not always cater to image: it can develop space and narrative independently.