2023 Stopology

hand and traffic light

To Your Order

flying anchor


bike brake

Cannot See Myself When I Hold My Wheel

2023 Cyropaedia II.1.4-6

2023 /lɒk/

"Wrong connexion of ideas a great cause of errors."
John Locke, An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding


2022 The Visuality in Xenophon's Memorabilia pdf | An attempt on making a distinction between "good" and "beautiful" by defining the latter as "looking good" in the context of Xenophon's Memorabilia and other Socrates writings. I wonder to what extent our contemporary conceptual artists are some kind of equivalent of Socrates who is very fond of speech. A term paper for Prof. Nathan Tarcov's "Xenophon's Socrates" seminar in 2022 fall.
2022 Doubting Tommy

a young man touching a broken screen

a monitor on the ground showing a young man touching a broken screen

On Tuesday night, October 25th, 2022, I walked into the room where Tianjiao installed her works for our weekly critique session. I was the first visitor, which might be the reason for us to have a backstage conversation before the official viewing. There were several objects in the room and I was not paying attention to any particular one. Tianjiao pointed to a Samsung monitor on the ground and told me that she borrowed it from the media center and intended to screen some video on it, but it turned out to be broken. Then she thought maybe she could claim that that broken monitor—I remembered that Hito Steyerl—who was liked by Tianjiao—had this monitor-breaking work STRIKE—was a work of hers to somehow trick people. But she was not so sure about this idea. She turned the monitor on, and people came. She gave a speech to clarify what were the works to be viewed but she somehow skipped the broken monitor situation. Most people were gathering around and looking at objects that had clear designations. But I noticed there were two or three people around that broken monitor and Tommy was kneeling on the ground and touching that broken monitor with his index finger. I approached him and tried to stop him from doing that because I had got an electric shock from touching a broken screen before. “I don’t believe this.” Tommy said. I was confused. I first thought Tommy was saying he did not believe that “touching a broken screen will give you electric shock.” Then I realized Tommy was saying he did not believe that the monitor was in fact broken—the broken screen could be an image of a broken screen. I was shocked, not by electricity, but by my credulousness in the first place. And then I realized that the image of Tommy the Korean young man in front of me looked very much like the doubting Thomas. And then I also realized that the name “Tommy” was “Thomas” made cute.
2022 “L'essence de la critique, c'est l'attention”










This is a portrait of me. Its title is a quote of a quote from this book. In English: the essence of criticism is attention. The title came after the idea of the image which was based on Wilson’s witness of an intellectual exchange between me and somebody else. He portrayed, in speech, this exchange as this somebody is punching me while I, the punchee, did nothing but watched the watch of the puncher. It cannot be a faithful portraiture of the scene due to its possible victim mentality. But the general spirit of the idea is nonetheless positive thus should be desired. Couple weeks later, I read that quote and simply craved a materialization of this idea. So I asked Wilson to make this idea into an image. And to relieve the victim mentality, I call the whole picture a portrait of me for I should also take the responsibility of the aggression.

[1] is the first draft of it. I gradually became amazed by its dullness. Nothing is spectacular about this presumably spectacular performance on both sides. The punchee resembles Wilson more than me (which is not a problem) and it looks like he is watching a tv screen. I was worried about the clarity of the “message” —watch watching—of this image. Another problem is about specificity: what time is it? Wilson was anxious about the indicated time on the dial because if the moment is specified, then the meaning of the time became not negligible while we do not have any plan for a meaning of the time. So I suggested mixing the sightline and the hands on the dial. Delia, Wilson’s partner suggested maybe some movement could be added.

One day later, [2] was finished. It simply looks slicker due to the line quality, the red color, the surrealism and the punchee’s dodging. But is the punchee too agile? It became more about the reaction instead of attention. Using the sightline to determine the time is effective. But I am not sure about the direction. So I asked Wilson to reduce the dodging and reverse the direction of the arrow.

[3] is the third draft. The hair is hilarious. Wilson said it might be helpful to create movement without moving the body. But I thought it was still too busy. Maybe the disengagement or even the toughness of tv-watching is in the end an advantage? And the direction is also not convincing. So I told Wilson that he might just add “cyclical hands” to the first draft. To explain what I meant by “cyclical hands”, I sent him [4-left] which has another problem about timing. Wilson’s image happens before the landing of the punch. So the damage is only a potential one which corresponds to attention which is only about potentiality. I don’t know if the actual damage is necessary pictorially or realistically. And [4-right] is my attempt at dramatization which is ostentatious and cheating (yes, cheating cannot be taken for granted even in art).

We are still not satisfied by [5]. Originally, I hoped we could have a totally convincing image without the need to explain with words like these. But it only produces more words. I have mixed feelings about that.

Patch 1: Several weeks later, I had a studio visit with Laura who told me she was surprised that Wilson and I had taken this image so literally—regarding narrative—while she was more interested in the materiality or rather, formal quality of it. She then told me that my work lacks a certain smell for attraction. I was thinking about that smell and suddenly realized, the reason for the punchee to watch the puncher’s watch might not be his amazing personality. He might just be a normal person and it is the watch that is so attractive, or, to use Laura’s term, has a fantastic smell, which makes this scene possible. The protagonist of this portrait is the absent watchmaker.

