Pyramids and Parabolas I

Director: Alice Wang
Country: US/China
Duration: 7’’

Year: 2019 

About the Film
Wang’s standout video piece “Pyramids and Parabolas I” (2019) is set to a score of radio transmissions from celestial objects in outer space that she sourced from NASA’s archive of sound recordings (a sampling of which can be found on soundcloud). Visually, the work switches between the Very Large Array, a radio telescope observatory in New Mexico, and Mayan archeological sites in the Yucatán. Also included in the video is crowdsourced amateur video footage of the 2013 meteor over Siberia. One of the most striking aspects of this footage is the banality of the scenes that this massive projectile from outer space interrupts in a literal flash. Perhaps as a result, Wang’s piece conveys the sublime sense that, as she describes it, “the Earth is plummeting towards the Sun but missing it.

About the director
Over the last five years, Alice Wang has been working with the mantra that the Earth is plummeting towards the Sun while just missing it. The facts in this statement describe both our lived reality and an apocalyptic miracle conjured by the imagination. Through first-hand encounters at geological and ancient sites as well as technological facilities—the Denali National Park in Alaska, the Tibetan plateau, the San Andreas Fault line, the Arctic Circle, SpaceX, Biosphere2, and the Mayan Pyramids, she investigates the uncanny dimensions of the natural world. Using sensitive plants, moss, fossils, meteorites, silver, gold, water vapor, wind, beeswax, and other metamorphic substances, her work explores the material consciousness of sculptural forms. From the cosmic to the geologic to the molecular, matter — like relic radiation leftover from the Big Bang, corpses of prehistoric organisms that turned to stone, or wax secreted from the glandular abdomens of bees — reveal certain underlying forces in nature. Working with byproducts of the metabolic process of the universe, forms shapeshift and time travel within different timescales. The physical boundaries of the work are not limited to its visible dimensions. Motion, oftentimes imperceptible, is built into the work wherein its protean qualities embody a kind of metaphysical phenomenon as kinetic forms.

Alice Wang received a B.Sc. in Computer Science and International Relations from the University of Toronto, BFA from the California Institute of the Arts, and MFA from New York University. She was a fellow at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, a Villa Aurora fellow in Berlin, and the recipient of several major grants from the Canada Council for the Arts. Wang has presented solo exhibitions at Capsule Shanghai, Visitor Welcome Center, Human Resources, 18th Street Arts Center; participated in group exhibitions, screenings, and performances at the K11 Art Foundation (Hong Kong), Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibition, Armory Center for the Arts (Pasadena), the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Taikang Space (Beijing), FLAX Foundation, the Hammer Museum; and presented talks at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (Beijing), Chronus Art Center (Shanghai), and Shanghai Project. She is an assistant professor of arts at New York University Shanghai, and co-organizes The Magic Hour, an outdoor exhibition platform in the Mojave Desert in California. Wang is based between Los Angeles and Shanghai.