April Lin 林森 on Xin Huang's 'What Should We Eat After Dreaming?'

Part of ONE WORK

A close up looking down on two people from behind wearing denim and fleece as they use chopsticks and a metal bowl to fill dumplings. The word 'complain' is repeated four times in sans serif white text at a diagonal in the centre of the image.
Xin Haung, 'What Should We Eat After Dreaming?', 2020. Courtesy of the artist.

We commissioned artist, writer and programmer April Lin 林森 to respond to Xin Haungs What Should We Eat After Dreaming?’ (2020). You can read or listen to April read the text below.

What Should We Eat After Dreaming?’ (2020) was presented on the LUX Scotland website in August 2023, followed by an online discussion event with Xin, as part of our ONE WORK series.

ONE WORK is a series of online discussion events to think more deeply about how an artwork came into being. Focusing closely on a single work, these generous discussions provide space for an artist to present a recent work and talk through the work’s creation. The events are accompanied by a month-long online screening and specially commissioned written response published on the LUX Scotland website.

April Lin 林森 (b. 1996, Stockholm — they/​them) is an interdisciplinary artist and independent curator investigating image-making and world-building as sites for the construction, sustenance, and dissemination of co-existent yet conflicting truths. They interweave moving image, performance, creative computing and installation in a commitment to centring oppressed knowledges, building an ethics of collaboration around reciprocal care, and exploring the linkages between history, memory, and interpersonal and structural trauma. Their work has been shown at the Museum of the Moving Image New York, Sheffield DocFest, LA Filmforum, and NOWNESS Asia.

Traversing the y‑axis of existence through the framework of love

Shaken and stirred between everyday mundanity and the abstract, sensorial cosmos, What Should We Eat After Dreaming?’ takes my gaze as an audience in a strong yet gentle grip. I am the white lady held in King Kong’s grasp, except instead of scaling the Empire State Building, the film takes me on a journey. One minute, the film and I are perched on the ledge of a hovering satellite, our feet dangling in space, observing love everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Then we leap, the forces of gravity pulling us within the blink of an editor’s cut into the eye piece of a microscope. On the petri dish is the human rituals and routines that over time constitute a web of security, familiarity, and attachment. Back and forth, we bounce across these two realms, two perspectives, two approaches. We bounce to-and-fro enough times so that we start sensing that they are in fact parallel spaces, rather than opposites from each other.

Compellingly, it is at the position with most distance where the audiovisual stimuli is most intense. Bright, saturated slabs of colour cover and re-cover the frame, layering themselves on top of each other; a collage that builds vertically, moving closer and closer to the eye of the beholder. There is cawing, howling, glass breaking, zooming into open lips, the warped close up of a fish’s eye, layers of oil paintings, hands slick with an unknown transparent viscosity rubbing against each other in slow-motion. The noises grate me, the colours glare, and I’m thrown into a disorienting loss of perspective… Is this my first or nth hour in this whirlpool..? The footage is collected and mashed together in a manner that reminds me of dipping my fingers into a pot of coarse sea salt flakes, crushing them over the in vitro meal, the shards and fragments glittering as they tumble down, finally settling on top of each other in a pile of perfect rubble.

And before you know it, with only the stuttering distorted voiceover of Re-re-reality’ as forewarning, you are plopped back onto the material realm. We are in a kitchen while two people, intimate and comfortable enough with each other to engage in the singsong comforts of domestic bickering, prepare and enjoy a meal together. There is a sturdiness, a simplicity — what you see is what you get. The only betrayal of this calm are the words presented in white sans serif type that dance about on the frame, superimposed on top of the slice-of-life footage. Scribbled annotations of wit and care, they provide insight and commentary on what’s going on beneath. As the two people move about in their home, one person chops on a cutting board, the other person shows them a bowl of rice, asking if it’s enough for tonight’s dinner. On the chopping board, the word cut’ blinks on and off, and hovering on top of the two people as they discuss: again and again /​Prepare every night /​Meal.’

The film wraps up neatly, cutting to black with the question What would you like to eat tomorrow morning?’ softly spoken, as if this is itself an answer to the titular What Should We Eat After Dreaming?’ As the film ends, it’s as if a flap of dough is being pinched shut, and the audiovisual filling that we have just been mincing and minced into, is deliberately tucked in. The micro and macro are both crucial ingredients in this mishmash of loving and living, living and loving.

Image description: A close up looking down on two people from behind wearing denim and fleece as they use chopsticks and a metal bowl to fill dumplings. The word complain’ is repeated four times in sans serif white text at a diagonal in the centre of the image.

Audio Version

Part of ONE WORK

ONE WORK is a series of online events that focus closely on a single work. These generous discussions provide an opportunity for an artist to present a recent work and talk through how the work came into being. Each work is available as a month-long online screening, followed by a specially commissioned written response that serves as documentation of both the work and the discussion.

Learn more