Li Shengzhao: What, in your opinion, is art? Does artistic practice for you possess any clearly defined goals? Are there any specific methodologies involved? (At what times do such things take effect? When don’t they?)
Alex Gibbs: The question over what is art is a question that I spend very little of my time thinking about. Very little indeed. However, I feel the basic notion of art is that it is the act of creating something and presenting it to others in order ask a question, or draw attention to, a specific issue. I believe there are no goals within this. The idea that art is refreshingly open is what makes it exciting.
Bignia Wehrli: As I was just entering the house from a walk through the fog outside, I thought art is just like fog: it reveals and hides. The artistic practice not only makes visible but also creates new connections between the visible and the invisible.
Candida Höfer: \"Art\" is partly what others say about your work, an attribution by others. And it is an obligation on myself, a demand on myself to make images to the best of my ability. After many trials I have found that to make images my best approach is using photography. And since photography is about seeing, the wish to make images is constantly with me.
At the moment, its more to do with dialogue, interactions I have with myself and with others, about the language by which we communicate with both the invisible and visible worlds.
I long for a clearer goal, but every time, the farther I move forwards, the more distant this becomes. Often this leaves me with with far more than I’d hoped for.
This is what I hope for, and yet, every time I grasp it it slips through the cracks between my fingers. One has to treasure what comes. Besides, I like the unexpected, these little offshoots.
Chen Chenchen: For me art is a kind of language, where making work is akin to writing poetry. Although I haven’t yet mastered its grammar and lack any real notion of poetics, I feel certain there still remain certain “notions” I have yet to express. What they need is to be “realised”, to become something that amounts to a distinct aim in itself. Still, even this still won’t answer the question of “what the work’s supposed to mean?” There are certain methods I’ve already more or less come to terms with, my own tendencies in working. I do something, I do something else. These things are at the same time all also fully integrated with my daily life. It’s impossible to isolate them in any way.
Sitting in a corner as a child, busy with my drawing; then, as an adult, doing the same, only then as art. I guess this is how I see it. Society apportions artists with an independent standpoint, permitting that they observe and respond to their surroundings. This standpoint’s immediate context is by necessity strictly limited. An artist looks at themselves, at their surroundings, taking these as a means of clarify the borders that define their understanding of art. I guess this is more or less my view of it.
My goal: To push the boundaries.
My method: Hardening up the softer parts of my brain, allowing those more rigid parts to loosen off.
Ding Shiwei: Art is the medium through which I engage in interactions with myself, this or a mirror, a piece of recording apparatus, using which it becomes possible to discern this self, to make records for all the traces and cycles of ones development at different stages of life, making imprints of those fragmentary sensations and utterances from each given, specific place in time. Life’s long, I dread to think of all those things I’ve failed to catch throughout the years.
Fang Wei: For me, art is a unique means of experience and expression, itself connected to ones experiences in daily life. Any aim or method simply ferments within this.
At this moment in time, for me, art is a kind of gauge.
From the moment a person is born, the instant they open their eyes, it’s already determined they’ll become a spectator. They begin to survey the world around them in a scrutiny that will occupy the remainder of their lives.
Art can exist as a tool to bolster this kind of survey. As an activity it possesses two main directions, one inward, that of self-reflection, the other outward, in exploration of the world beyond. To engage in this is pretty much my clearest objective.
When one takes art as ones gauge, doing this, the question of method more or less resolves itself: the making of work is itself a means of fashioning a “scale”, taking the production of these different measures to gauge the various dimensions of the world.
For me, ideally, “art” would be a kind of habit. This is a state however that I’m still very far from attaining.
The way I see it, art practice is a profession, its goals are very clear. It’s just like in any position or business set up, there are always standards, always quotas. Ones goal should be to transcend the subject by way of mimicry.
Method is something very specific, it’s different at every stage of the process. Nonetheless, it all converges in ones gradually achieving clarity from what was at first indistinct, feeling ones way as one goes.
Hua Peng: Image media and painting have remained my media of choice pretty consistently. I experiment to keep things fresh and stimulating.
Huang Songhao: When I’m awake it’s my work, when I try to sleep it’s a burden. No matter how one puts it it still isn’t quite right, it’s always open to contention. You satisfy your needs, in all respects. I don’t subscribe to any specific methodologies for practice. And yet, when I’m not working, I tend to be pretty rational about things, I like to schematise.
