Breath Fractals

Initially, the music of Chik White (Darcy Spidle of rural Nova Scotia) and Xuan Ye (Toronto) are drastically different. Spidle improvises using the jaw harp, one of the world’s most ancient instruments, on a series of stimulating and freshly invigorating releases, including two recent tapes on Notice. Xuan Ye has developed a dense, fascinating, radically cutting edge synthesis of video and aural performance, somatics, and computer programming, engaging acoustic instruments, voice, field recordings, and strangled frequencies. Spidle has a deep and intense relationship with the ocean; its many guises and characteristics have provided a catalyst for a personal and unique body of work, one that is devoted to his oceanic surroundings and the natural phenomena inherent to its existence. Both artists reference not only outsider folk traditions, but also esoteric strains of the avant-garde, noise, field recordings, and sound collage.

This intimate release reveals their strong musical interplay, evident in the physicality and palpability of the tracks presented. Both are dedicated to the generation of raw sound, while reducing language into its constituent physical parts, as if dramatizing the struggle of human expression. They explore instrument and voice along what feels like very short and concise distances. At times, they branch out into explorations of spaces and objects that feel curious and almost narrative, with the “voice” often present but never remotely understandable. Both artists’ boundary-pushing of physical performance finds a new route in this collaboration.


XY: voice, Toronto ON, 2017


CW: jaw harp and voice, Chezzetcook NS, 2018

as if by a bell

XY: voice and percussion, Long Island NY, 2016

long may I sleep

XY: voice, CW: jarp harp, Toronto ON / Chezzetcook NS, 2017

homing hymn

CW: jaw harp and voice, Cheezetcook NS, 2018

polyphony of breath fractals no.2

XY: voice, CW: jaw harp, Toronto ON / Chezzetcook NS, 2017

polyphony of breath fractals no.1

XY: voice, CW: jaw harp, Toronto ON / Chezzetcook NS, 2017


CW: jaw harp, Chezzetcook NS, 2017

escalate, escalate

XY: field recordings, various, 2017

omnivore machine

XY: field recording, CW: vocal noise, Toronto ON / Chezzetcook NS, 2017


XY: field recordings, various, 2016

Recorded by Xuan Ye and Darcy Spidle
Mastered by Kyle McDonald
Videos & Source artwork by Xuan Ye
Layout by E. Lindorff-Ellery
Letterpress printed by Small Fires Press, New Orleans
Duplicated by Cryptic Carousel

feng shan

feng shan 1.0 2018

For Fans, Microphones, Electronics

Live at Emergents Series (curated by Sara Constant), Music Gallery, 2018. Fig. 1 & 3 Photo by Claire Harvie. Fig. 2 Photo by Kristian Fourier

feng shan 2.0 2019

ZMY031 split tape

Whose wind is that?
Never flow a fan.
It’s not the sound,
All glaciers melt
not the move.
of distant,
confused waves.
The only other sound
Is the break
And birds awake.
The spectrum is
a flocculent spectrum.
Recurring ebbs.
Sister. Snows.
Snare. Sling.
Plethora of
Vibrant matters.
You, and me,
and their clouds
And network,
And networks.
Low voices expand.
The wind is breathing,
Not the fan.
Unformed and deep,
It’s not the wind.




fin 2018

dimension variable

interactive web installation


commissioned by Bcc:, Decoy Magazine in 2018

fin 2017 – 2018

dimension variable

real-time image data feed projection, 15 laser-engraved mirrors, mirror film, metal structures

Fin invites scanning eyes and scattered attentions for a grand cruise in the G=A=R=D=E=N teeming with life and stories depicted in the ocean of stock images, where a total textual-visual archive that is also an ideal existence constitutes a simulacrum of the over-simplified world, the textual-visual environment that feeds us and that at the same time we interoperate within. The title Fin refers to the shape of the installation which looks like the flattened appendage commonly seen on aquatic earthlings used to navigate in the water. And in Fin, which also means the end of film or narrative in French, the Fin cuts through the pixel waves from one urban landscape (commercial signages) to another that is constructed by a networked archive of stock photography, deploying vision and hope for the ideal habitat or the end place we call “home”.



duration & dimension variable




installation view, Soft Refractions, Toronto, Canada 2018. Photo by Polina Teif.

IN BETWEEN () WE OSCILLATE animates pairs of English antonyms as data in the form of a sound wave spectrum. The words are from an antonym database found in an ESL textbook. As the words scroll across the screen, a soundtrack is played back that translates the visualization of all antonym pairs as one spectrogram into audible frequencies. Considering language as materials, and the web as infrastructure and site, IN BETWEEN () WE OSCILLATE sculpts a neon light that is always on the move, and impossible to materialize in the physical realm. The disquieting statement literally conveys the precarity of our time — we exist within the bifurcations, dilemmas, and dichotomies. It echoes the current global socio-political environment, where the proliferation of the digital and non-human, as well as diasporization and migration, point to a reality and subjectivity that are in a constant flux of oscillation.


