Ying Liu

302 pages
9” X 10.875”
Limited Edition:
168 copies

MAKE A FOUNTAIN is a book-length experimental report about HANG OUT, a site-specific, three-part play, which I staged in 2017 (Aug 7, 17, &25), at Sara D. Roosevelt Park’s All Purpose Field­­­ in New York’s Chinatown.

A recent live concert I attended in Brooklyn
In my experience presenting live shows, I noticed fascinating boundaries between the presentation and the audience: the viewer tends to be respectful of the performer(s), keeping a physical distance from them even when seating is not assigned. A performance is almost like a fountain. In order to not get wet, the observer has a tendency to stay outside. As a viewer, I frequently find myself toggle between the splash and non-splash zones, depending on the specific show I attend or my mood.
During the staging of HANG OUT, I hoped to make a different kind of fountain. A fountain that’s not in front of the viewer from which you can tell how far it is from you. A fountain that’s all around. A fountain that’s so vast that the viewer would be enveloped in it and seeking their way out.

That, in a way, was informed by the virtual reality (VR) technology, rather than its functionalities but the fact that the user becomes the anchor point for a virtual environment that plays out around them. Normally, to observe a fountain, you circle around it and see it from various angles. Importantly, VR allows you to be encircled by the fountain, which means you can look out and around from within.
And the All Purpose Field at Sara D. Roosevelt Park was perfect. It’s busy in the summertime, which means it has a built-in audience. I was drawn to the intense curiosity, and apparent lack of boundaries, of the lovely regular park-goers who hang out there. And it’s spacious enough for people to wander and look around.

So that’s how HANG OUT came about. It was a hybrid of theater and happening, and followed a script about a group of friends and the way their relationships shift with the rise and fall of the stock market. Albert Hsueh played a (mostly) successful retail investor, admired by all his friends for his wealth. Yuching Tsai and Yi Chen come to him for financial advice, and end up buying stocks in Facebook and Apple Inc. By the end, their clashing market philosophies and strategies end up throwing their friendship into limbo.

For the events, I made a series of portable structures, or what I call “follies (drawn in pink below),” to serve as points of interest for the park-goers. And the cast, cameo & featured guests and I experimented with the follies placement to test out “making a different fountain.”

MAKE A FOUNTAIN includes extensive photo documentation of HANG OUT and its two prototypes. It also compiles observations from the cast and crew alongside texts by what I call hyperintentional viewers (friends who saw the performances with an intention to write about them), and intentional viewers (friends who I asked to informally jot down what they got from the performances after seeing them).

( #: show written about, ✔: additional show attended)

As an experimental time-based artist, I don’t usually have the opportunity to gather detailed results from my experiments. The book is an effort to reflect upon layered spectatorship and evaluate the effectiveness of public engagement.

Hope to see you at the book launch! Thank you so much.

-- Ying Liu

Catalog Design:
Jeffrey Blocksidge

Cover Photography:
Weizitong Kong

Text Contributors:
Sophia Chai, Michael Smith,
Rena Gill, CFGNY, Yuching Tsai, 
Jeffrey Blocksidge, Jingzhi Wang, 
John Matturri, Yi Chen, 
Maika Pollack, Keith Connolly,
Albert Hsueh, Nawan Bailey,
Karina Eckmeier, Jake Borndal,
Richard Maxwell, Nicholas Elliott,
and Chris Campanioni

Image Contributors:
Jingzhi Wang, Wayne Liu,
John Mutturri, Jeffrey Blocksidge,
YuanSheng Eason Huang,
Ying Liu, Chithra Jeyaram,
Vijchika Udomsrianan,
Emily Kinsolving, Seth Cohen,
Alexandre Maia, Weizitong Kong,

Ying Liu

Production Assistant:
Jack Skaggs

Editing and Proofreading:
Sophia Chai, Alexander Iadarola,
KC Crow Maddux, and Linda Schulze
More is more.