Jiang Zhuyun: At this moment in time, for me art is I suppose a kernel of sorts, an impetus to continue learning. I think art is just one means of understanding the world, a process both of understanding and subverting without end.
Li Ming: The aim is clear, ones method doesn’t necessarily have to be. Method is something one can take pleasure in, there needn’t be any standard involved.
Liang Manqi: It’s very simple really, it’s simply something that I need to do. The goal is clear. If you’re referring to the way I work, certainly, there are certain methods I use, but really it’s all a matter of process, of spontaneity.
Apart from being this, this word “art”, there isn’t much more to it really.
The goal of my practice is constantly in flux. Satisfying certain expectations, trying out certain ideas, making ones self and ones friends happy, it’s a mix of all these things.
There is method yes, but pinpointing this is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Liu Tian: Art is an individual’s facing limitlessness for themselves, hence there aren’t really any definite goals involved, albeit there can be certain processes by which an individual might arrive at a certain definition of themselves. Again, there’s no set method, as the title of the present exhibition states, we “begin from chaos”. Saying which, this is itself actually extremely difficult— what people more often than not achieve is only “micro-definition”, a little bit of method — Hence it’s probably better to think of ending in chaos, bringing something of real substance from out of the maelstrom.
Antony Gormley says “The significance of art is an exchange of lived experience”. For me, art is a natural secretion of the human intellect.
Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night. Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night. Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. And you, my father, there on the sad height, Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
空を越えてラララ星のかなた ゆくぞアトムジェットの限り こころやさしラララ科学（かがく）の子 十万马力（じゅうまんばりき）だ鉄腕（てつわん）アトム 耳をすませラララ目をみはれ そうだアトム油断（ゆだん）をするな こころ正しラララ科学の子 七つの威力（いりょく）さ鉄腕アトム 街角（まちかど）にラララ海の底に きょうもアトム人间守って こころはずむラララ科学の子 みんなの友达鉄腕アトム
Lu Yang: It’s a fun job. There’s no real goal or method. Maybe it’s a way of gambling away what’s left of life…
Merijn Kavelaars: Art For me is an endless search between safety and liberty. Art cannot have clearly defined goals. For me art is a guideline, a religion for life. It teaches you to look at things differently. Throwing yourself into the deep and finding a way to pull yourself out. My paintings give me understanding and answers to certain of life’s questions
Mystery. Art is Mystery.
There is no goal in me. If I knew where is a goal, what is a goal, I don\'t need to do anything, no need to create. Creation is a battle without knowing where it goes.
SAN XIAN TV: For us, art is a territory, a field, a free zone. Sometimes the goals are clear, at other’s they’re more vague. More often than not, method changes according to shifts in ones goals.
As far as a so-called artist like me is concerned, someone who comes from having had a regular job, my understanding of art is really very limited. Hence with regard to the question of what it is, the way I see it, it’s all a process of self examination. It’s an issue it takes a life time to understand.
There are always goals, in my opinion. It’s not a matter of these being clear or not, this isn’t really important, they’re only a base, a reference. No matter what ones trajectory, it’s ones goals determine this. They’re something which for me emerge quite naturally from the moment I start something. A goal is for me something enormously circular. I start from the centre and work my way out towards the circumference. After I arrive at or come near to this, I go back again, starting out from the centre afresh, from a different angle. This is the way I work. Whether it counts as a definite method or not, I don’t really think the word’s all that well-suited to describing this kind of state anyway. It’s about instinct, a sort of sub-conscious grammar.
Yixin Tong: My attitude is one of contradiction and a certain arrogance; my process is like a flower blooming, before then withering away. As far as I’m concerned, no specific goals or methods are involved, in fact, I rail against such things.
I\'m so confident with my works. Beauty, Rhythm and Speed are most important in my methodology.
Art is the most important thing in my life. There is nothing in the world I would exchange for Art.
Wang Fei: The way I see it, art is something that stays there even once you’ve closed your eyes. Making work is like travelling, the process itself is more important than any specific aim. Photography is my clearest mode of expression. I’m very focused in this respect. It’s pretty much the only thing I can do.
It’s a way of thinking, a means of expression.
I guess any practice, any process of things manifesting always occurs in the presence of a clear goal. As soon as there’s motive there’s a goal, it’s like eating.
Method is determined by ones thinking and past experience, the same things that determine changes in method as the process itself unfolds. Things progress, they get refined. Who can say whether this is ever really clear or not.
