Emerson Contemporary, Emerson College’s platform for presenting contemporary visual art, proudly presents SURROUNDING, on view at the Media Art Gallery – 25 Avery Street, Boston – through May 12, 2024. This MFA in Film and Media Arts thesis exhibition explores sound, visuality, and touch through compelling multi-channel video and sculptural installations by visual artists and filmmakers Anny Dai ‘24, Yue Hua ‘24, and Tomás Orrego ’24. Free and open to the public, exhibition hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 12–6:00 p.m. After May 2, the gallery will be open by appointment and for special events.

SURROUNDING serves as a sensory testament to the lived experiences and reflections of three emerging artists. Dai’s Reveries Echo of Touch is an immersive, multi-sensory installation that challenges viewers to awaken their tactile sense while interacting with the piece. This interactive artwork combines sculptural objects, video projections, live video feed, and soundscapes created by the audience’s participation. Hua’s 16mm film installation Cine-labyrinth works to understand a sense of self through landscape projections and poetry. Mirroring the physical journey through the labyrinth, the entwining 16mm images induce a dream-like trance. In Tolerances of the human face Orrego explores absurdism through a single channel video installation of his film Fever. Entirely shot on a soundstage, the piece utilizes practical effects and a hyper stylized aesthetic that embraces artificiality.

Artist talks will take place during the Emerson’s Visual Media Art Department “Open House” on Tuesday, April 30 at 6 p.m., which is open to the public.

Public Programming

WHAT: Opening Reception
WHEN: Tuesday, April 16 from 5-7 p.m.
WHERE: Media Art Gallery, 25 Avery St. Boston

WHAT: Artist Talks
WHEN: Tuesday, April 30 from 6 p.m.onward including a live projection performance by Yue Hua
WHERE: Media Art Gallery, 25 Avery St. Boston

About the Artwork

Anny Dai’s Reveries Echo of Touch is an immersive, multi-sensory installation that challenges viewers to awaken their tactile sense while interacting with the piece. This interactive artwork combines sculptural objects, video projections, live video feed, and soundscapes created by the audience’s participation. The sculpture, covered in moss, is designed to be touched by the audience. As hands make contact with it, micro sounds are produced and captured by contact microphones embedded within, then amplified throughout the room. Subtle audio reactive effects are implemented into the video projection, emphasizing the audience’s part in the creation of this piece. A live video feed of the audience’s interaction with the sculpture is then sent to a screen outside of the room, pointing out the objective impacts of their actions in their environment.

Yue Hua’s Cine-labyrinth is a 16mm expanded cinema installation that bridges the inner and outer self. By walking through a rocky labyrinth with multi-layers of screens and overlaying projections, the audience steps into a world of cascading landscapes and whispered poetry. The projection is of landscapes of China and the United States, interspersed with direct animation of birds and poetry. Local stones are selected and arranged in a winding pattern, which mirrors the one the audience will navigate within themselves. While the audience follows the path to the center and then retraces their steps out, their shadows create ever-shifting silhouettes that become part of the installation. The sound design consists of immersive drone music, and the artist’s personal story – a journey from a small town in China to a path of self-discovery. Spoken words and poems woven into the visuals spark a thought-provoking dialogue, inspiring the audience to reflect on their search for belonging.

Tomás Orrego’sTolerances of the human face is a one channel video installation with sound that serves as an installation version of short absurd film Fever. In Fever we follow a man who is constantly interrupted by the ringing of a telephone as he desperately attempts to poke his eye out with a pencil. Taking inspiration from both Samuel Beckett's absurdist plays and the elastic logic found in children's animations, Fever is a live action flesh cartoon that plays with the destruction of the body, taking place in the confines of a single space. Entirely shot on a soundstage, Fever utilizes practical effects and a hyper stylized aesthetic that embraces artificiality.

