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. Zhou’s practice alchemizes the ordinary surroundings into a theatre where he superimposes and interchanges the background and the stage, the viewer and the actor, the fact and the story line, the documentation and the representation. His camera is not simply a recording apparatus but an extension of existence, which requires active participation. The images it produces are not just detached spectacles: They are the agents that reveal the theatrical details suffused in mundane life.
There is no single entry to the practice of Zhou Tao, who combines video with photographs, drawings and built environments to challenge our perception of any singular or real narrative or space. Through subtle and humorous interactions with people, objects, and environments, and through an intuitive editing process that creates a montage of scenes from various locations to appear as one, Zhou Tao’s videos invite us to experience the multiple trajectories of reality—what he calls the “folding scenario” or the “zone with folds.” The spaces he depicts are often transitional or in between: edges of roads, a concrete underpass beneath a bridge, overgrown plants in forgotten areas inside cities are often the protagonists. Also focusing on the communities that inhabit these spaces, his work lacks narrative but is instead rooted in the gaze of his lens, moving around nature, urban scapes and their dwellers, almost as a form of documentary. 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. As the artist describes it he is influenced by a consciousness in performance which is then viewed through the moving image: “my relationship with reality and with the filmed image.” In his thoughtful and speculative approach his camera is not simply a recording apparatus but an extension of his existence and his active participation in the environments. The images it produces are not just detached spectacles: they are the agents that reveal the theatrical details suffused in mundane life.