Installation view, Wu Tsang, Of Whales, 2022, the 59th Venice Biennale. Photos by Matteo De Fina. Courtesy the artist; Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin; Antenna Space, Shanghai; Cabinet, London.
Wu Tsang (born 1982 in Worcester, Massachusetts) is a cross-disciplinary artist who makes narrative and documentary film, live performance, and video installations. The immersive installation Of Whales forms part of her filmic trilogy inspired by Herman Melville’s classic 1851 American novel Moby Dick. Of Whales offers a poetic meditation on the perspective of a sperm whale, who plunges to the depths of the ocean for an hour at a time, surfacing occasionally for a breath of air. Created on the Unity gaming platform with XR (extended reality) technologies, the dynamically generated real-time video and sound installation immerses viewers in a lush, dreamy oceanscape for imagination, contemplation, and provocation. First presented at the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022, the work features a musical score composed by Asma Maroof and Daniel Pineda, with Tapiwa Svosve, Jalalu-Kalvert Nelson, Miao Zhao, and Ahya Simone. The score blends horns, saxophone, clarinet, and contrabass, in a multi-layered soundscape that fills the entire gallery space. At the ICA, Of Whales is presented in a gallery adjacent to the Boston Harbor, connecting audiences to the ICA’s waterside location and referencing New England’s whaling history.