video, color, sound


During the coronavirus outbreak, as the time of self-isolation became longer and longer, I became more and more afraid of going out. Not just because of the virus, but timid about facing reality. There is a very unreal feeling about the outbreak that is happening outside. I live on the Internet through phones and computers every day, my body has always been confined to a small space, which makes me feel a strange sense of separation, reexamine the meaning of real self-existence.

The philosopher Deleuze mentioned a very particular conception of the body whereby the spirit is ashamed for the body. He said “when we act, the body lets itself be forgotten. But when it is reduced to a state of sludge, on the contrary, one has a strange feeling that it finally makes itself visible and attains its ultimate aim.” In this self-isolation period, the body is trapped, leaving only the spirit to judge it.

The character in the animation is no longer the individual's reference, but the collective reference of the group and the situation. It can cover the identity of a group, can refer to the fate of an era, and can arouse the audience to rethink the relationship between individual identity and group. The ever-present electric fan expresses the status of being controlled by the machine. The undulating reflection symbolizes the spirit and self-conscious. When the character bows her head, she is actually apologizing to the reflection, the act of apologizing symbolizes the state that the body desires to achieve reconciliation with the spirit. The word “reflection” has a double meaning, not only the meaning of the inverted image in water but also the meaning of introspection. The work wants to express reflection on the existence value of the subject of life, question the authenticity of self-existence.




My inspirations are often based on previous ideas. I always write down the ideas and organize them, thinking slowly and looking for better ideas. The inspiration for this work came from my own work Flat Water. The reflection on the water caught my attention. I began to think about the subtle relationship between people and reflection. I wanted to continue to use water as a material and continue to explore its endless forms.


We may just be the reflection of another world, not the subject, and what we do in this world is nothing but the reflection of the river ...
Plato had this philosophical idea: We are prisoners, we cannot turn around, we can only see the reflection on the wall, then the reflection we see is the entire world we know.

Story of Narcissus

Since ancient times, people and reflection have had an intriguing relationship.

In the story of Narcissus, Narcissus was a hunter in Greek mythology, son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Liriope.  He saw his reflection by the river, then he fell in love with his reflection in the water. Once he figured out that his love could not be addressed, he killed himself.

After reading this story, I became more interested in the reflection.


Tania Kovats, All the Sea, 2013-14

Tania Kovats

“It's something we're endlessly drawn towards. Water is such a powerfully emotive element and there are things that are not fully understood about it. It's part of the reason it's so compelling.”

In Tania Kovats' work All the Sea (2013-14), each bottle of water comes from a different ocean and is carefully numbered and marked with a name, picture and message. She collected unique microscopic components and pollution from oceans all over the world and put them together to display. This powerful collection of water shocked me. Her works are very inspiring for me to explore my own work in different waters.

In the interview, Kovats said: "Most recently water has been central in my work, the sea, river systems, maritime culture, flooding, tides, and the horizon line." We are all creating around water. She often connects and combines water from different waters in a good way. Her works around water make me saw a new direction.

Tania Kovats, Where Seas Meet2013-14

Leandro Erlich, Swimming Pool

Leandro Erlich, Port of Reflections, 2014

Leandro Erlich

Leandro Erlich is known for turning ordinary objects into a non-functional work, bringing the audiences into the world of fantasy. He asked us to think about our daily life and questioned it. This is exactly what my works want to convey.

In Swimming Pool, the illusion is created by 10cm of water being housed between two sheets of transparent glass on top of the pool. This work allows audiences to view the pool from above and below. In my opinion, people under the swimming pool are like reflections one by one. People cannot see their own reflections, they can only see each other. This led me to start thinking: If people have no reflections, how can they perceive their existence?

Port of Reflections is a large and site-specific installation. There is no water under the rowing boat, and there is no reflection. Railings and boats are cleverly constructed elements that create the illusion of reflection. "He subverts the mundane quotidian space into a fantastic world of surprises and paradoxes through juxtaposing the reality and the illusion, the real and the unreal, and the representation and the ambiguousness, thereby constructing a unique vocabulary on his contemplation of the world.” This reminds me of another fictional possibility of reflections.

Books and Films

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Generate many ideas and choose the best expression.                    People apologize to their reflections in the water.


In different waters.                      Identify three water areas: seawater, river water, tap water.


Determine the form of the video installation.                     One set of three corresponds to three different waters.


1. The video is taken on the water surface, and my reflection fluctuates on the water surface. The voice in the video is that I am apologizing to the reflection. There are three locations in total, by the sea, the river and the bathroom. The content of the apology is different. It may be a detailed incident or an apology for some absurd reason.

2. The first video is my reflection on the seawater. I will bring the seawater in the reflection area back into the water tank. The second video is my reflection on the river water. I will bring the river water in the reflection area back into the water tank. The third video is my reflection on the water in bathtub. I will bring the water in the reflection area back into the water tank.

3. While watching the work, the audience put on the headphone and look down at the underwater TV. The audience replaced me with my own identity. As me, he was watching my reflection and produced a sense of substitution.

4. I pass my thoughts to the audience through an apology, so that the audience unconsciously opens up the thought of dialogue with themselves, and causes them to replace the reflection in the video with themselves in meditation to make them identity become a constantly changing temporary state. Loneliness is a reflection on the existing social system and human existence.




In the current situation, the physical installation is difficult to make due to issues such as site, materials, and craftsmanship. It is impossible to do more physical experiments and display the installation. So I have been thinking about how to present the idea in a better way of expression. Then I thought of creating a virtual space for this work, switching between three scenes in the virtual space, sea, river and bathroom. The audiences can enter the virtual space online to participate and feel the work.

When setting up the scenes, I gradually conceived the plot based on these scenes. After consideration, I decided to use Cinema 4D to make an animation. The animation also has three scenes. It is still to explore the relationship between human and reflections. The elements used in the animation are also continuing the elements of the previous video installation. It is another way to show what I want to express. I want to break through myself. The animation is also one of the directions I want to try. I think there will be more integration between the virtual and physical in the future, and both can become a medium of thought transmission.



The plot is that the character apologizes to her reflection in three scenes. Eventually, the character will disappear and the reflection will still exist.


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Using Cinema 4D to make film


The relatively big challenge in creation is that there are too many ideas, but there is no time and energy to realize them. I must force myself to learn to cut and plan.

In addition to the production of animation, rendering takes a very long time, so the time must be perfectly planned.



video installation

© 2020 copyright Xinyao Liu. All rights reserved.