About the Artists

Yue Hua/华越 is a filmmaker and multimedia artist, born and raised in China, currently based in Boston, MA. Her work delves into film, expanded cinema, and digital media, including projection, performance, installation, and production design. Yue’s art explores themes like spirit-body relationships, searching for belonging, and the female perspective. Her films and performances have been featured internationally at film festivals and galleries. She received her BFA in China Academy of Art and is currently pursuing her MFA in Film and Media Art at Emerson College. She teaches Analog film production at Emerson College and is a member of the AgX film collective – an artist-run film lab and collective.

Tomás Orrego (1991) is a Peruvian filmmaker, visual artist, and musician with a background in architecture. Spanning animation, design, collage, and installation, his work touches in a very idiosyncratic way the construction of male heterosexuality and the disruption of innocence. By using free association and an absurd approach, these themes are explored in an irrational way, eschewing logic, and embracing the drowsy consciousness of dreams. His animated short film Las Manos Que Ríen (2018) obtained Best Direction and Outstanding Artistic Achievement at the Insólito Festival de Cine de Terror y Fantasía and first place in the Made in Peru section at the Festival Al Este de Lima. His found footage video work, Justine, was screened as part of the Festival Internacional de Arte & Cine Queer in the El Fanny Cine Continuo cycle in Bogota, Colombia. In 2022, Hotwire My Heart, his latest film shot on 16mm, was part of the official selection of The Weird Local Film Festival in Boston and BizarroLand.

As a visual artist he has participated in exhibitions such as Verbo 15a mostra de performance arte in Galeria Vermelho in Sao Paulo, Brazil, #2: Generación Y in Y Gallery Lima and Unfinished Hase in Alte Handelsschule in Leipzig, Germany. In 2019, he had his second solo exhibition called Justine at Fundación Euroidiomas. In addition to this, he has participated in residency programs in Germany and Colombia. His work also extends to more commercial venues, having produced music videos for bands such as Liquidarlo Celulloide, Autobus and Mold! while also designing and animating live visuals for DJ sets and working as a creative director for BTL type events for renowned brands such as Kohler. He currently lives in Boston, taking part in the MFA Film and Media Art program at Emerson College, trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising and eating.

Anny Dai is a filmmaker, editor, and visual artist, currently based in Boston. Her art delves into the themes of women’s emotional and bodily experiences, relation between human mind and senses, and the liminal space between dreams and reality.Her work reflects a connection between artistic theories and practice. With an experimental approach, she employs literal metaphors to engage with complex theoretical questions. Continuing to explore new forms, materials and processes, she pushes the boundaries of traditional artistic expressions to seek alternative modes of representation. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film Studies and Mathematics, and is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Film and Media Arts at Emerson College

Still from "Reveries Echo of Touch" film, green mossy ground hand touching it with gauzy fabric in frame

About Emerson Contemporary

Emerson Contemporary is the College’s platform for showcasing contemporary visual art. It is focused on presenting living artists, their ideas, experiments and creative practices in the areas of media art, performance art and emergent technologies, while critically examining these works in their social context. Dr. Leonie Bradbury is Emerson Contemporary’s Distinguished Curator-in-Residence and the Henry and Lois Foster Chair of Contemporary Art Theory and Practice.

About the College

Based in Boston, Massachusetts, opposite the historic Boston Common and in the heart of the city’s Theatre District, Emerson College educates individuals who will solve problems and change the world through engaged leadership in communication and the arts, a mission informed by liberal learning. The College has approximately 4,161 undergraduates and 554 graduate students from across the United States and nearly 70 countries. Supported by state-of-the-art facilities and a renowned faculty, students participate in more than 90 student organizations and performance groups. Emerson is known for its experiential learning programs at Emerson Los Angeles, located in Hollywood, and at its 14th-century castle, in the Netherlands. Additionally, there are opportunities to study in Washington, DC, London, China, and the Czech Republic, Spain, Austria, Greece, France, Ireland, Mexico, Cuba, England, and South Africa. The College has an active network of 51,000+ alumni who hold leadership positions in communication and the arts. For more information, visit