Topography of Decay
Artist book
Editions: 25

'Topography of Decay' is a multi-part programme series hosted by Asymmetry Art Foundation, comprising a self-published zine and artist book, a panel discussion, and open library sessions on the themes of queer ecology, geotrauma, and risk capitalism. Synthesising drawing, storytelling, and artist-book making, 'Topography of Decay' imagines different trajectories to understand the deadly matters that intertwine with the detritus of capitalism and dark ecology, in horror and in hope.

The artist book comprises of writings, diagrams, and research visuals made by artist and educator Shuyi Cao, writer and critic Yuhang Zhang, and researcher Hang Li as a research collective. Coming from divergent standpoints while sharing similar research subjects, they collectively generate artistic writings and imageries during their frequent feedback to each other’s research as creative exchanges.

This self-published publication consists of a correspondence between Shuyi Cao and Yuhang Zhang titled ‘Metabolic Cosmos’ and a poetic essay by Hang Li titled ‘A Possible Site of Seepage’. A series of diagrams have mapped their research ideas to guide their discussions about deadly matters, such as decomposition, microstratification, orientation, micro-intervention, and infection. Drawing upon psychogeography and different imaging of non-human beings, the diagrams seek to visualise the tensions and distance between those subjects. It also includes visuals by Shuyi Cao from her recent research and worldbuilding approaches, and a nonlinear story written by Yuhang Zhang signposts a potential reading of the pictures through mythmaking.

It was made with the design and visual co-researching by Xinyao Huang and edited by Nick Yu.

© Shuyi Cao 2023