For over five months, Zhou situated himself in an underdeveloped village surrounded by the high skyscrapers of Guangzhou to produce South Stone. Interweaving footage of a village’s landscape, residents, and animals with his seemingly absurd interventions with the place, South Stone indicates the equally incoherent social reality. Fluctuating between documentary and fiction, the film catalyzes alternative connections in time, and the emergence of imaginative spaces.
Created for the Seventh Shanghai Biennale at the Shanghai Art Museum, Zhou Tao’s 1,2,3,4 records morning staff meetings in over forty shops and companies in the immediate vicinity of the People’s Square. Regardless of occupation, the employees count off and move in step to the rhythms of their companies’ corporate songs or chants, which are meant to build team spirit and corporate loyalty. Zhou’s practice alchemizes the ordinary surroundings into a theatre where his camera is not simply a recording apparatus but an extension of existence.
Rather than "making" a film, Zhou Tao declares that he "looks for it", through various places, architectures, people or communities, as their gradually catch his sight. Zhou Tao’s films borrow a certain stillness and contemplative posture from the documentary, while introducing actions that relate to a scenario.
There is no single entry to the practice of Zhou Tao, who denies the existence of any singular or real narrative or space. Through often subtle and humorous interactions with people, things, actions, and situations, Zhou’s videos invites us to experience the multiple trajectories of reality—what he calls the “folding scenario” or the “zone with folds.” For him, the use of video is not a deliberate choice of artistic language or medium, instead the operation of the camera is a way of being that blends itself with everyday life.