Yi Xin Tong
The Description of a Whale

In the book The Description of a Whale, the images repetitively display a gesture of whales surfacing from water, mostly spyhopping, a behavior motivated by curiosity and intention for interaction. In fact, taken during the explorer Richard Byrd’s first and second Antarctica expeditions, the original photographs of breaching whales themselves record the moments of encountering between the whales and the human being. Before the white-out process, the original text was compiled from the index of the Collection Boxes at The Ohio State University Byrd Polar Research Center. The text describes both the content and the material qualities of the archival footage related to Byrd’s Antarctic expeditions. Men looking into long fissures in the ground, crew digging snow under a plane, scratches and dirt on emulsion, punched-out numbers on tape, these details could exist continuously in one paragraph. The text provides a sense of context for the contemplation of the whales. This book is part of a larger project named Delirious, the Midnight Sun Is Gorgeous. Through re-imaging and re-imagining of archival materials documenting scenes set in Antarctica, this symbolically romantic land abstracts into an imaginary landscape, pure and mathematical in one’s mind. Fictitious stories are built, supported by speculations of what the unique and severe natural environment could physically and psychologically alter the human being. The most unimaginable and futuristic will become reality, then obsolete, and finally fiction.

Self published
6×9 in, 122 pp, black and white laser, perfectbound, 2013
Open edition
US $20

More info: http://tongyixin.com

Available from: https://www.bookstores.nyu.edu/WKSCRIPTS3/f.wk?FEATURE.BOOK+isbn=978100000408B&order=

Yi Xin Tong works with moving and still images, sound, three-dimensional objects, and words. His research-aided work takes form as installations with sculptural, video, print, and writing components. Cultural and natural landscape, fiction, metaphysics, musicality of the mute, visual art as writing, and the dialectics of poetry and naïveté are subjects he is studying. Tong is attracted to the phenomena of knowledge formation in relation to human history, and his work derives from the elusive clashing of discrepant epistemologies. Drawn to the historical scent of archival materials, he collects and forges dispersed knowledge fragments to create new and fictitious scenarios. Tong lives and works in New York, NY. Tong is currently attending the MFA Studio Art program at New York University. He received his BFA Honours from Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, and he studied geology at China University of Geosciences, Beijing. His work has been shown at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Gallery 44, Rosenberg Gallery, Audain Gallery, VIVO Media Arts Centre, The Alchemical Theatre Laboratory, W2 Community Media Arts, Embassy of Canada in Berlin, Roundhouse Arts and Recreation Centre, 1612 Gallery, Centre for Art Tapes, Gam Gallery, Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre, and 221a Artist Run Centre. Recent publications include Wind-speed Indicator, The Description of a Whale, Signal & Noise X, and POIESIS XIII: The Head of Orpheus. He received Joan Mitchell Foundation Scholarship, Takao Tanabe Award in Visual Arts, Bice Caple Awards, British Columbia Arts Council Scholarship, Orange Corporation Annual Award in Visual Arts, and May and Samuel Rudin Foundation Multimedia Technology Scholarship. He was the British Columbia winner of BMO 1st Art! Invitational Student Art Competition in 2012.

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