Panel Discussion: Voyages Extraordinaires – Artsy
Time: 2020.5.21, 10 AM (New York) 2020.5.21, 10 PM (Beijing)
· What has been a seminal experience during the transformation of forms of your practice or research?
I consider myself as a project-based and speculative artist. My works often start from an event, a moment, an emotion, or a stimulus that I have strong feelings about. I will then start my research including studying the related philosophy and history, collecting archives and data, and finding the most appropriate medium to realize the project, which often includes learning a new technique or collaborating with professionals in the related field. So I would say all experiences are seminal to me in my practice and research.
· Did you face any challenges while crossovers or collaborations with other artists(not majored in art) or platforms?
Yes, all the time. As someone from the painting background, the challenges while collaborating with other technologists and platforms are constant (conceptually, technically, perspectively, etc.), For example, while collaborating with the technologists at the Bell Labs, as a part of the E.A.T. program founded by Bell Labs and sponsored Rhizome and NEW INC, we have been consistently negotiating between my expression and criticality as an artist, the mission and goal of the Bell Labs, and the time, labor and technical capability of the engineers. While this is also what I'm very interested in: Constantly shifting between the role of an insider and outsider, and trying to crack the space in-between.
· Are there any modern day issues or causes that you try to raise awareness to in your practice or research？
As I mentioned above in my introduction, in the current post-Internet era, micro-alienation consistently appears with new faces and generates new dominating powers that have never been before. In today’s world where everyone is becoming a cyborg where smartphones have truly become part of the human body and manipulative algorithms are implemented everywhere: Social media, search engine, streaming service, surveillance, healthcare system, and so on, alienation indeed reconstructs us in a more microscopic way and is becoming more ubiquitous and harder to detect, which are what I’m constantly exploring in my practice and research.
· How do you place your practice or research within the context or lineage of art history?
My practice is very much under the trajectory of Post-structuralist theories (Michel Foucault, Henri Lefebvre, Judith Butler, etc) and Post-colonial theories such as Homi Bhabha’s The Third Space, in conjunction with my recent focus and critique on the techno-totalitarian capitalism. Hence, my project also often includes setting up a multi-layered system to trigger the collision of various seemingly unrelated elements and topics from different social and cultural backgrounds, to explore the complexity and possibility of “The Third Space”.
· In your work, A Woman with the Technology, you created an Asian American girl named HUAWEI. At the beginning of creating this character and its fundamental concept, where and how did you get inspiration from? What is your concern about the controversial part of information and copyright in this field of art (e.g. dark humor, caricature, and meta)?
Both the title A Woman with the Technology and the character the Asian American girl named HUAWEI, were generated by an AI Chatbot that was trained using data I collected over a period of three months, where I recorded all my daily online presence on various media platforms. So this chatbot is in some way an AI version of myself or at least is reflecting the information I received within the three months period. Through my conversation with the chatbot, it created a script and I made an animated-video based on this AI-generated script. As for the dark humor and the controversial information, they were primarily caused by, first of all, the limited amount of data that was used to train the AI, so the chatbot is very illogical and absurd (while it’s actually perfect for this project). Secondly, since the data were based on the posts and videos that were pushed by the algorithm, there was a lot of unexpected information through the process, which is also what I was looking for by setting up this complex system.