Date of Award

Spring 6-6-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


Digital Media

First Advisor

Mark Cetilia

Second Advisor

Mairead Byrne

Third Advisor

Nora Khan


Propelled by questions about the genuine understanding of weather, I attempt to find various collaborative methods with water in different states in the hydrological cycle. Through these methods, I receive input from water directly, mediating with technologies humans use as a way to understand and perceive the world. The marks that emerge from these inputs are crypto-linguistic scripts that whisper water’s memories and characteristics, a form of gestural automatism where the immediate experience of (nature’s) creating is emphasized and the (human’s) conscious mind is diluted. This state of receptivity enables us to dissolve the hard shell of vision so we can pass into a more expansive appreciation and a more comprehensive understanding of the elemental world.

I adapted my collaborative methods using various tools according to my collaborators’ characteristics (I prefer to call the different aspects of nature I work with my collaborators). For the sea, I used engraved wood boards (Chapter 8); for raindrops, I used water transfer printing (Chapter 4); for river water, I used metal sheets (Chapter 7); for clouds, I used mirrors and an antenna (Chapter 2). This style of collaboration creates a space between my collaborators and me where the authorship can flow and shift. I feel that my collaborators are the artists and I am their assistant or curator. For example, if they are writers, I am the one who helps them prepare the paper and ink. But their creation is actually limited by the tools I provide them, just like our thinking is limited by language, so the authorship still flows back and forth (Chapter 3). Text is a recurring element among these methods. Most of the tools I used helped my collaborators manifest and leave marks that altered the texts in their own language that is illegible to humans. They are crypto-linguistic scripts that remind us of nature’s unknowability. And that realization is the starting point of dissolving the hard shell of our vision (Chapter 6).


View exhibition online: Zhanyi Chen, Do Clouds Hate Weather Satellites?



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