Sounds of the Boundless Ocean is a body of work consisting of an installation, a soundtrack, a photograph and a performance. It is inspired by the trans-pacific journey that 19th-century Chinese immigrants embarked towards San Francisco. The installation evokes the immigrants' sense of hope and loneliness during the arduous passage, yet hints at what awaited them in the decades and a century to come. Tensions are emphasized throughout the piece; the tight ropes contrast with soft curves of the balloons, while the dim lights inside flicker to the thuds from the soundtrack. The kinetic construction and the live performance fuse the artist with the diasporic community. Meanwhile, the movements shuttle the audience between the past and the present, drawing a lineage between historical racial trauma and contemporary immigrant experience. The balloons, while light and buoyant, are fragile and ultimately not in control of their fate, which serve as a metaphor for the immigrant labor exploited in building the American Empire.

Installation: 150’'(W) x 180''(L) x 160’'(H) | balloons, LED lights, LED controller, electrical wires, ropes, pulleys, railroad spikes, fabrics
Soundtrack: 7 minutes | two-channel sound recording, four speakers
Photograph: 24’’ x 36’’ | archival inkjet print
Performance: 7 minutes | performed live at the Coulter Gallery on February 22, 2023

Exhibited at the Coulter Gallery at Stanford University
February 21 - March 17, 2023



Installation view:


Yunfei Ren | All Rights Reserved