When a friend gave artist Yakun Chen a discarded circuit board, ideas started popping in her mind. “I was so obsessed with the pattern of it, those little things on the front side and on the back side,” she recalled. “My first thought was to create a city, but I realized it might be a little clichéd just to create a city based on a circuit board, because other people have done that. Then I thought maybe it would be more interesting to have it move rather than be a still image. So I started to create a 3-D animation about it.”
Chen spoke to Pasatiempo from Los Angeles between semesters at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she is an MFA candidate. What she came up with from that little electronic artifact is the piece called Neverend (Land).
She created the moving piece — holographic-projection animations in two mirrorlike pyramids — using the Cinema 4D software. “I wanted the animation to be in a loop. The city is born from an egg shape; and all of the components fall from the sky, piece by piece, so the city is constructed block by block; and it goes through a couple of transitions, and then it disappears, piece by piece again. I created the above-ground city and the underground city because I think it is interesting to see both. Usually we only see the above-ground city, but there are lots of structures underground.”
The patterns were created based on the pattern on the two sides of a circuit board. One side is overtly dimensional, with its variety of diodes, transistors, capacitors, and other components, while the other side is a flatter array of soldered electrical-pathway structures. “So both cities are floating in the darkness and go through the journey from birth to deconstruction. It feels like a miniature version of our world because all the components self-perpetuate in some way. The reason I didn’t make it bigger is I want people to get closer to it and pay close attention to it and maybe stay for a minute or two and look into this small world that is a small version of the real world.”
Neverend (Land) is displayed at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe from Friday, June 10, to June 26.