karen duan


Winter 2014 / University of Michigan
Visual Communications with Dawn Gilpin


Three weeks of shifting from 2D to 3D, translating from drawing to model as we read Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. His narratives confront us with the fantastical and the dystopian — we are charged with spatializing both.

Above: 2D Translation of Eusapia
    Enter Italo Calvino’s city, Eusapia. It is whimsical, airy, full of sparkling water and birds. Everyone in Eusapia loves life. Everyone in Eusapia has a laugh like chimes.

    No one wants to die.

    To ease their death: the living build an identical Eusapia underground. Now the dead rest easy, rotting in familiar positions: hunched over an easel, playing the fiddle.
    No one visits the Eusapia underground, except the brothers, who wear hoods and whisper amongst themselves.

    The brothers are exclusive. They are autocratic, but cunningly so. Day after day, they report to the living. They say the lower Eusapia is changing. They say it’s always in the little novelties: new handheld mirrors, tucked-in blouses. Small details, easily missed. But there, nonetheless.

    The living listen, enchanted. They are rapt with an alternate vision of themselves. Not wanting to fall behind, they scurry to copy the dead. Everyday they craft a new duplicate: matching mirrors, blouses, silver teaspoons and cuckoo clocks.

    Thus exists the city: two parallel entities, one rushing to correct the twin image. They say that in Eusapia, the two halves have become indistinguishable. They say that in Eusapia, you can no longer tell who is dead or alive.

            ︎ Home
Next Project ︎           

© Karen Duan, 2020