I’m not sure. It’s probably a kind of “cancelling out”, a rescission of sorts.
One of my goals lies in taking certain, indefinite means to bring about this action.
It’s not a matter of rescinding the subject itself. Instead it’s more a matter of responding to the subject as a means to cancel out the self.
Wu Junyong: Art is for me primarily a matter of profession, after which it also amounts to a form of expression. Practice and its respective methods are at times clear, at others vague.
Art’s like a game. Setting the rules in its name, that of art, one either plays it or is oneself played. The game’s rules are always being set and reset, being put to question, broken; there will always be exceptions. Although its rules are themselves abstract, the game’s role however is quite concrete, at the same as it is frequently subject to unprecedented transformation. Art resembles such a game in its vicariousness, this and its being addictive. The distinction between the two lies in the fact that, unlike any game, art doesn’t tend to let its players die outright.
Art is in a way also a sort of consolation, of ones finding elation in subjective liberation. The goal of this sort of elation is like the sensation itself, difficult to describe. Given there’s no clear goal as such, the method too isn’t all that worth worrying about. Everyone gets their kicks differently.
Xiao Bo: Art is a sort of inclusive trajectory. It’s likely there are aims and methods, nonetheless, these are not at all clear.
Yang Junling: For me, art is something predestined, both a matter of chance and of inevitability. Art practice itself does possess clear aims, one of which is to engage ceaselessly in self-analysis. The means by which people go about this are variable, ever changing and obscure.
In my opinion, art depends on interest, it is way of living, of realising ones self.
What affirms a goal is its being transcended, allowing it to become a way of living and doing things that can thus be subject to doubt, remodelled.
The root significance of methodology is in its becoming method upon enunciation, receiving gradual clarification as a fruit of ones putting things into practice. Nonetheless, a lot of this is about muddling ones way through by trial and error. In the unity of practice, the difference between method and experiment is I feel quite indiscernible.
Yu Qiongjie: As a designer, for me art functions as an additive in the design process. When I reflect upon my aims in this process, art allows me to hone my perspectives.
Zhou Yilun: It’s about varying ones approach, shattering limits, encroaching perpetually upon this nebulous thing called art. There’s no goal as such and there are no limits with regard to method. You don’t need to go to the office every day.
Zhu Changquan: It’s all a process of personal refinement, beginning with ones coming to terms with ones self. When these issues are solved, all that’s left is to communicate what remains.
For me, art is a means of realising ones self. Or rather, this is what I strive to make it.
There isn’t always a clear goal present when one begins making a work. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of letting materials, letting the medium lead you into making new and exciting inroads. Of course, the final result will be founded on a more sustained scrutiny of those principles that emerge within the work itself.
Zheng Wenxin: For me, it’s both a process and means of exploring the truth. Regardless of whatever medium one uses to make work, I believe everything is an image, a mental reflection of ones surroundings, of the universe even. My goal in making work is - at the same time as I undercover different facets of myself - to explore my relationship to my immediate context. The development, the evolution of this relationship is of considerable interest to me. The methodology of my practice is very clear.
Li Shengzhao: What kind of relations does your practice engage in with “society”? In an everyday context, do you tend to go about things diligently or in a more leisurely way? How do you feel this attitude influences your work?
Alex Gibbs: The paintings that I make are almost entirely concerned with aspects of society. The vast majority of the paintings I have made over the last few years have attempted to discuss trends in society and the way we as individuals behave within these. These are themes that are informed by day-to-day living, so I don’t consider there to be any boundary between my thoughts on my “life” and my “practice”. For that reason, I would say that the way I go about bringing these paintings into existence is both leisurely and diligent! Especially recently, where most of my waking hours have been spent in the studio. These hours are not a chore and are certainly full of leisure.
Bignia Wehrli: Society is too complicated, I’m not able to relate to it. I prefer to look from farer away (f.e. from a bird’s-eye view) or from very close (f.e. from an ant’s-eye view) and to focus on individual traces. The ideas appear „by the way“ but pursuing them often requires a lot of work and persistence. As my works often contain invisible processes, which are the key for an understanding, they might have a more “endothermic” appearance: a spectator first has to put in some energy and imagination in order to grasp it.
Candida Höfer: Since I mainly - although not exclusively - make images about spaces, and since spaces involve both the desires of a society and have impact on society this is how I think I incorporate society in this tension of what it desires, aspires and is subjected to. - As said before for me Art is an obligation to be as diligent as possible with my work. I owe this to those who look at my work and I owe it to myself.
