Shuyi Cao is a Chinese artist currently based in New York. She works across disciplines - - from drawing to sculpture to video to interactive installation. She explores the intersection between art and science, by combining the laboratorial tools, live organisms and physical computing into her artistic practice, along with the nature of experiment.
Last summer I was working on my art project in a laboratory. I learned how to grow and transform bacteria and fungi, and how to extract and analyze my own DNA sequence through bioinformatics. What fascinated me is the process of manipulating the objects and recontextualizing the subjects. New relations are created between the materiality and the meanings, through the lens of science and the eye of art. This experience reminds me of my previous academic training in political science. Besides fieldwork, I spent most of the time in coding, transforming information that collected on site -- through observation, participation and conversation -- into data for computer processing with statistical software. An individual sample lacking certain information will be assigned a number that is read by the system as “omit,” even though this might be a person I had talked to and laughed with. That was the moment when I started questioning the apparatus of producing knowledge in the humanities that aligned to modern science, and the power of reductive rationalizations of data. I turned to art, hoping to find something that an artist can tell while a scientist or a scholar cannot.
My practice represents my inquiries into human existence in the realm of modern biology and technology. I investigate sensation and perception between different species, and different forms of life. I explore the intimate and large-scale registration of dynamic being we humans so crudely and presumptively register through the reductive rationalizations of data streams. My desire is to bring attention to the poetics of the yet-unquantifiable and imperceptible qualities of being.