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Miss CommunicationMiss Communication—Pansum Cheng, Staff Technologist, School of Art and Design

Pansum Cheng created a sculpture that challenges viewers to consider the complexities of cross-cultural communication. The installation consists of two separate walls, each standing 7.5 ft.-wide by 16ft. tall, and 22 ft. apart. Each wall is constructed of 1,200 tin cans interlocked within a grid system, made up of 1/2 inch conduit pipes. Each can is attached by a string to another can directly across it on the opposite wall, creating a type of communication device: a telephone cup. This means of connecting to one another is complicated by the thousands of strings stretched across the walls in a web-like structure, making it almost impossible to separate one cup from another. The installation is intended to capture the “frustration and the excitement of different relationships within our cultural mishmash.”

As an immigrant and longtime New Yorker, Cheng knows first-hand the challenges to establish an identity and connection in a multicultural society, in which different ethnicities, religions, ages, sexual orientations add greater complexity to how we communicate and present ourselves. The answer to this conundrum, suggests Cheng, is to “gain a better understanding of ourselves and a larger perspective of our circumstances.”

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