The young Designer Youyuan Zhao from Berlin.
Photo © Adam Drobiec, Stylepark
Spirit – dancing with water

Im Gespräch: Youyuan Zhao

Mar 18, 2015

Adeline Seidel: So what exactly inspired your “Spirit” project?

Youyuan Zhao: For me there are two types of water, namely water in nature and water in the city. Water in nature is completely obstinate and you can’t foresee what it will do. By contrast, water in the city is very mechanical and quiet. Usually it’s hidden away in pipes and as good as invisible. I wanted to make it lively, enable a conversation with it, giving rise to a new kind of communication between water and us human beings. My entry for the “Axor Inspiration Projects” fleshes out that wish.

So what will the installation be like?

Youyuan Zhao: “Spirit” is a dance performance in which the dancer interacts with the water such that the dancer’s movements repeatedly engender different mobile spaces made of water.

And how will this be realized technically speaking?

Youyuan Zhao: Pipes will be attached to a ceiling and water will rain down on the floor from them. Essentially, it’s like pixels in a way, just that the pipes don’t represent colors, but instead release water in differing intensities. A video camera records the dancer’s movements and transforms them into gray values. The gray values are then transmitted to an engine which defines the height and position and by extension the volume of falling water.

And why a dancer of all things? Surely anyone walking through the installation could perform the same function…

Youyuan Zhao: Water actually only responds in a physical sense. You have to touch water to interact with it. I wanted to change that, as I believe that for a dialog you also require a certain distance. For me, dancing is a dialog with space. And through a dialog between a dancer and the water, spaces become visible that otherwise would only have been noticed by an attentive observer.

A dancer interacts in "Spirit" with the water. Drawing © Youyuan Zhao