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The Levitating Perils

Experimental 3D animation with sound, Outdoor Projection Installation, Sculpture


The Levitating Perils is a provocative work exploring the transformation of the Chinese diasporic subjectivities amid uncertainties and challenges. It responds to the returning surge in hate against Asian communities and delves into the genealogy of “Yellow Perilism,” which roots within a long tradition of Eurocentric representation of Asia as a threat to the “West.” Amongst all the racial incarnations in history, a vicious octopus with Fu-Manchu’s head is an icon that consistently appears via images, documents, and texts. Such antagonized otherness in Western narratives helped manifest the “imagined Western” identification and conjured the fears to colonialist dysfunctions.


As a racial signifier in the dualist Western fantasy, “yellow” has been an imputed phenotype that varies concerning different periods of European colonization into “the Orient.” It has come to represent an “East Asian” classification in its most recent use. As an entirely fictitious character created in the West, the yellow octopus embodies a looming dread to endanger the established “Western norms.”

In this project, a being with an octopus body and dragon heads levitates uncannily. It looks rather indifferent and whimsical than dangerous. The project subverts the stereotypes of “Asia.” Its sculpture and animation provoke the public to face and contemplate a fixed logic. As a century-long fear still lives ubiquitously in subtler ways nowadays, the Yellow Perilist anxieties are exposed and interrogated. “Yellow to whom and Peril to whom?” The scrutinies of such questions are carried out through the appropriation and deconstruction of a historically rigid racial symbol.

*This project is supported by Denver Digerati as a commissioned public projecton installation for Supernova Digital Animation Festival's Night Lights Denver program, Denver, CO, 2021

© 2023 by Frank WANG Yefeng, all rights reserved

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