I’ve always wanted to “change the world” ideally, but unfortunately - I’ve found - all one really ever does is “massage”. Although the force of this itself isn’t great, at least its consistent.
I would like to think I go about things in a more leisurely sort of way. Still, I’m always busy. This has let me learn how to effect a sort of automatic, personal “slo-mo”, to “focus”, “compartmentalise”, make “speed transitions” and so on. My rhythm is one of constant negotiation. And yet, making work for me is like drinking water. No matter where, no matter when, there’s nothing ever really prevents me accessing that state of mind.
It’s true that I rely on society for raw material. I don’t however see what possible effect my work might have.
My lifestyle is usually quite hectic. I’m not fond of this, I really ought to mellow down, focus on my work. Tiring yourself out with too much hard graft makes a person agitated.
My practice’s relation to society: One of spontaneous dialogue.
My everyday working dynamic: It lets me have time enough to go play basketball, to see the sunset from the riverbank. It’s pretty leisurely.
How to approach the impact this has on my work: Go to the riverside less, exercise more.
In today’s “society”, there are too many concepts, too many limits determined by habit and convention. More often than not, my practice offers an intermediary by which to discern both myself and my relationship with the world around me. At the same time I wish also to use this medium to wheedle out the the resonances between the aforementioned conventions and these my truest, most candid sentiments.
In daily life, my state typically vacillates between extremes of relaxation and fervour. The admixture of these contradictory states results in my experiencing all kinds of peculiar sensations: a sense of strangeness when faced with things familiar, of unease with my own permanent surroundings, perhaps a sense of alienation on meeting my peers. I am currently attempting through my work to alleviate myself of such sensations, not bombarding the viewer, but rather hoping that through their interaction with the work, a strain of novel, even irrational, empathic communion might arise.
The way I see it, practice and this notion of a “society” can be thought of more clearly in terms of “collectivity”. I am myself at once a part of multiple “collectives”, entities which themselves compose “society”. Observation occurs when one moves amongst the “collective”, work gets made when one withdraws.
I’m mostly busy, my work reflects this. From this state of busyness, gradually I develop a sense of order, at the same time, it’s this kind of state itself that provides the work with its emphases and structure.
Society is the most important subject to observe, a structure of massively complex proportions, brimming with all manner of varying connections, phenomena, objects, clues, hidden passages, middlemen, obstacles … In the midst of all this, to engage in artistic practice is itself a means of inquiry. I do what I can to try and extract certain fundamentals, putting heart and soul into producing a variety of tools (artworks) as I make my way along.
I’m quite busy at the moment. But most of this can be apportioned to my making new work, something I enjoy.
“Society” is prerequisite for any artistic practice, the same as it is for life. I feel this problem, isn’t really a problem at all.
As far as practice goes, it goes without saying one needs to keep busy. Every business set up always has to face the issue of their requisite “quotas”. This isn’t something that can be arrived at at leisure. The hands of the aficionado are always the deftest, the most ruthless. Of course, I still have to try and be more industrious than I am now in my working.
Hua Peng: Compared with the methods I employed several years ago, now my practice is gradually becoming more compartmental and stratified in its structure. Momentary changes can cause me to transition between different states, this is all very different from how I used to work. Just after I graduated, I put a lot of energy into my work. Now, because of my job, this way of working has changed. There’s no saying which way is best, it has to be a matter of making choices as it comes to meet the present’s requirements. For me, the biggest influence has been in making the transition from producing “personal”, “sentimental” work, to more “everyday”, “socially oriented” and pragmatic work.
Contradictory, entangled, somewhere between intersection and severance. It’s really only young people torment themselves by looking for an “outsider” perspective.
Everyone’s busy, it’s a sign of the times. My work takes place from within just such a state of affairs. Efficiency itself is nothing to be ashamed of.
Jiang Zhuyun: Obviously, I’m not prolific, nor do I often repeat myself, this is something I’ve always required of myself. I see every exhibition or performance as a hinge, an opportunity to take my previous inquiries and hypotheses and express these by means of the work itself. At the moment, whether technical or conceptual, my works all amount to a sort of monologue - I ask a question and I answer it.
We are all members of a society, never, not once have I really reflected on my works’ “relation” to society. I’m interested in my immediate environment and the feedback this gives me.
I’m especially busy these days. I can accept this circumstance. It doesn’t really effect my work, it does impact on my life though.
