Love in the Dialectic of Vanity

Jiayi Young
UC Davis


Wenjie Cao
UC Davis

Shanna Dobson

Yogita Goyal
UC Los Angeles

Dante Xiang

Love in the Dialectic of Vanity is ultimately a poetry/literature machine that gives love to humanity. The collaborators of the project would build a popup iridescent inflatable room in the public space where the public can go in and write a poem about love or be given a piece of literature to enjoy. The pop-up structure would be based on a mathematical structure, possibly the form of Calabi–Yau manifold which posits the geometry of the universe to consist of high dimensional space. Participants would interface with the project to contribute their writing or to connect with other’s writings. This project is a year-long studio that explores creative potential as it relates to the significance of manifesting love as social agency in the context of changing social tapestry. Complicated by technology and intensified by social media, our moment in history is defined as grappling with the age-old dichotomy of longing and persistently attempting to manifest beauty in warmth, creativity and love, while at the same time, challenged with the evermore deeply felt everyday experience of deprivation of love. This, combined with the increase in overcrowding in urban areas, it is increasingly more difficult to have a room of one’s own and have a space that honors privacy for creativity. With the final goal for the studio of building a temporary room-sized structure in public spaces, the project provides a room as a temporary sanctuary of time in space for people seeking love and at the same time encouraging creative thinking and output.

For images of the public event in which the final project was revealed, see the studio’s event page

Jiayi Young is an Assistant Professor of Design at the University of California, Davis. She works in the emergent and experimental field of digital media to create data-driven large-scale public participatory installations and social interventions. Leveraging social media, crowd-sourced media, and user-created content, she sets up scenarios and creates conditions to make visible empathetic relationship between people in the presence of contemporary culture. Her work invites the public to participate to come in close contact with an experience that engages the rethinking of the present-day human experience.

Shanna Dobson is a Caltech SURF Fellow, author, and 2021 doctoral and NSF GRFP applicant studying Geometric Langlands, K-theory, and perfectoid spaces. She is a Mellon Foundation grantee, the SEC TF1 String Theory and Quantum Gravity Liasion for SnowMass 2021, and an invitee to WestEd’s Reading Apprenticing students into STEM Thinking Learning Community. In Spring 2021, she will be a USC CUE & CETL Faculty Equity Fellow. Her research interests include perfectoid spaces, Langlands functoriality, Geometric Langlands, and post-quantum cryptography. She is currently a mathematics lecturer at Calstate LA, ArtCenter College of Design, and Mount Saint Mary’s University.

Yogita Goyal is Associate Professor of African American Studies and English at UCLA, editor of the journal, Contemporary Literature, and President of the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present (A.S.A.P.). She is the author of Romance, Diaspora, and Black Atlantic Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2010), guest editor of a special issue of Research in African Literatures (Fall 2014) and editor of the Cambridge Companion to Transnational American Literature (2017).  Her study of the revival of the slave narrative as a new world literary genre, Runaway Genres: Global Afterlives of Slavery, is forthcoming from NYU Press in 2019.

Dante Xiang is a full time software development engineer at Inc working on big data and machine learning related projects. At work, he interacts with many data scientists and business intelligence engineers closely. Graduated from UC Davis as a Master student from the Department of Engineering, he gained a lot of hands-on experience in Java, Python, C++ and many other scripting languages through projects like Third-party Payment Platform, LiDAR Obstacle Recognition and OpenCL Spectrum Similarity Search and its REST Implementation. In his spare time, he likes playing basketball and skiing.

Wenjie Cao is a first-year grad student in the Design program at the University of California, Davis. He is interested in design thinking, UI/UX and front-end coding. Wenjie graduated from Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications, majoring in digital media. During his undergraduate studies, he learned both visual design and programming and gained lots of experience through taking part in some project, like website design of Nanjing Museum, course enrollment system of universities and visual design of Nanjing Metro.