We're excited to announce that Roopa Vasudevan will be our next #slowtrain virtual residency artist, taking over the China Residencies Instagram while she rides the Trans-Siberan Railway from Moscow on August 8th and arriving in Beijing on August 22nd, by way of Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, and Ulaanbaatar.
Roopa will be creating a series of algorithmically-generated composite images examining the difference in train compartment design between Western Russia, Siberia, Mongolia and mainland China. During the journey, she will attempt to take compositionally identical photos of sleeping compartments, seating areas, dining cars, and train exteriors and stations.
Roopa started her career producing documentaries before attending NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program. She currently teaches Interactive Media Arts at NYU's Shanghai campus and "uses algorithms to dissect tropes, customs, or ideas that are commonly accepted as fact without much second-guessing." She draws from the trail of data left by people on the Internet and is interested in how algorithms can expose patterns and biases in our collective thinking "to create new awareness and understanding of the ways our smallest actions affect the larger scope of our lives."
Over the summer, Roopa was a SPACES World Artist Program resident where she created #bellwether, "a data collection project designed to dig deeper into the true political desires of the voting population of Ohio, a state that is regarded as vital to the endgame of both parties, but whose citizens are often treated as faceless, nameless votes."
Buttons from #bellwether
Roopa is also a member of flux factory artist collective and community. In 2015, she exhibited HANDS UP, an interactive installation that explores law enforcement's relationship with people of color in the United States.
Previous works also include grillz, 3D-printed wearable teeth jewellery shaped by usage of language in mainstream hip-hop lyricism, with particular attention paid to mentions of money and income.
All images courtesy of the artist. Explore more of Roopa's work on her website,
and follow along on her #slowtrain residency on Instagram from August 8 to 22.
Taking the Trans-Siberian isn't cheap, if you can, please donate to help support Roopa's #slowtrain residency!