Dragonfly Eyes. 2017. China. Directed by Xu Bing. DCP. In Mandarin; English subtitles. 81 min.
Few images come closer to reality than those recorded by surveillance cameras. In China, a country with strict film censorship, an estimated 200 million such cameras have been installed to capture life unfiltered; mundane daily activities are mixed with dramatic events beyond the realm of imagination. Visual artist Xu Bing’s first feature film stitches together surveillance footage collected from the Internet to create a fictional tale about a young woman traversing life in modern China. The result is a provocative tale as mundane, surreal, and outlandish as reality itself. Known for works that consistently disrupt our understanding of what we see—from Book from the Sky, an installation of books and scrolls with printed “fake” Chinese characters, to Phoenix, giant phoenix sculptures made of salvaged materials—Xu persistently explores the relationship between vision and meaning.