Yuguang Zhang

3rd Prize


In the collective imagination the figure of the tiger represents a pervasive image, a powerful symbol, almost the archetype par excellence of animal and natural world and seems to be everywhere: from the logos of fashion houses to cereal boxes, on t-shirts, too.

What is human, what is not human, what is in-between? “(Non-)Human: The Moving Bedsheet” is an art installation that conjures the hidden humanness in objects and imagines, a speculative world where a human exists in non-human forms. We live a life surrounded by objects we build to serve us: curtains, lamps, and many others. We use our body to interact with these objects rubbing our face against warm towels, or sinking into a fluffy bed. We, as humans, rarely consider them to be part of us. We tend to think of ourselves as different, we’re the ones with spirituality, reason, intelligence, while they’re not. The advancements in modern physics have pointed out the similarity between humans and objects in terms of materiality. Emerging technology such as ML/AI has shown the promise of non-human intelligence through computation. More than ever, the borderline between human and object has become blurred. If there is a spectrum that measures the level of Human-ness vs. Object-ness, what lies in the middle ground? How close might an object endowed with a certain level of intelligence or consciousness be to a human? As a response, “(Non-)Human: The Moving Bedsheet” is a series of art installations that explore the semi-human, semi-object territory by creating humans in non-human forms. The initial piece of this series is a bedsheet that tweaks and bends in the form of its owner, now up and out for the day. The project concept is based on research in three domains: discoveries in physics and cosmology regarding the origin of life and human; the philosophical notions about our relationship of consciousness to the universe as a whole; and related religious roots. “(Non-)Human: The Moving Bedsheet” is the result of approaching this topic from a technological perspective within this big picture, especially by using technology as a bridge to connect human behaviours with object behaviours.

Yuguang (YG) Zhang is a New York-based creative technologist, new media artist and a research resident of the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at New York University. An ex-software product manager and artistic director, his current practice, which incorporates interactive media, installation, and live performance, explores the reciprocal relationship between human and technology, the connections we make with tangibleand intangible AI systems, and the cultural and ethical shifts that come along. His works have been showcased at NeurIPS, MOLTO x Art, the NYC Media Lab, New Inc., CultureHub, Movement Research, Battery Dance Festival, The Center at West Park, Processing Foundation, Re- Work Deep Learning Summit, Cycling ‘74 Expo, Fu:bar, B·O·N·D and more.

PHOTO CAPTION: Yuguang Zhang, (Non-)Human: The Mooving Bedsheet, (in progress)

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