Zhiyun Zhang

Lucid Dream: Embracing Uncertainty

Glass is a tool, a projection surface, and a medium for optical phenomena. It bridges physical space and perception, reshaping our sensory experiences and deepening our understanding. My installations explore the blurred boundaries between observer and observed, reality and illusion, and sensory perception and consciousness. Inspired by cosmic and natural phenomena, my work reflects on the contemplation of the moon and the appreciation of rainbows, using historic optical technologies and materials like glass, mirrors, and light. By challenging viewers' preconceptions, my work fosters self-reflection and a dialogue between individual experiences and the external world.

Lucid dream
Glass, organza fabric, sugar solution, polarizer film, light, wood, metal, mirror, paper
10”x 10“x10”


Hundreds of glass fibers suspended in the room, with iridescent light reflected on the surface

The glass container is filled with a high-concentration glucose solution. Below the container, there is a filter consisting of eight sector-shaped polarizing films, forming a complete circle when pieced together. These films are set at various angles and can differently rotate the sugar solution. When polarized light of mixed angles passes through the sugar water and a second polarizing filter above the container, a rainbow-like array of mixed colors is observed. This colorful effect is also visible from the side of the cylindrical container.

I've created a reflective device to project this rainbow light. The rainbow-colored beams are refracted onto a three-dimensional projection surface made up of numerous vertically aligned glass fibers. The appearance of the rainbow-colored reflections changes with the movement of the observer.

"镜花水月" (Mirror Flower, Water Moon)

Glass, baking soda, acrylic, wood, metal, tonic water, black light
24” x 24” x 15”


A fluorescent blue moon appears in a dark room, reflecting off an angled acrylic sheet, creating a captivating and ethereal visual effect.

To create the illusion of a moon floating in an indoor space, a Pepper’s Ghost apparatus is used. This technique projects objects on a semi-transparent surface, making them appear ghostly. The glass moon, placed inside a black wooden box, is suspended above eye level. The bottom mechanism includes a grey transparent acrylic board set at a 45-degree angle. When positioned, the moon is projected onto the acrylic surface, creating the illusion of a floating blue moon. As viewers approach, they see both the moon inside the box and its projection, exploring the boundaries between reality and illusion. The installation prompts reflection on the metaphor of the moon’s illusory nature, inviting viewers to experience and contemplate the aesthetic interplay of reality and illusion.


Glass, wood, sugar solution, polarizer film, light, wood, metal
15”x 15”x7”


An antique-like wooden box holds a line of test tubes filled with liquids, with iridescent colors forming an arc from the device's arrangement.

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Moon model

Glass, wood, light, wood, metal
15”x 15”x20”


A broken moon model made by the Soviet Union is repaired by projecting from the glass ball inside onto the plastic shell.

Phases in Time

Glass, wood, light, wood, metal, mirror
30”x 25”x20”


In an antique suitcase, a reflective device composed of multiple mirror structures is placed to showcase the various phases of the moon through a semi-circular glass moon at the center.


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