Liang Manqi: Symbiosis. I’ve been consistently pretty busy this year. Half way through the year I moved from Hangzhou to Shanghai, life’s rhythm speeded up, it all feels very different right now. I need this kind of stimulus for my work.
The relationship between art practice and society never goes beyond the individual’s relation to this. If it leaves this behind it’s nothing.
I’m somewhat worn out, of course, I wish there was more time I could devote to my work.
Society is the background of art practice. I might even go as far as to say that for me it is in the background of everything. And yet, “society” is a very abstract way of putting it, for this is itself something composed of many different people along with a multitude of other components. The best we can hope to do through our projects is to counteract this, mirroring the perpetual action society itself effects upon us.
At the moment, daily life is very hectic. I have at times occupied a state one might describe as a “sedate freneticism” - always pretty good on the whole. I’ve always felt that as far as practice is concerned, a sort of reinforced leisureliness is paramount. But in the same way there are no stipulations for method, here too there’s no determining exactly what will correspond to ones ideal, external condition.
Lou Shenyi: www.baidu.com I’m a spectator. My influence is foolish.
Lu Yang: I haven’t thought much about society as an issue really. Although I’m pretty immersed in my own world, my external surroundings definitely influence my work. I’m usually pretty busy from day to day but there are also extremes of leisure. It’s a matter of appraising the circumstance.
Merijn Kavelaars: I paint directly from feeling without any compromises. My work is in a naive way the question: What is freedom. I work with a high degree of freedom, I\'m not allowed to force myself. My work has influences on my attitude, not my attitude on the work.
The moment I hesitate and wonder that if people appreciate my work or if my work is appreciated in by the society, creativity would be degenerated.
Art is not a Olympic nor a law school. There is no Attitude.
SAN XIAN TV: Our work is part of the production of “society” itself. For us, work’s sometimes busy, at others it’s more relaxed, it all levels out between the time each person spends at work. Sometimes this means the whole working process is quite hectic, stimulating, but once it’s finished, everything goes back to being more leisurely. This is the perfect place from which to acquire perspective on ones projects, one that’s often benefitted to our thoughts about making work.
First of all, my work only very rarely ever invests itself in finished forms. When one goes about things just by sticking “to rote”, more often than not you fail to arrive at the result you’d wished for. Aside from this, there’s the way of working I already mentioned. There are always new potentials. One side of this sort of obstacle to making choices requires that one continually negate ones circumstances. And yet, in my understanding of it, “Society” is something I feel my work somewhat at odds with. This isn’t to say there’s any discrimination involved. This is something I already described really in my answer to the first question.
I could never be as busy as I am when I’m at the office. Nonetheless, one could hardly say my day to day life was leisurely. I can be grateful that my job and my artistic practice somewhat merge with one another. The benefit this state of affairs has on my work is that I find myself with more opportunities to appraise and be appraised. Working alongside people from a variety of backgrounds makes it easier to discover those issues you yourself had perhaps been neglecting. This is applicable especially to any circumstance in which one puts to one side ones “artistic principles”, discovering thus that one has come upon a new platform for ones practice.
My work both originates in and reciprocates with both the natural world and society. Arising from the union of natural scenery and social spectacle, my initial interest in the former begins to admix itself in increasing proportions with reflections on and interpositions within society and history.
I can’t define my working state appropriately in terms of either leisure or industry, its rather more a matter of survival. I put heart and soul into engaging in dialogue with the world around me, observing the varying simplicity or intricacy of the various entities that exist there, documenting these via the most harmonious of means.
I believe that Art can change the world.
Everyday, I\'m filled with this hope.
There is nothing in this world as interesting as Art.
Wang Fei: To locate a trajectory in the midst of this complex environment of ours, one has first to explore. I make at least one extended trip every year, I find this helps me a lot. I like to be a bit aimless. In July this year I travelled along the “Camino de Santiago”, going some 800 kilometres from France, into Spain. It took me 32 days. The work I produced for the solo exhibition I produced for the Inna Contemporary Art Space was all completed during a trip I made through the Karakoram mountain range through Pakistan.
Practice and society are the poles, I’m the filter in between.
I’m busy, my practice isn’t the only thing in my life. No matter if I’m at leisure or busy, my work requires constant attention, this and the associated productive effort. It’s a process that requires care and objectives. It’s not just a matter of rigidly completing each task, nor is there ever not something that needs doing.
