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Lisa Tan

Departing from Virginia Woolf’s experimental novel The Waves, the video Waves imagines how consciousness forms in relation to society and its technologies but also to expressions of geological and hydrological processes. Filmed at the threshold of land and sea, a conversation forms between disparate hydro-relations, such as Woolf’s prose, Courbet’s paintings of waves, Google’s data centers cooled by the Baltic Sea, invisible jellyfish, and transoceanic cables.

In Waves viewers see and hear the video’s script as it is being written on a computer, an object which also acts as a vehicle in the work for materializing distance and the passage of time. Through the activity of searching for Courbet’s paintings of waves on Google Cultural Institute, the artist (and by extension the viewer) is connected to a data center outside of Helsinki. The servers are cooled with water from the Baltic Sea— creating a nearly unfathomable relationship between looking at The Wave online, and that of Courbet’s own looking in 1869, as he painted an image whose digital dissemination would entail the force of the sea he depicted.

Aspect ratio 1.78:1 (16:9)
Prod. format Generic HD-video
Duration 00:19:12
Color Color
Sound Stereo
Year 2015
In text Lisa Tan Trilogi
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About the artist

Lisa Tan

Born in 1973 in Syracuse, NY, USA, Lisa Tan lives in Stockholm, Sweden where she is an artist and Professor of Fine Art at Konstfack University College of the Arts, Crafts and Design. She works with video, photography, text, installation, and other gestures. Tan is concerned with the ways in which images and language shape political consciousness, the formation of individual subjectivity, and desire. Aspects of her everyday life — such as love, experiences of otherness, loss — have all served as inspiration alongside her research into different fields of study such as theory of photography, literature, and affect.