Shape of the world


An abominable reincarnation of everyday life, of which an other-worldly dreamer takes pleasure to dream.


In a serene and orderly dimension that is approximate to paradise, a group of identical creatures parade down a path. They reach a gate where there is a floating bed. They lie one of the creatures onto the bed. She holds a sphere with gelatin texture and crystallic opacity in her hands. One of the other creatures stays and stands next to the bed while the rest is dismissed. The standing creature asks the lying one what kind of dream she fancies today. The lying creature answers a human dream and asks for recommendations. The standing creature gets a dream ready for her, and the dream supersedes her consciousness.

The shape of the world transforms into the shape of a human’s world. When *~*I*~* reopen my eyes, I’m lying on a bed in a human’s room and experiencing all this in a first person POV. The room is packed and the bed is narrow. I am compelled by a strong sense of responsibility to wake up but fail repeatedly. A wall clock calculates for me how much time I have left for getting to my office. From the wardrobe which stores many sets of identical suits, one of them comes out and tries to pull me out of bed violently but is in vain. I feel heavy and fall back to sleep.

The shapes of the world change their positions slightly. Now I find myself inside a dense forest alone. A trail is visible between lanes of trees. Occasionally, a bus passes by. I wave at the buses, hoping that they will stop, but they pass right by. They’re always full of people, even though the forest is manless. Not having breakfast, I hear my stomach roar. Guess what, a vending machine that sells breakfast pops up next to me. I don’t have money with me so I search the machine. In the machine’s outlet, I find a coin. I insert the coin into the machine but all the buttons light up “sold out”. Out of anger, I eject the coin from the machine and throw it onto the ground. The coin grows into a fruit tree when it touches the ground. I eat the fruits greedily and start feeling dazed. After some moments, a humanoid taxi comes by and it lets me get on. It picks some fruits from the tree and stores them in its trunk.

The humanoid taxi arrives in front of a pair of giant nipples. Each nipple pours out an endless stream of milk. The humanoid taxi drinks as the milk pours. My wall clock now arrives at the scene by crawling in the appearance of a hand watch. He springs from the ground and wraps himself around my arm. It reminds me of my lateness in this havoc. In the meanwhile, the humanoid taxi takes out the fruits from its trunk and starts making milkshakes. Some humans who arrive by bus are also there to enjoy the milk and the shakes. Desperately, I show the time to the humanoid taxi and beg him to take me to my office but he doesn’t care. Watching everyone drink and still having hunger, I invite myself to the competition for milk. The giant nipples shoot at me fiercely. Even when I open my mouth wide and follow the nipples’ movement, the milk would only shoot right at my face and slip away from my mouth. The milk landed on my face suffocates me.

The humans are more aggressive than I am and in chaos, I get heavily shoved to the ground, belly up. It is when I remember I’m in a dream. The camera shoots from above in third person POV the lying body of the dreamer. A door opens between the pair of giant nipples, from which a tongue rolls out. It picks up the dreamer and swallows her. The door shuts out all light.  

When the dreamer sees light again, she has already recollected her consciousness. The standing creature who is in fact her dream therapist asks her about how she feels. The dreamer doesn’t know if she understands all the symbols in the dream but she enjoys how she escapes from the stressful normality to another dimension where she finds missing pieces of herself. The therapist wraps up the conversation and congratulates her that this would actually be the last session of her therapy program; however, whenever she wants to make a dream casually, she is welcome to visit. The therapist stamps the gelatin sphere which is held in the patient’s hands. Through the gelatin, we see the ink of the stamp sink to the bottom and join other numerous ink marks. The patient walks out through the gate with the gelatin sphere in her hands, and slowly vanishes into the sky as she splits into a thousand half-flying, half-floating shapes.


A serene and orderly dimension that is approximate to paradise, it looks almost flawless to me. Why aren’t the “people” there problem-free and why do they need therapies? Is contentment irrelevant from a person’s circumstance? Can we induce that a person, no matter where he is, cannot be rid of existential threats?

The world is molded by billions of pairs of hands in collective effort. The shape of the world is composed of the positive and negative spaces made out of all bodies. The movement of a person — the movement of a person’s heart — shifts the shape of the world. When a dream begins, it starts off as a fragmented abstraction, full of possibilities. The dreamer doesn’t know yet if it is a sweet or a bad dream. As the dream ages, he gets familiar with the dream’s logic and finds his focus. The abstracted pieces get in place and become more apparent. The clearer the image becomes, the more horrific it seems to be. How the dream transforms cunningly to become deviated from its initial form and anticipated vision! To escape from this sight, the dreamer skips to the next dream where he can once again enjoy the short-lived romance and freshness offered by the new world.

When a person glitches — when a person's heart glitches — it stirs up opportunities with equal chances of good and bad. What matters is the accumulated sensations, superimposing with each other and brewing perceptions that suggest complexity and sublimation. Perceptions make up the shape of oneself, protecting it from being devoured by the shape of the world.

Your nightmare is my sweet dream
The covid years passed in a blink of an eye. Because of Hong Kong’s harsh quarantine rules, I hadn’t visited my hometown for three years. Recently the border reopened, and feeling estranged, I came as a visitor from afar. It was home for my entire childhood and still is home, but this time it gave off a fascinating sensation resembling an attraction park. Both my eyes and the camera were busy taking pictures of things of everyday life — used to be taken for granted and thus overlooked — as simple as colour combinations, buildings, parks, markets, people’s faces and their behaviour, etc. Many details have grown out of them and make them nice to look at again. I kept exclaiming, “how appealing and refreshing Hong Kong looks nowadays.” My friends disapproved, “really? It is ever-worsening to me.” 2019 summertime, in Hong Kong I saw angry people on the streets, contemptible faces of governors, devastated facilities, widen social gaps, broken relationships……These last sights engraved in my mind and when I woke up from it, I found myself in my dorm room in Cologne, working on my master's thesis.

The first time I woke up from the same dream was more than a decade ago. I woke up to be in South California, which looked just like a Hollywood movie. I was as well playing the role of an international student who was expected to come and go, greedily and carelessly absorbing every curious thing. Although I spent each day in great fulfillment, once in every while, I had the feeling of waking up from a dream, and wondered if all that was in front of me was real. As I naturalized further and understood more, slowly loomed the horror in the news, the streets and many other corners. When Trump became the president and pushed regressive policies, on the one hand, disheartened Americans wanted to move out of the states; and on the other, illegal immigrants continued to try the border and get deported.

In recent years, the currents of migration have been set off in all directions and for all reasons. When the myth about the greener grass on the other side is busted, perhaps “greener grass” shall be redefined as the temporary playground for escapism, which rotates and rejuvenates in one’s perception. Some call this movement of convenience new or modern nomadism. I want to know (I ask myself) what drives a nomad and what kind of world are the nomads driving us towards? I want to know if the greener grass will remain an eternal pursuit. In Shape of the World, I’m a dream therapist. I will provide a common but unpleasant dream to my honourable patient who comes from our neighbouring world. She is unfamiliar with hardship on earth, and takes pleasure in consuming the exoticism we live in. The journey of self-discovery will now begin. Please make yourself comfortable in your seat and wait for it.