Montserrat College of Art/Beverly MA
September 23--October 17, 2015

2:11 HD video

Essay by curator Pamela Companero

Wu explores the visualization of journey, process, and topography. Through drawing, video and installation, her work bridges art and science, imagination and documentation. Whether actual or virtual in traversing routes, mapping is the way Wu locates herself in the world physically, culturally, and psychologically. For this exhibition, Wu focuses on walking as both an act and metaphor for the traversing the “paths” of life.

Proximities features three works from the Random Walk series (2014-2015). By definition, proximity is the nearness of place, time, order, occurrence, and relation. Wu asks the question: What does it mean to be proximal? What does it mean to be far away? A random walk is a mathematical formalization of a path that consists of a succession of random steps. For Wu this term is a metaphor for the serendipity within the structure of life. Wu translates the physicality of her walking practice into a visual language that resembles a constellation. In the work Crossingsthe course of travel leaves aspects of navigation to chance. A coin flip of a coin indicates whether Wu turns right for heads or left for tails. Wu’s body is an agent of change; adapting and reacting to chance in a manner reminiscent of the French Situationists.

For several of the works in the Random Walk series Wu uses her body to track time and space, and marks her movements, location, geography, and topography. “Crossings” (2015), is a site-specific wall “drawing” that records a walk completed by the artist throughout Boston. Her recorded movements grow exponentially as she works directly on the wall. The dot and line drawing is made of construction paper and fishing line and creates a rhizome-like network. “Walking VII” (2014), is a collated journal consisting of drawings that map and quantify walks taken during trips to visit family and friends. The eight foot, accordion-style book contains paper remnants from travel such as tickets, tourist maps and receipts. Like “Crossings,” Wu uses the universal language of the dot and line to record her walking through urban streets, airports, the rural countryside, even recording her pacing in her studio while making plans.

The star like clusters in both Crossings and Walking VII are geographic notations chronicling each of Wu’s walks. Visually they echo the connections made on the opposing wall by Random Walks I (2013-15). For this piece, Wu will install a combination of eleven works on paper and a series of found images directly onto the gallery wall in a constellation formation. The images depict craters on the moon, constellations, planetary orbits, and geological patterns both through photography and drawing. Here, the networked connections do not correlate to actual steps taken by the artist. Rather, they are symbolic of the larger connections that exist between natural phenomena and brings to light how these relationships can occur across different locations in space and time.