I’m not sure, it’s probably a sort of “mutual rescission”, again, a cancelling out.
There’s busyness at the same time as there’s industry. They’re tangled up in one another, producing a sort of spring. They balance each other out.
The distance between my work and the social is also always fluctuating. Sometimes it comes very close, at others it drifts further away.
The dynamic of my daily activities is the same, vacillating constantly between laxity and rigour. This is at once a process of gathering experience, of making ends meet; at the same time as it is one of reflection and adjustment.
As far as concerns society, I myself am a spectator. I imagine myself as a filter, skimming off a significant number of the more dominant signals to intercept instead those weaker transmissions, those society ignores, taking my work as a means of magnifying these beyond any merely realistic proportions.
Busyness isn’t a state I aspire to, it’s just a reality. The exhaustion that follows industry provides one with ground from which to gather new perspectives on ones work, preventing mere sentimentalism, and expressing rather a sort of emotional necessity — the body itself functioning here as an aid to ones strategising.
Talking about the relationship between artistic practice and society is the same as talking about a person’s relationship to society.
Busyness and leisure have nothing to do with making work.
A certain portion of my work does engage with society.
I keep myself busy. Sometimes it’s as if there weren’t enough hours in the day and I have to cut short my projects. At the same time however, this provides me with an objective perspective on my work.
Ye Nan: At present I’m involved in a number of projects, with each I do what I can to try and provoke the viewer in some way. As it stands, on the face of it people have a lot to say, but they don’t tend really to express how they feel. This is a barrier that needs to be broken. This isn’t something that can be done at a whim, it requires a certain fortitude. We are living in the age of perennial capital. Although at times everyone feels the strain, in the thick of it, it’s really very difficult to pull ones self out. My work is essentially a means of making people pull together - so to speak. In the projects I engage in collaboratively, really we started developing a socially engaged practice quite early on. Although we’ve already done a lot, there’s still a lot of hard work to be done. Of course, one has to try out those more far-fetched ideas, one has to experiment, but at the same time as this, one has to be pragmatic. We have to pull together.
My work has always existed in close relation to “society”. As paired elements, “design” and “society” work to regulate one another.
Freneticism is the rhythm of existence for me. This kind of hectic, yet controlled state of mind spurs me on no end when I’m thinking things through. In this way, new ideas and creativity arise quite spontaneously.
I take practice as a means of coming to terms with this strange thing called society, ultimately it’s within this that it all comes to exist. There’s no way my work can change society, it however is constantly being pushed to change, to progress, becoming another patch of land upon the social landscape, a place for rest, for appreciation, to plant ones feet. There might be a hope that one day it might turn into a beautiful vista, that is, had it not already been inundated with garbage. It’s impossible to get rid of this detritus, this makes the setting all the more exceptional.
In terms of my inward state, I guess I’m mostly at my leisure, albeit my schedule is always very busy. My productivity is always assured if I just follow my inclinations. There’s isn’t however anything really to speak of in terms of social contribution, nothing in terms of real assistance as such. In time, I really ought to try and do something for society, for the populace.
I’m not really very clear about the state society’s in, I’m just trying to understand at the moment.
Facing this anxious, worried state, I have my own coping mechanisms, I’m also pretty fond of this feeling. The process of resolving those problems about which one is anxious is at the same time also a process of coming to terms with ones self.
I guess I keep these things at arms’ length.
I’m mostly busy. When I’m busy I produce more. But at the same time this also somewhat monopolises my output, preventing other works’ being made.
As I engage in practice, at the same time, I’m also involved in social interactions. On one level, I take art as a means to engage in dialogue, to make connections; on another, I’m also engaged in creative pedagogy.
I’m usually pretty busy. As far as concerns artistic dialogue, here, it’s not enough just to pursue these things internally, there has to be an external dimension as well. It’s only by engaging in a continuous renewal of stimuli that a practice can maintain its intensity. My experience as a tutor has taught me that self awareness is important. It helps one engage in the constant work of regulating ones train of thought.
Li Shengzhao: What is your view of the collective mechanisms of visual production at work in our societies (mass media, spectacle, branding and so on)? Have you in your work made anything in response to this?
Alex Gibbs: I like the concept of brands that people buy into religiously. This is an integral part to the pursuit of happiness! So, it is a subject I have delved into considerably in my painting. A painting of a carriage full of commuters glued to their phones, a square full of aunties dancing in the evening; These modern collective trends are largely shaped by the media and by marketing and I like to think that those people following the trends are pretty satisfied in life. I wish I had a new phone and a square full of aunties to dance with, then maybe I would be happy……
Bignia Wehrli: I feel more related to visual strategies like in science, where one finds and discovers but doesn’t design pictures.
