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Yifan He

Yifan He, is an interdisciplinary artist based in London. They send out edible letters, animate sculptural objects and make videos, video games, and prints. Yifan’s practice explores our extended avatars across different worlds. They are interested in challenging the borders between bodies and initiating intimate relationships with every'body' involved in the process of making/playing/eating. Yifan is the appointed artist in residence at UCL SPiDER (the Sustainable Physical and Digital spaces for Education and Research project), currently building a chatbot for people to talk to in public toilets. Their writing Embodiment and Disembodiment in Tech is published in the new issue of Broad Street Humanities Review. Yifan was also commissioned at the conference on EU Digital Futures, CTM Festival 2021 and Margate Now 2020.


I want to develop the work ‘A Play’ with the instructors given the residence opportunity. ‘A Play’ (title placeholder) will be a live performance and/or a video work of the recorded performance (by actors or avatars from a selected game world). I would use Unity, Blender, and Aftereffect to enhance or create the space that hosts the performance. ‘A Play’ follows the script I am writing, inspired by a dream of holding my skin. An excerpt from the script: ‘I had a bad dream she said. He, all of a sudden, developed sympathy. It was horrible, she said. In my dream I could take my face off of me, it was not just the skin, It was chunky and heavy. I could take the multilayered the front of my face off of me. [Big velvety fabric drops on the stage. Now there’s a table and chairs, they sit across]. … From certain points onward, anyway, peeling off my chunky shell skin (?) sandwiched eyes and whatnot become an unconscious bad habit. Splinter, like playing with your splinters. It hurts very little and it kills time. A kind of fidgeting. Disgusted or amazed or some feeling that is much more neutral towards the baby fresh red new skin. Like drinking milk. [The stage darkens. Only candle lights were allowed to light up the corners of the stage. There’s a projection on the other wall of the room, of a veranda window, long windows attached to the doors, white wooden frame outside of the window is the desktop blue.] [The girl lies on the velvety crumble ruffled fabric. Her friend leaning over, hands covered in white powder, slides into the girl’s mouth until she gags.] Like drinking milk [he recites the last sentence in her voice. Then slowly retreating fingers and palm wiping them on the fabric underneath them, the girl’s body is still shivering from swallowing milk. He keeps on telling the story in her voice] … ’ This work explores intimacy and the extended self, where entities are not wrapped in the skin, the character(s) overflows, echos, and bleeds into each other, each self. This work is developed from my research and thinking on the embodiment of tech (the material aspect of technology, the exploitation and exhaustion of physical meat suits, back pains and sore eyes) and queer bodies enabled by tech (avatars, personas, affordable mutations, gorgeous transitions), and the overlapping of the different worlds (what we experienced with the multiple avatars across different worlds bleed into each other, we drag along the baggage of disparities and abuse from the afk and download fantasies and care and love from the urls).

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