Stain Detective Journal #1 | Look What We Did To White City!

Xiaolin Yuan

March 17th, 2022 4:41 min read 1289 words

28th January 2022

Have you ever noticed what was left on the floor?
Have you ever wondered who did this and why?

Hi there.
Welcome to the Stain Detective Journal #1. I am glad to take you on a journey with me to detect stains in white city.

“Who wants to look at stains?”
“Is there a need to investigate that?”

Yes. Stains, in general, are seen as dirty, meaningless, and needing to be cleaned instead of being examined. But have you ever really looked at a stain and wondered where it comes from and why it is there? I did. I am going to investigate this wonder.

Every stain is a creation, by nature, and by humans.
Each stain contains the existence of our creative process and action.
Each stain was originally part of the art piece until it was dropped on the floor, ignored, and forgotten.
Every stain is a lost child away from home.

As a child back in first grade, I was taught to walk with my head up, chest open, and look in front of me when walking. I would be scolded by the teacher in front of all the other kids if I ever lowered my head and looked at the ground. “Are you looking for a coin?” she said. As a kid, I felt very embarrassed being pointed out in public, so I kept my head up like everyone else and tried not to pay much attention to what would appear next to my foot, on the ground.

However, I didn’t like to walk in this way then, and I still don’t today. All these years, I felt “walking with my head up” was against my nature. My brain tells me to be careful of what I am about to step on, to look out, and avoid any dirty stuff on the ground that may cause an unpleasant experience. Not knowing what might appear under my shoes can only give me anxiety, insecurity, and nothing else. So I walk with my head down, carefully looking at my foot’s next landing place.

But unlike the dirty stains on the street, stains in White City mean so much more than just stains. Because the Garden House building in the White City campus is always an exhibition space, even when it’s not holding an actual installation. The space gives meaning to everything inside it. Everything the space contains can be seen as a part of the artwork. Stains here are almost like an underdrawing in a painting that shows the artists’ process of creation.

It is a pity to know that in the vast majority of exhibition space that at the closing of an installation, the space and floor must be 100% cleaned up and return to a pure white condition. Such regulation is wiping off any evidence of the existence of artworks and installations. It erases every artists’ existence in the space.

[Not every stain is meaningful and worth recording. Indeed. Body hair on the ground cannot be viewed as a part of the artwork, or the evidence of an existence of the art creation.]

Let’s take a look at my findings on the white city ground. If you find any extra clues on the origin of the stains, or if you identify any new stain mysteries, please contact the Content Free Stain Detective office immediately.


Discovered on the first floor of White City, Room GH1.BR07
Two green leaves stuck to the floor. Both have been stepped on. One was smeared by a giant’s shoe (a giant compared to the size of this poor green leaf). A 4cm wide smudge of green “blood” came from the leaf.
Surmised to be one of the leaves from a plant installation.


Two feet away from IMG_8320.
Smear range measuring approx. 60 cm in height and 44 cm in width.
A fairly large area of a scattered trace of green blood from the leaf shows evidence of attempts to clear the liquid off from shoes.
Predicting the owner of the shoes cursed when trying to get rid of the leaf blood. Who wouldn’t swear if they found something slippery under their shoe?


Blue paint.
Dripped next to a white wall.
Shown attempts of wiping off but not yet achieved.
Two large circular drops measuring 1.6 cm in radius.
Two medium drops measuring 0.7 cm in radius.
and eight smalls, unnecessary to be measured.
Unnoticeable splashes on the wall.
The longest distance of the splash measured 54 cm from the centre.
The paint drops are estimated to be dropped from a height of 108 cm, according to the splash range.

The blue paint stains show evidence of the creation process of the artist when installing the WIP show on White City’s 1st floor.


Located on the walkway on the 1st floor of White City Garden House.
Green paint dots.
Four apparent paint dots, measured approximately 0.25 cm in radius.
Several small dots are scattered in the upper-right corner, next to one of the bigger dots.
Paints are estimated to be dropped from an approximately 50 cm height.
All paint dots are relatively far away from each other, inferring that they were from a large-size artwork.


A band-aid.
Measuring 2cm x 4.5cm.
Printed with handwritten “thinking of you”.
Dropped from a flower-patterned white cloth hanging next to it.
It has been abandoned here for at least two months.


White paint. Looks like acrylic.
Red paint with a hint of yellow paint on the bottom left. The medium is unpredictable.
The white paint shows a trace of a small caster rolled onto the paint from the bottom-right to upper-left direction. The stain also shows evidence of a smear, which is predicted to be a footprint of the front part of a shoe, size 42.
The red paint seems more recent than the white paint but lacks trace to indicate its origin.


10th February 2022

I went back to Garden House again after the WIP show was taken down. Everything in the first-floor space was restored to its original location. The ground is wiped clean like nothing has happened here ever before.

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