Dao Tung


It seems to be


Three-channel video, black and white


Up the banyan, the ant climbs
Alas, dead-end, futile crawl
Up the peach tree, the ant creeps
Broken branches, to-and-fro

Vietnamese folk poem 
It seems to be details the psychological torture of an ant. Across the three-channel video installation, the ant is seen through, and forced to stay within, a circle, be it a circle of light coming from a torch, or a circle as framed by the camera. The first channel introduces the ant, or rather it is thrown into view by an anonymous hand that quickly grabs a stick to taunt (or perhaps discipline) its victim. Attempting to crawl away, the ant is met with the power of the stick – a nonsensical authority that tries to keep it in line, though at times the stick seems to toy with the ant just for the sick pleasure of it. Anxious and distressed, the ant is again confronted in the middle channel, this time with an unrelenting torch whose light follows its every move. Prevented from hiding, resting, or sleeping, the ant’s intense powerlessness is almost Kafkaesque: it is not just unable to escape, but unable to understand what is happening. In the final channel, without a hand or torch for scale, the ant now seems magnified, as if a giant insect navigating the surface of the moon. Feeling lost, the ant continues to run in circles without realizing that there is no exit.