Candida Höfer: People have always liked to be surrounded by what you call \"visual production\" and they have always liked to participate in \"visual production\". And people have always been able to develop and discuss criteria of what they like and dislike in \"visual production.\" I am optimistic that this capability to evaluate and to make decisions on quality will not diminish in view of quantity.
I don’t like the word “production”, especially when it relates to the word “art”. Making work is itself an enigma, a process that’s both a trial and a joy, a feast or a famine.
I’m always doing my best to react to the world around me.
Chen Chenchen: I have nothing against the mass media. Although I’m definitely dissatisfied with their mechanisms. As long as one remains vigilant that’s enough. It’s paramount we make sure not to go along with the status quo. If one loses vigilance one runs this risk, being “consumed”, in a sense, all the more so if you see the world differently. Other than this, you just have to make sure you’re nourished, to be modest and not get on your high horse about things.
My view of these mechanisms: They’re inescapable.
Have I ever responded to these issues in my work: It’s unavoidable. The things I’m working on at the moment offer a more direct response to these issues. I’m doing my utmost to make it the best I can.
As I already mentioned, we are all already swept up by the burgeoning of our society’s conventions. The film industry is a perfect example - where a battered, eviscerated remnant, some “chicks and guns” abomination, proceeds from the cinematic-political stage to violate the audience’s vision, robbing them of their money and tears.
This is all quite odd. It is the artist’s task to maintain self awareness and a perceptive autonomy in the midst of this. I compose my films from a combination of of violent catharsis (language), non-linear narrative techniques (production) and unconventional viewing apparatus (display), at the same time attempting to win back some of film’s dignity; to glean some trace of calm from amid the “festival” of our buoyant present.
Fang Wei: Clearing away all the technological subterfuge which both surrounds and influences us, what really interests me is what’s behind the logic underpinning visual production itself. Before becoming present as a phenomenal value, the production of any new, visual entity arises precisely from within this, the concealed underside of what can already be perceived.
Image production has been taken down a notch, it’s become more convenient, more rapid and high-volume, the means of production themselves have also diversified. Given to such circumstances, reverence for the production and consumption of images has diminished considerably, all trace of veneration has disappeared from our gaze. By employing modes of visual production different from those of the status quo, perhaps the work of the artist lies in somehow realigning the perspectives of the masses.
My practice has still yet to make any really direct response to this particular issue.
Guo Yilin: The collective mechanisms of visual production at work in society. Really this is all just a part of the “Society” we talked about in the last question. Hence my answer here is the same as it was then.
Hua Peng: Our current work is in engaging in dialogue with these kinds of mechanisms, combining this with an independent stance to achieve a sort of balance in the midst of the massive gamble of it all. There are more and more artists these days choosing to make work in new media. It doesn’t matter whether this is because of any technical revolution, what’s more important is that these media have effectively brought practice, production and broadcast closer together. We are trying to effect “gentle” change in the face of this.
The premise of something’s being “collective” (or “entire”) somewhat obscures any alternative. Occasionally rifts appear, whether this be the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong, or some internet based social movement, of course, if one looks only at the results, one might still refer to these things in terms of spectacle. Still, what we need to look for is the original, logical foundation that underpins these urban phenomena. There are certain among my works that do look for a way into this logic, that search for difference.
One shouldn\'t react, reacting just proves that subjectively we’ve already been assimilated.
Jiang Zhuyun: I’ve always thought more about the audio than I have the visual. This in itself is a response of sorts.
Li Ming: I think things are pretty good in general. To put it more specifically, nothing really effects me all that much. It’s a matter of approach, ones attitude, nothing more. One has to understand though that some people’s attitudes aren’t consistent with their behaviour.
Liang Manqi: My work consists of a variety of colours and forms, sometimes I also make use of certain found materials, incorporating these within the finished work. I don’t know whether or not any of this is really influenced by the “mechanisms of visual production at work in our societies”. Probably. After all, I can’t say these are things I’m not aware of. If I wasn’t so busy working I’d like to spend more time outdoors, to go hiking, scuba-diving. The colours and forms of the natural world are arresting, they give me a very strong sense of the unknown. These feelings are really what’s closest to what it is I want to express.
