Yuan Goang-Ming works predominantly with new media, digital photography and video.

Although a powerful tool for contemporary artists, digital and computer technology brings its own set of problems: in transferring video footage to digital media, through the use of a computer, it is often the case that frames are ‘dropped’ or lost in the transfer (although this is entirely dependent on the power and processing speed of the computer). It is this potential for elements or even whole sequences to be ‘lost’ that fascinates Goang-Ming and allows him to cross the centuries in his references – from Yuan Dynasty Chinese landscape painting at one extreme to twenty-first-century digital technology at the other.

Taking more than 300 photographs over the course of two weeks from the top of one of Liverpool’s landmark buildings, the St John’s Beacon (Radio City tower), Yuan Goang-Ming produced a large-format, high-resolution digital film depicting the urban landscape. Seen from a high angle, distinctive architecture, street layout, lights and signs clearly mark the place as the city centre of Liverpool. But the silence of this scene is strangely disconcerting and it became quickly apparent that there is something wrong: every vestige of human presence had been painstakingly removed by Guang-Ming. No cars, no people, just an empty urban landscape – an incomplete city, a city disqualified.

Is it possible for a city to function in any way without its cast of players? Advertising, for example, a particular set of symbols, relies on its viewers; it has no function without the potential to communicate the desire for some product or (un)necessary consumable. Without us the language of advertising, and adverts themselves become redundant, disempowered.

Guang-Ming is fascinated by failure, and in removing the human element from a city proves that it is our presence that gives a city its life. While Danny Boyle’s success with his cult film 28 Days Later (2002) shows us the empty city as a signifier of apocalyptic disaster, Guang-Ming’s empty city is a powerful statement of the need for our continued survival.

City Disqualified – Liverpool, 2004
Video Installation
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial 2004
Exhibited at Tate Liverpool



Visiting Arts
The Henry Moore Foundation