EveryLetterCyborg V1.3 2018

duration & dimension variable

interactive web installation, webVR, projection mapping, generative music

installation views, ​digital artist in residency, InterAccess, 2018. Fig. 1 – 6 Photo by Megan Maclaurin

EveryLetterCyborg V1.2 2017 – 2018

dimension variable

twitterbot @qletrcyborg, raspberry pi, thermal printer module, microphone stand, laser-engraved mirror

EveryLetterCyborg V1.1 2016 – 2017

dimension variable

interactive web installation, tablet, keyboard, speakers

Fig. 12 installation view, Border Resonance, Goethe Institut, Beijing, China 2018. Photo by Wenxin Zhang


XVK 2017


XVK, aka @XVK_XVK is an asian-girl-band-artist-collective of members Xuan Ye, Véronique Sunatori and Sara Kay Maston. The collective’s body of work combines images, video, performance, and sculptural objects. XVK employs the “Asian-pop-girl-band” trope to deconstruct narratives and myths of “Asian girl” stereotypes, and to critique the capitalist exploitation and fetishism of females in idol industry. Appropriating the persona of the pop star, XVK introduces vulnerability, anger, defiance, humor, boredom, and anxiety that are often neglected in celebrity and idol culture centered around East Asia. In the wake of the concurrent socio-political environment, and around the circulation of disinformation, XVK searches for an alternative history suggesting a praxis of activism that functions beyond the conventional white box context. Eliminating sound as the core of the pop music machine, XVK has released two singles which are performed as silent music videos.



duration & dimension variable



d a n g e r is one of the flip sides of g a r d e n

Related work: Telematic Allergies

I, It’s, The

dimension variable

animation (silent, 8 min), projection mapping, canvas scroll, metal structure on wheels, dead clock

Purple, blue, green — “subway…make.every..effort.cannot.attend…” the rhythmical form of a random email called for my attention. The color codes and the broken sentences constitute a kind of visual musicality enacted by the standard email format when previous correspondences are forwarded and embedded in the current one.

Intrigued by this serendipitous configuration, I started to recreate the situation, i.e. writing an email. I started a process that uses the Quick Typing function embedded in smart phones to make sentences and email correspondences to myself. The process thus becomes a dialog between myself and the consumer-grade artificial intelligence system that enables the quick typing function. “I, It’s, The” were the first three words that the message app suggested I start a conversation with (dialog starter). The Quick Typing function would keep suggesting new three word sets without exhausting itself. Following this process, it took 50 attempts before the dialog starter changed its opening approach into something new.

The AI-enacted language is informed by my own habits of using language (recording all typing interactions with the phone). The act of communicating with “sometimes-me” skews the boundaries between human and machine, line by line. To and fro, the textual process unites body and machine while prioritizing neither entity. The final collage of text is illogical, whimsical, and sometimes contradictory, for example: “The only one thing that sounds good is that it doesn’t sound good”.

Bakhtin posits that “the ideological becoming of a human being… is the process of selectively assimilating the words of others.” During the process of I, It’s, The, the human being cedes partial authorship to the machine, while the machine is tasked with assimilating the partially human. I, It’s, The enables the becoming of a posthuman body, during which the “self” dilutes.

The installation is informed by the metaphor of “water” as fluid consciousness, and “cascade” as a form of linear process which includes (without being limited to) thinking, reading, and writing.

Lines generated out of the “I, It’s The” process are made into various typographic logs floating in the 3D-simulated water animation. As visual poetry draws the reader’s attention to the material production of the text and how a text might be constrained by its material conditions, the visual letterforms create a visual field in which all parts are tangential to the whole, which is, in turn created as a figure from their efforts, their direction, their non-alignment (Cristofovici). The use of an ornate typeface creates a visual continuity between the text and its net art ancestors, while the chaotic syntax of the lines and their many “entendres” suggest an entirely alternative and not-yet-defined signifier. It looks familiar but not really.

Like the scrolling gesture used in mobile phones for reading, the flow of text is animated to float up which is against the natural/common expectation of a waterfall, as if mind data is cascading free from gravitated linear conventions. Corresponding to different sensual registers, the visual textual flow that contains the illogic syntax of the lines is subject to a purely decorative prosody, just as the entangling capacity of human mind and artificial intelligence is constrained in meaning-becoming.



artist multiples, 2020


installation view, Wear Your Soul in Wordy Yesterday Gold, Xpace Cultural Centre, Toronto, Canada, 2019. Photo by Polina Teif

installation view, What You See is Where You Go, Trinity Square Video, Toronto, Canada, 2018


installation view, AGYU Vitrines, Toronto, Canada, 2017. photo by Yuula Benivolski

W.Y.I.S.I.W.Y.G features the GUI caret icon as a light sculpture displayed against a patterned wall with checkers indicating transparency in graphic programs. The vitrine is hereby virtualized into a space that signifies a vacuum ad infinitum. Originally shown as What You See is Where You Go, the second iteration, Wear Your Soul in Wordy Yesterday Gold takes the idea of ultimate asemia further — on the blinking brink of “I”, we stand at the metalinguistic door and set our feet in the undertows of cyber sea, taking refuge in the noise, forever waiting on meanings to dawn.

Invisible Parallel


2016.01.30 Duration & Dialogue Performance Art Festival/Symposium, Katzman Contemporary, Toronto, Canada

2016.09.02 – 2016.11.06 Banyan Travel Agency (Banyan Commune Project), Times Museum, Guangzhou, China

a collaboration with Jason Doell

Invisible Parallel is a performance-installation for two remote performers who track their paths to the destination (exhibition space/venue) by live streaming field recording of their separate trajectories. At the same time, two speakers installed in the destination are streaming the sounds that each performer records respectively – each speaker reporting a separate aural journey. From the perspective of the audience, both sources of transient urban soundscapes combine into one sound piece in the absence of the performers who are unaware of the other’s contribution to the collaboration. The emergent result is two disparate field recordings heard as one integrated sonic phenomenon on which the audience overlay their own notions of space, and landscape. Invisible Parallel explores how digital technology as the prosthesis of body represents the absent body, as well as the effect of adjacency and duration on the spatial and temporal consciousness through auditory sense.