Wenhua Shi - On Time

  • Because the Sky is Blue
  • Descending a Staircase
  • Concrete: Boston City Hall
  • Senses of Time
  • Gutai
  • Walking Cycle
  • Die Nacht
  • The Rose
  • Monosabishii


SKB 2500 Sat, Mar 30 1:00 PM



U-M Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies

On Time is a selection of moving image works from the recent decade. Over the past ten years, we have been faced with the unexpected. The demands from all sides became monumentally heavy. looking through the viewfinder is my way of being in the moment. Editing becomes a new way of rediscovering / investigating the experiences and measurement of time.

Because the Sky is Blue

Wenhua Shi
Wuhan, China | 2020–2022 | 4 | 35mm

Muybridge captured the galloping horse one hundred forty years ago in a brief 12 frames. The durations of today’s social media video clips are similar to Muybridge's brevity. Wenhua tries to reimagine what subject Muybridge would capture today. All source footage is from Wenhua’s social media feed. He used the cyanotype method to reprint the individual frames, creating the final short videos.

Descending a Staircase

Wenhua Shi
Beijing, China | 2012–2014 | 6 | 35mm

This work pays homage to Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase. Created one hundred years after the original piece, it is a meditation on the mechanical nature of cinema and moving images, both through its dynamic movement and fragmentation. The footage was captured at an apartment building in Beijing, China. Steadicam by Patrick Selvage. Girl by Jiang Shu.

Concrete: Boston City Hall

Wenhua Shi
Boston, MA | 2021 | 22 | 35mm

Image: concrete. Turn the image upside down: nothing more, nothing else, nothing. During the pandemic, drones flying over the empty city became oversaturated. Media coverage fixed our imagination into one way of reading a city/space. I return to the idea of ma”—empty or open spaces (interval or pause in time). This piece was created with this additional perspective, creating a contrast to City Hall, legendary documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman’s four-hour long film.. Here I try to present the meditational quality of the empty city hall. The project was presented by local art organization Non-Event with support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Senses of Time

Wenhua Shi
New York, NY / Boston, MA | 2018 | 6 | 16mm

”Senses of Time” depicts the lyrical and poetic passage of time. The work focuses on defining subjective and perceptual time with close attention to stillness, decay, disappearance, and ruins.


Wenhua Shi
Shanghai & Wuhan, China / Boston, MA | 2019–2020 | 6 | 16mm

Wenhua took on a radical use of single frame image capture and examines his strange and familiar hometown in China, which he has been away from for nearly two decades. The film title comes from postwar Japanese avant-garde artist group Gu-Tai. The kanji used to write gu means “tool,” “measure,” or “a way of doing something,” while tai means “body.” The film is the result of intense looking, seeing what might not be there.

Walking Cycle

New York & Hamilton, NY | 2016 | 8 | digital file

Walking Cycle is an abstract audiovisual piece that celebrates the line, its quality, and its movements. Sound by Wang Changcun. Created at the Signal Culture artist residency, Owego, NY.

Die Nacht

Wenhua Shi
Boston, MA | 2017 | 4 | digital file

A prelude to Senses of Time, dedicated to Phil Solomon.

The Rose

Wenhua Shi
Wuhan, China | 2019 | 4 | digital file

Shi's most recent experimental piece, The Rose alters the space of a newly planted rose, overgrown through an iron fence. The film explores the perception of the relationship between foreground and background. The process of editing pays tribute to the thaumatrope, the bird-in-a-cage optical toy from the pre-cinema period.


Wenhua Shi
Boston, MA | 2023 | 5 | double 16mm

A visual poem was composed when no one is at home.