Commissioned by Site Gallery in 2020, Phantom combines Fan’s aptitudes for embodied performance and technology. Using Motion-Capture (Mo-Cap) technology, Fan choreographed motion sequences that are performed by ghost-like avatars. The artist used indie game software to develop a digital environment where users encounter these uncanny, phantasmic creatures. The digital expanse is filled with virtual plant life, appearing almost lurid green against the dark background, rendered smooth – a texture reminiscent of early PlayStation graphics.
In behind-the-scenes footage of Fan’s creative process, she combines her expert vocabulary in contemporary dance, combining gentle gestures and pirouettes with the disjointed, manufactured gesture of video games. She produces organic motion – portraying the organic heaviness of human limbs. She sways, Bambi-like as if learning to negotiate their weight, before suddenly jerking into rigid t-shapes of a video game avatar. It is an expert study in the translation of human motions into the gravity-stripped realm of cyberspace.
During a podcast with Agora curator Adrian St.Clair, Fan refers to Legacy Russell’s Glitch Feminism – a manifesto that uses the technological glitch to challenge the idea that bodies should conform to heteronormative standards and desires. The glitch, often thought of as a technological error, has become a visual tool for contemporary artists that explore the hierarchy between our ‘IRL’ (in real life) selves and virtual lives. Fan’s work uses the feminine body in virtual space, calling attention to the connection between digital and real-life existences. She considers the way human spirituality and fallibility intertwines with the lives that we live online-bridging the divide between the glitch and the ‘human’ body.
These themes appear in Phantom – Fan creates bodies that do not respond to our whims – asking if digital lives exist purely for our pleasure? Their almost-human, feminised form suddenly twists and contorts in a grotesque manner. According to Site Gallery, Fan could not have perceived the glitch-like errors when creating this work, adding unpredictability to the digital world. Phantom shows us the possibility of Digital Art that exists outside of ‘human design and intention’.