Butterflies’ Dream

AR Developer: Mingyue Chen

Installation Designer: Lihan Bao, Mingyue Chen

Projection: Lihan Bao, Derek

Tools: Unity, Projector

Date: 2019.12

This installation is about alternative storytelling. The viewers experience different stories as they change their viewpoints between reality and augmented reality. They are inspired by the Chinese folklore “Butterfly Dream,” where the philosopher Chuang Tzu dreams of being a butterfly so veritably that he questions if he is a person dreaming of a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming of a person. In a nutshell, this project is concerned with the nuances of dream and reality.

As the spectators approach the installation, which is a rather sizable, tall, white box, they see the first layer and the story involving a figure walking across the four lateral sides of the box, enabled by video mapping. At the top, the original printed text of the butterfly story in several languages is wrapped around the box. Then, as the audience looks at the work using AR equipment, they see the second layer and story through the electronic screen, where an AR butterfly flies around the installation, which is blocked by an AR white box of the same size. The viewers see the physical appearance of the person projected on the box. The AR recreation of an animated butterfly moves away from the two-dimensional display and presents an alternative story.

Despite the simplicity of the stories—a walking primate and a flying Lepidoptera—the installation provides its audience with significant blank space to contemplate and make personal and individual interpretations. The superimposed texts provide the narrative context and function as a reminder of the association between dreams and reality. The goal of this installation is to encourage viewers to reconsider the definition of a dream in its psychological and philosophical contexts. What does it mean to dream? How is it different from reality? What is reality? The ultimate purpose of this installation is to stimulate ideas.

Memory Continuum

Installation Design: Jiachen Zhou, Tang Sheng

3D Model Design: Mingyue Chen

Tools: Rhino

Date: 2021.8

The artwork is a public voice installation done by my classmates Jiachen and Tang. They position the artwork in the school cafeteria. I help them build a 3D printed model cover for their circuit, and the result turns out quite good with the gorgeous color lighting.