Yang Yang: Hand in Hand
Hand in Hand
MFA Digital Art Thesis Exhibition
Yang Yang is a Chinese interactive digital artist, working toward his master’s degree in Interactive Art. He earned his bachelor degree in digital media from Communication University of China, which is the best multimedia university in China. His interactive art work “Hand in Hand” was exhibited in American Nature and History Museum and Brooklyn Academy of Music early this year.
“Hand in Hand” is a live interactive installation about digital puppetry and the traditional art of shadow puppetry. Inspired by the fact that Chinese Shadow Puppetry was included in the Intangible Cultural Heritage List by UNESCO in 2011; the creator of this installation witnessed the gradual displacement of this one-thousand-year-old art by modern arts and the new media as well as the withering of traditional arts. How should we develop traditional arts in the 21st century that is filled with new media? Should the traditional contents and styles be kept the same so as to preserve their uniqueness? Or can we add new methods and elements that are more time-fitting into the presentation to express the spirit of traditional arts? In regards to this question, the creator of this piece chose the latter approach. As a kinect installation about traditional shadow puppetry, “Hand in Hand” is unlike traditional puppetry where puppets were controlled in strings by puppeteers. Using their body movements, the audience of “Hand in Hand” will have live interactions and control over eastern legendary figures and famed American superheroes. Such an experience differs with that of the traditional puppetry in that not only are the puppets controlled by the shadow, which is the essence of this art, but also the puppets are turned into digital characters instead of cut-out figures. Thus, the audience can also become puppeteers. By doing so, the two-dimensional shadow puppetry is turned into a three-dimensional interactive experience.