Underlayer (2023)

6’16’’ multi-channel video with audio, size variable
Unreal Engine 5, Computer Graphics

360° Rotation Immersive Experience
4-Channel Video Installation 
Underlayer is a multi-channel video that introduces the rejection of linearity by embracing a multitude of perspectives. Weaving together flashback images that constantly appear in the mind as a haunting ground, with real-world locales drawn from the depths of past and present memories, these scenes thus undergo a blend and transformation through a process of displacement and ‘symsceny’. It prompts us to introspect and reconsider how our inner metamorphosis and formation of self are mirrored through, or rooted on the environments we dwell in when facing the void of the present and the landscapes that occupy our contemplative moments. 

By merging and constructing recurring pictures from past visits into a digitally existing realm, this work seeks to understand the origin and subtle forces that imperceptibly shape our concurrent reality and identity. It forges a unique space that oscillates between the familiar and the surreal, obscuring the boundaries between historical or recording accuracy and the fabrications of memory.

Documentation from

NYU ITP Winter Show
December 17-18, 2023
230 Audio Lab, 370 Jay St, Brooklyn, New York

Exhibition brochure distributed during NYU ITP Winter Show
Print, Bind, Design/
Yuxuan Qi

Echoing the experiences with confronting floating memory, as mentioned by the film director Apichatpong in his book Memoria: “For years I usually woke up after three hours of sleep, fresh. Then I entered a ‘drifting’ stage in which scenarios came and went. It was not typical dreaming because in it I was doing nothing but being a spectator”, Underlayer emerges as a digital haven for both its creator and the audience. It offers a sanctuary for retreat, while providing multiple layers of anchor points and memory cues in conjunction with acting as a catalyst in our process of moving forward in time.

In Yuxuan’s recent practice, elements like tropical vegetation, monitors, narrow corridors, and cable cars converge to form a visual language, juxtaposing flat imageries with three-dimensional landscapes. She has developed a pattern and technique of observing vacant spaces during temporary pauses and brief interludes, before shifting to the next foothold. Within this limited time frame, Yuxuan attempts to envision the history of these spaces: what groups of people have passed through or traversed? What events have transpired at this exact coordinate? What kinds of emotion have imprinted upon the physical form that is still present in this space? These intangible elements coalesce into a tangible presence that remains constant in the world, and these ethereal elements crystallize into a persistent physical presence. In this context of intangibility, one certainty prevails: the enduring manifestation of its entity remains at the same spot in the world. With this ideation in mind, Yuxuan constantly revisits these insubstantial spaces for comfort and reassurance, extracting ‘useful pieces’ as a progression force and fuel to propel and further continue in life.

In this latest iteration of Underlayer, the reconstructed realm is divided into four primary scenes: the hall, the greenhouse, the hollow mountain and the plain at duck. Each scene occupies one of the four cardinal directions within the navigation system, constituting an integrated structure of artificial space within a physically existing setting. Stitching together various recorded motion capture data of daily movements and activities, the four sides of the video installation work together to depict duplicates of the artist herself. These representations, performing routine tasks like drinking a bottle of water, within a static temporal space and interacting with absent objects, symbolize the weary bodies roaming between the transitional areas from cities to their peripheral limits. This metaphor captures our collective quest and struggle to find a solution and direction in anything, caught in a world between the echoes of the past and the projections of the future.