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Public Sphere

Kangni Guo

Kangni is an integrated-media artist from an Interior-Design background. This experience enables her to think of the city in an inventory and grid-like way, collecting inspiring elements selectively. Creating ‘undesirable’ works that seem unruly rather than a quest for good art to express her aspirations is her way of collaborating with her creations. The focus on the research process at the RCA has shifted her interest from broader ideas to the things around her, things which hold a more visceral importance. As a careful observer, she aims to draw the viewer’s attention to these overlooked aspects of life, unearthing and exposing the lost land between the known and the unknown, the seen and the unseen. There’s a strong atmosphere of social concern in her darkly playful work.

Kangni Guo-statement

In public sphere, the relationship between individuals and environment they live in always pique my interest of art creation. As an artist, I really enjoy the freedom of work with various mediums and forms, including oil paintings, conceptual installations, symbolic 3D works, reflective sketches, behavioral performance and city projects. Also, I am always intrigued by the subtle relationship between human beings and a sense of boundaries, between fulfillment of individual values and social obligations.  

MONUMENTAL RELIEF, Medium Density Model Foam

This piece provided the series of works with their title, ‘The Getaway Manual’. The futuristic shape of Vladimir Tatlin’s evolutionary ‘Monument to the Third International’ (DATE) led me to think of the shell, Penion maximus: this kind of shape was like a listening-in device in the mid-century, which could supervise public activity from a private room. It reminded me of the cold reality that we are under a kind of surveillance every day. 

I designed a relief, using cheap Medium-density Foam (following Tatlin’s economy with materials) and a robot arm to make the piece. As a result, the relief is fragile but smooth- looking, and its structural practicality is questionable. The relief shows a flag with the text ‘The Getaway Manual’, ironically carried by a clown. 

We cannot truly escape our life at any time, but we can investigate and explore tiny options for happiness or even more. ‘The Getaway Manual’ series aim to enable us to take the role of neutral investigator for the unlimited purpose of constructing an ideal form of urban space and living.


Medium Density Model Foam


150cm x 50cm x 5cm
ENVIRONMENTAL RENDERER, Aluminium, glass, wood, paint and rivets

A wall lamp is on the left, a frame-sculpture in the centre, and a wall-mounted shelf on the right to form a display of a balanced indoor environment we generally recognize. And this is the ‘environmental renderer’ I have made. On the left, the main body of the wall lamp made of glass which is the colour of human teeth. When making coloured glass, the pigment layer has to be first softened and then clear glass wrapped around it. Air is inserted through a pipe, and the two layers are melded together. To a certain extent, the glass layer achieves coloration, like the dentine and enamel of human teeth. On the other hand, human teeth comprise a stable porous organic material, so there is space for microbes to proliferate but they can last for a very long time, and are thus a very remarkable substance. Jade Bi is a symbol of longevity, luck, wealth, and social status. Like glass, jade is fragile. I set the shape of the glass into that of Jade Bi (Han Dynasty) but with the colour of human teeth, and filled with air to wrap and seal the capsule of best wishes within this piece of artwork. 

At the centre of the installation, there is an empty riveted-aluminium frame. The work itself is missing to reflect the project theme ‘The Getaway Manual’, and also make the vacant centre space a tabula rasa, to make the scene feel provisional and heightening the feeling of futility. The process of connecting the aluminium sheets together made me feel that I was performing a minimally invasive form of metal surgery: first, you create a tiny hole, then use rivets to ‘sew’ two pieces together. While arranging the sheets, the boundaries changed; it was like a ‘Society Surgery’. Thus I was trimming aluminium sheets into random rectangular pieces, then usingrivets to rearrange and combine them together to reorganize the social order. In the midst of the chaos, my action performs a reordering, a mending, through repetitive hammering movements on aluminium.

On the right…


Aluminium, glass, wood, paint and rivets


190cm x 61cm x 5.5cm
THE SPIDER BAND, Wood, polyethylene, arduino and oil paint

Based on John Cage’s silent music, I created a spider band. I set a model of the human brains on a robot, which has three groups of legs, consisting of two spider feet which cause it to move awkwardly. I use these movements to compose music. The very bodies of organisms are instruments. The spider perceives every vibration on its web through a small crack in the foot. ‘The fly is already mapped, signalled, its place accommodated in the spider’s bodily behaviour before any particular spider has encountered any particular fly.’ -‘Chaos, Territory, Art’ by Elizabeth Grosz


Wood, polyethylene, arduino and oil paint


35cm x 20cm x 8cm

Based on the idea that 'vision has an essential relationship to being.' I created a visual 'translated community’. The characters can't interact with you through the handle controller, which means the audience do not have any power of control. The idea is to reveal the hypocrisy behind a dominant selling point in visual art today which encourages participants to feel that they are engaging.

The main feature is a highway –  ‘autobahn’ in German, which reads like the word for utopia in Chinese - a public infrastructure, essentially an ensemble of dimensions and ambitions of power with specific rules. It creates a “hierarchy” through overpasses and underpasses, but people call it a ‘freeway'. I put Chinese and English handwritten texts which record words and sentences that I'm not familiar with on the highway signs to make the audience ‘get lost’. The content of these sheets is messy and nihilistic. The audience may feel how the language of a country acts like a filter, dispersing people if they follow the road signs. On the flip side, language is our form of being together. Art, as a universal language, transcends most national borders, eliminating the difference between communication and behavioural observation. 

I would like to make people re-examine things around them in everyday life by deciphering the meanings of visual elements, encouraging them to form an independent appreciation of the environment we live in from the perspective of art. People can translate digital images into words and languages and shape their perception of reality’s surroundings. 


Virtue reality