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The Realm

of Perception

Series 2011

This series explores Ting’s interests in the perception of cultural identity, the relation between the inner and outer world, and states of consciousness and unconsciousness. The works focus on different aspects of duality; these are conveyed through a process of vigorous self-expression, in which the surfaces and images are fragmented in order to enable a reconnection. According to Ting, there is a side of her that likes to indulge in the act of overt confession typical of the Western world, and yet her Chinese upbringing reminds her of an inner impulse to shy away from revealing emotions that are hidden beneath layers of imageries and texts.

The artist was in fact going through an emotional difficult period in her life at the time of the paintings’ creation. She began to try to access her subconscious by looking for what she was perhaps suppressing of hiding. Then, in conversation with Grayson Perry, he said that there are no lines or boundaries in his art; it led her to think about her own works- particularly those in which there were certain things she didn’t want to show. This prompted her to consider the tension between the oppressed and the expressed, a dichotomy compatible with Freud’s idea of the constant fight between desire and guilt. Ting decide to create a series in which she would let go of her boundaries and reveal all that was hidden. She drove deep into her subconscious and let it all out, and then followed her impulses to conceal it all again.

For the base layer, Ting used an ink transfer technique to transfer text drawn from letters, notes, confessions, other people’s secrets and her own darkest secrets, onto the canvas. She then overlapped this with different drawings depicting key moments in her friends’ and family’s lives; these stories had either shaped them personally, or referring to dark or painful incidents that had impacted them deeply. She then transferred these memories onto the canvas.


The fluorescent colour of the series was inspired by the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. To enhance the colours she used many layers of glazing, and to create texture, she peeled off paint off from other surfaces. She created a giant paper stencil, and used motifs and ancient patterns from both the West and the East, contrasting bold black and white images such as the ancient Chinese vase and the Roman statue from the same era.


As such, the series seeks to combine ideas from Freudian theories on consciousness and unconsciousness, dream works, repressed memories and the constant battle between desire and guilt by using a psychological technique akin to automatic writing; Ting forced herself to write everything down that she associated with a memory. In this way she hoped to access all of the hidden secrets of her subconscious, repressed self. The artist didn’t want to put forward a set of fixed ideas an so the series is ambiguous – she wished for viewers to draw from their own memories and find their own unique interpretation in the work.

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