It seems to be


Three-channel video, color, black and white, sound.


“It seems to be details the psychological torture of an ant. Across the three-channel video installation, the ant is seen through, and forced to stay within, a circle, be it a circle of light coming from a torch, or a circle as framed by the camera. The first channel introduces the ant, or rather it is thrown into view by an anonymous hand that quickly grabs a stick to taunt (or perhaps discipline) its victim. Attempting to crawl away, the ant is met with the power of the stick – a nonsensical authority that tries to keep it in line, though at times the stick seems to toy with the ant just for the sick pleasure of it. Anxious and distressed, the ant is again confronted in the middle channel, this time with an unrelenting torch whose light follows its every move. Prevented from hiding, resting, or sleeping, the ant’s intense powerlessness is almost Kafkaesque: it is not just unable to escape, but unable to understand what is happening. In the final channel, without a hand or torch for scale, the ant now seems magnified, as if a giant insect navigating the surface of the moon. Feeling lost, the ant continues to run in circles without realizing that there is no exit.” – Thái Hà.

Imagine placing this artwork next to A Game or We were born to Fail (2021–2022), a single-channel video installation also by Đào Tùng, presented as part of the exhibition No more, not yet at Nguyen Art Foundation earlier this year. These two artworks indeed share familiar gestures forming part of the artistic language of Tung’s practice. Both plots revolve around playful childhood games (Majority Wins in A Game or We were born to Fail, and the toying with a poor little ant in the latter). Both employ the parameters of the camera frame as afixed viewpoint; their structures are established through a series of simple, repetitive actions, almost untouched by any post-production (while the former is a static one-shot video, the latter is a three-channel, handheld video). Dao Tung’s moving-image vernacular is distilled and unpretentious, yet immensely metaphorical, always subtly commenting on the power dynamic lurking behind make-believe situations. In the initial proposal for White Noise, it was this artwork that inspired me to attempt to write a fable: What would our world be like in 1,000 years through the eyes of an ant? What would they see as they come into contact with those colossal human bodies? Does art mean anything to ants at all? Do they actually want to understand a species that always bullies and preys on them? The world through their eyes is probably similar to that of my nieces and nephews. I often like observing them, and dogs too. Through their eyes, the world must seem vast and limitless. Once, I tried holding a camera at the eye level of my four-year-old nephew; his worldview only begins from underneath a table or at the height of the hip of a grown-up. They only see half of an adult human’s body, a fraction of everything. In order to see everything in its entirety, they have to look up. The act of looking up or looking around is always laden with the not-yet-understandable.

Description from White noise Exhibition Brochure, 2023, p. 2-3.


Up the banyan, the ant climbs
Alas, dead-end, futile crawl
Up the peach tree, the ant creeps
Broken branches, to-and-fro
– Vietnamese folk poem

Original statement by the artist from White Noise Exhibition Brochure, 2023, p. 3-4.

Collection Nguyen Art Foundation