In the ubiquitous three-dimensional modeling and rendering software 3ds Max, the humble teapot is among about a dozen built-in objects, standing out rather awkwardly among other geometrical shapes due to its asymmetry. The Utah teapot, as it is known, is a well-known example of a parametric object, a meta-image of high symbolic value as a free, open-source model that can be edited, manipulated, and reused at the user’s discretion. In Zhou Siwei’s Landscape Carrier, a 3D-printed Utah teapot is cut open so a missing section appears to have disappeared under the floor and supports two corners of a piece of glass bearing images of beautiful scenery. By the artist’s account, the choice to superimpose a collage of images over a pane of colored glass diminishes the order and direction of the piece as a whole, encouraging the viewer to approach it from any point he or she prefers by pointing out the inauthenticity of his imagery.
Yu Honglei’s sculpture Teapot, on the other hand, is a practice in wordplay. He presents the process of abstraction that takes an object from name to physical representation: the term “artist” is broken down to “art is t,” which is to say, the artist becomes a container for art as a teapot is for tea. A teapot without a bottom is stripped of its original superficial function; instead, it becomes a prophecy suspended in midair.
Text by Sasha Zhao
Translated by Frank Qian