Of Whales (2022) is derived from Wu Tsang’s multidisciplinary research around Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick; or, The Whale (1851). Tracing the diving path of a sperm whale who plunges down to non-human depths for over an hour at a time only to resurface for a brief breath of air, Of Whales is a mystical adventure in place and being. Created on the Unity gaming platform, the dynamically generated real-time video and sound installation envelops visitors in an oceanscape-cosmos for respite, contemplation, and provocation. Of Whales forms part of a filmic trilogy that includes Tsang’s feature-length adaptation of Moby Dick, which reinterprets the novel through a postcolonial lens, channeling the perspectives of the whale and crew to evoke latent spiritual musings and queer intimacies. First presented at the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022, the work features a musical score composed by Asma Maroof and Daniel Pineda, with Tapiwa Svosve, Jalalu-Kalvert Nelson, and Miao Zhao.
This exhibition features flashing and moving lights that may trigger photosensitivity.
The exhibition closes 15 minutes prior to museum closing.
Header: Wu Tsang, Of Whales, 2022 (installation view, SFMOMA); collection SFMOMA, Purchase, by exchange, through a gift of Michael D. Abrams; © Wu Tsang; photo: Katherine Du Tiel
Composers: Asma Maroof and Daniel Pineda
Horns: Tapiwa Svosve, Jalalu-Kalvert Nelson, Miao Zhao
Harp and vocals: Ahya Simone
Creative technologist: Ferdinand Dervieux
3D artist: Aby Batti
Sky Box: Daniel Balage
Lead VFX artist and additional modeling: Alexandra Radulescu
VFX artist: Camille Petit
Cosmos sequence directing and animation: Abel Kohen
Sound design: Nicolas Bredin
Music spatialization: Dave Rife and Gabe Liberti
Additional integration: Small by MacGuff Vincent Gutman, Marine Le Borgne, Florient Salabert
Produced by ATLAS V—Arnaud Colinart
Virtual production by ALBYON
With support from VIVE Arts; VIA Art Fund; Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin; Antenna Space, Shanghai; Cabinet, London; and LUMA Foundation
Major support for this presentation of Wu Tsang’s Of Whales is provided by Shawn and Brook Byers, Wayee Chu and Ethan Beard, Randi and Bob Fisher, Katie and Matt Paige, Sir Deryck and Lady Va Maughan, Lydia Shorenstein, and Ali and John Walecka.
Generous support is provided by John M. Sanger.
Additional support is provided by Susan Swig.