Yu Honglei, Teapot, 2014 Sculpture, stainless steel and paint 55 x 50 x 70 cm
Yu Honglei, Teapot, 2014, Sculpture, stainless steel and paint, 55 x 50 x 70 cm

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.

Zhou Siwei, Landscape Carrier 01, 2013 Glass, digital print, 3D print, 170 x 70 cm
Zhou Siwei, Landscape Carrier 01, 2013, Glass, digital print, 3D print, 170 x 70 cm

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