Patch 2: I had a studio visit with Max recently, I told him our problem with the specificty of time. Max suggested that a real watch would solve this question. So I bought a wristwatch for this portrait.

Patch 3: I made a new arrangement [6] with the help of a light panel [7].

2022 On the Boasting Character of Wilson Yerxa's Drawing pdf | My review of Wilson Yerxa's basketball drawing. This writing is originally an appendix of On the Dualism or the Two Ingredients of the Divine. And after a post-reading discussion with Wilson, his "intention" appeared to me much more candid while at the same time further complicated the relationship between intention and its execution regarding art making and even beyond that. At least one more text on the paradox between diligence and greed with an eye on literalism (in a similar sense when Michael Fried used this word to address minimalism) is necessary.
2022 On the Dualism or the Two Ingredients of the Divine pdf | A writing structured by two concepts: beauty (which is not elaborated enough here for my own inability and inexperience) and helpfulness (which is surprisingly close to the philosophy of action which is new to me) as parts of the idea of the divine based on the reading of Aristophanes' Peace and Wealth and Leo Strauss' Socrates and Aristophanes. A term paper for Prof. Heinrich Meier's class "Philosophy and Comedy" in 2022 spring.
2021 Compare Two Educations in Cyropaedia pdf | A writing starts with my interest in the erotic incident — the happening around Panthea — in Cyropaedia but ends with a rather unexpected discovery of different modes of desire and their incarnations manifested through three characters (Araspas, Cyrus and Tigranes) connected somehow by two parallel educations. A term paper for Prof. Nathan Tarcov's "Xenophon's Education of Cyrus" seminar in 2021 fall.
2021 fruit

2020 Jirachi

2020 Mother's Techne

My attempt at responding to Covid-19 as well as the only thing so far I have made for my mom.
2019 Girl's Geist

a video on a chair with chairs for the audience

2018 Fire and Flood in print | on web
2018 Naive Cloud

man speaking of if a bad promise should be kept

A heavily contextual work which happened during a performance class. In that class we would perform every two weeks based on a prompt. One day I told the class that after working on a project I realized that it was a better fit for the next prompt. So I initiated a vote for the class to decide "whether I am allowed to show that project two weeks later" and claimed that "if I am not allowed then I will do that now. But if I am allowed then I promise that I will perform it two weeks later". I distributed some blank pieces of paper for voting and told people to put their votes on the ground in the middle of us. After the vote count (only two said no to my plea), dear Prof. Werner Herterich, who might be too friendly to make people aware of his factual authoritative professorship, showed us his unsubmitted vote which I unforgivably had not noticed, and asked me what was the "constitutional base" of this vote. A not-so-young man who had stayed at an art school in the US for around six months and could hardly speak fluent English was completely petrified. I simply had never really thought about vote or rather, democracy, in my life before. Werner then initiated his vote for us to decide "if students have the right to determine what happens in the class room" and only two (including me) voted for "no". Werner brought up the regular critique session and I denied my vote as an object of critique for it was not a "work" (it is very funny because no matter how unthoughtful I was back then I unconsciously executed my current aesthetic standard). Nevertheless people talked about vote and democracy and I just paranoically emphasized that I was a simple man, what I had said was real, and I would perform the promised project in two weeks. But, after regaining my consciousness, I just found to keep my words was impossible because the promised project became nonsense (I was not post-modern enough to embrace nonsense) after Werner's intervention (for I designed two possibilities based on the expected binary outcome of the vote for the project which would turn into some meta- or self-referential narrative I was very fond of then). I broke my promise two weeks later and asked a question to the class through a slide presentation: If the content of a promise is a mistake, should the promise be kept? I was indeed surprised by it when I was clearing my hard drive because, despite its messy form, those problems it provoked are deep and difficult which are very much what I am working on nowadays and I would have forgotten that they have such a ridiculous archetype. I felt nervous: have I made any real progress (such a modern[ist] idea) since then? My simple imagination of democracy was really hilarious and almost ironic which means symptomatic. The problem of promise was taken up again in Jirachi and the two keywords in that question — promise and mistake — point to revelation and knowledge respectively. Anyway, I would like to express my thanks to Werner for this lesson and the promised project was called Cloud (which was not intended to echo with the play of Aristophanes [who indeed cares about democracy a lot]) of which the content I completely forget though I know it is surely bad.
2017 substitution

the right hand of a man moving the second hand of a clock

I manually run a clock for a period of time. The image here is the second enactment of it. The first version has a rather dramatic opening (hammering the glass surface in order to reach the second hand of the clock) which is not documented.
2016 ontheground

man running with a speaker

I run (or at least tried to run) on the ground under which runs the train carrying a cumbersome speaker playing the sound of a train. My friend Tianhui puts an unusual emphasis on it, which is the reason I am still showing it.

My name is Qiuchen Wu. I was born in Shanghai, and live in Chicago now. This is my website and I hope you like it. Here is my email and I look forward to communicate with you :)