Zhou Tao:Blue and Red the 1st Prize of the Jury,61st International Short Film Festival Oberhausen


People staring mesmerised at light sources beyond the frame. Some pause, pointing, waving, others sit on the ground, expectantly following what’s hidden from our view. What do they see? A concert? A billboard? What are they waiting for? What brought them together?

In Zhou Tao’s compelling work Blue and Red the city is revealed as a stage for the media surfaces of hyper-capitalism to perform as effectively as the resistance against the ruling system.Zhou Tao trusts exclusively in his expressive images. His clever montage creates a high degree of filmic tension and analytical precision.

 - Statement for awarding Blue and Red the 1st Prize of the Jury,61st International Short Film Festival Oberhausen

About Oberhausen

 Short film is still the prime source of innovation for the art of film – the experimental field in which future cinematic vocabularies first crystallize. Today its diversity of forms, themes and approaches across the globe is greater than ever – video or film, short fiction film or essay, installation, graduation film or artist’s video, animation, documentary, and all imaginable hybrids thereof.

The International Short Film Festival Oberhausen has been part of this highly charged field for over 50 years now, as a catalyst and a showcase for contemporary developments, a forum for what are often heated discussions, a discoverer of new trends and talent, and not least as one of the most important short film institutions anywhere in the world.

In the course of more than five decades, the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen has become one of the world’s most respected film events – a place where filmmakers and artists ranging from Roman Polanski to Cate Shortland, from George Lucas to Pipilotti Rist have presented their first films. Oberhausen has managed to instigate various political and aesthetical developments, for instance through the Oberhausen Manifesto, perhaps the most important group document in the history of German film. Careful programming and a pioneering choice of subjects has helped the Festival to build up its exclusive position in an increasingly unpredictable market.

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Revelry. Sweat. Food
An intense slumber. Panic. Aural delight
Threat. Blood clots. Death
Evaporated into a powdery substance
Like particles dancing in a beam of light.
Following the LED, clearly visible,
transforming into sheets of light, eroding, corroding, changing.
As if this purplish lava floods the street,
Grains of asphalt, white signs, zebra crossings
Catalysts in the “situation”, constant shifts of color temperature and texture

Sweet coconut soup and spicy southern curry

Constructing a double in between the separation, witnessing the square transform into a beast, whose body suddenly twitches when its bones deform and grow. It completes another metabolic cycle in the alternating time of rupture and closure. Sweet coconut soup and spicy southern curry mixed with blood adheres to the skin’s uneven surface, flashing a blue-green color.

Cutting landscape

This political body exudes an air of the everyday, dense capillaries connecting directly to the hair follicles.  Gentle movement and moisture seeps everywhere, pooling in shallow depressions in the ground, as if the edge of thought creates a small tear in the visual landscape, even appearing as a bolt of lightning in the clouds.


Looking at these old people, with their tan skin glowing in halos of blue, purple, green, red – it feels somewhat cruel.

Found some footage that incited a sense of pain. I know this material calls out to the video, but at this point in the editing process, the video has already formed a skin. The emergence of the material is like a scalpel that will split this skin – how can the flesh not feel pain? How is editing not the separating of skin, and the implanting of hair?

Shooting – facing an object, the distance between the camera and the scene is drastically reduced, and one is conscious that this distance will be erased. The only thing that is clear is the “click click” sound at the point of collision between lens and scene. This nearness should be celebrated; this closeness, this close combat, the ease with which the “mud” is shaken off, leaving only “shooting.”

I live inside my body
Travel within the body


Turning over – mining turns earth and rock into a red slurry
That fills the lakes and valleys,
It is this turning, the skin of day, the tattooed texture that is clearly revealed.
More importantly, this turning movement results in the acquisition of a torso

I get inspiration from the turning of the torso
Connecting this movement with my own labor
A series expanded from “shooting” connects my work

Overlooking the landscape
The turning reveals the torso
The athleticism of Doubling/Turning replaces looking

An action must exist within even more delicate sense of touch


I am an anonymous observer. I need to continue the study of how to stay within reality, in order to maintain my work. Following the color change of the earth’s crust and people’s skin, a spectrum of the surface, image and reality are mutually creating “political skin”.

Flying along the gently undulating surface.

- Excerpts from Zhou Tao’s working notes on Blue and Red


All images are video stills from Zhou Tao’s work, “Blue and Red” (2014). Courtesy the artist and Vitamin Creative Space.
Text and image: Vitamin Archive