Liao Wenfeng: I can’t really talk expansively about the collective mechanisms of visual production at work in our societies, these have already become a part of our makeup, our psychology, hence they often present themselves as a subject. We frequently make use of them as a resource, using them in the same way we’d borrow someone’s lighter, the goal remains the smoke.
The way I see it, the production of the social is something that often makes artists feel quite powerless. This powerlessness finds expression when, to some extent an artist might gain access to these mechanisms - catering to the public’s tastes perhaps - but, lacking the ability to establish their own logic as the“Avant Garde” once did, they thus get swept away.
It’s thus that, from a perspective of critical awareness, what I find myself most interested in is rather more how popular culture works to the effect in general of lowering people’s intellectual threshold. In a more positive, active sense, I’m very interested also in analysing the various “devices” popular culture itself employs. You could say that - whether I intended to or not - these are all issues I’ve responded to at some point.
Lou Shenyi: I don’t now what I ought to say. Anything I do say will seem stupid.
Lu Yang: They’re a part of life, there’s no need to isolate them from this. Whether there’s any response to these issues or not relies on the content of ones work.
Merijn Kavelaars: I\'m interested in the conscious and subconscious of human beings. We make a lot of moves we don\'t know we are making, these moves can influence society in different ways, as well as in visual form. An example of this is the visual subconscious you can see expressed in the work \'Mask\'. The small white papers are illustrations random people made without even being aware of doing so (when you buy a pen you test the pen on a paper like this). The moves people make also with their facial expressions, in the words they say, all these things can influence society.
Noriko Shinohara: I\'m proud of my collectors who truly love my works.
SAN XIAN TV: For us, the cause of the present proliferation in the systems of visual production is the exaggerated rate at which hardware is progressing. The only way to keep a clear head in the midst of this process is to “go with it”, neither to watch from the opposite bank, or to immerse ones self in it too completely. Given this as our basis, we react to certain current, cultural trends and phenomena, presenting our own stance, our own questions, albeit we don’t seek to provide any solutions to these.
Shi Chuan: When I was at University I studied design, a one hundred percent social, visual means of production. Given to this backdrop, studying new media, for the whole of those four years I was engaged in exploring issues of artistic identity within such mechanisms. I have nothing against them as such, they’re something very necessary in facilitating the consumption of the populace. For an “artist” like me, coming from two contexts, I never really make a conscious effort to make any sort of reaction to or express anything of this sort, these mechanisms are just an inevitable product of art’s interactions with industry, with production. People require symbols to accommodate the present’s buzzwords. The advent of any mechanism is always itself a kind of order, a structure which as far as I’m concerned simply offers new means for analysis and understanding. Hence I don’t think this really counts as a response as such. My work is mostly about finding my own buzzwords from within these different structures. To a certain extent, this is a sort of introversion, a projection of self.
Yixin Tong: I’m not primarily interested in the mechanisms of visual production at work in our societies as such, so if I make any work that suggests this its spontaneously. Take for instance the work “Every Art Book in the Library / Wind Gauge” (2013). Having perused every art book held in the collections of one library, I used Instagram to photograph various details from their illustrations, appending these with short, improvised texts, before uploading these to the online platform as links. Having engaged in the re-exegesis of each image’s original context, the final result was a short story in the style of a sort of travelogue, itself going by the name of “Wind Gauge”.
Ushio Shinohara: It is a greater pleasure than anything else for me, when my Art is admired by many people.
Wang Fei: The world is technicolor but all I have here is black and white film.
Wang Kewei: The processes of visual production taking place in society, or indeed any other such mechanism, all provide ones practice further points of contact with the social, given also to the addition of new ideas, new experiences. Work made through engagement in public art projects is very interesting for me. This kind of direct, specific work making gives one a chance to interrogate all those merely subjective delusions.
It’s really not all that clear. Again, it’s most likely a kind of “circular rescission”.
In the work “29 Km. Diameter” - a work that is both performative, spatial and textual - this kind of rescission becomes manifest in an intervention. Taking Hangzhou’s West Lake as a centre, I make a hole in a circle 20 kilometres in diameter. This was a work I exhibited in June 2014 in the solo exhibition, “a n”. This work is itself part of my ongoing investigations into “physical-poetic imagery”.
Wu Junyong: The remit of the varying forms of visual production that emerge beyond the limits of the reductive art-system are of considerable interest to me. Gaining access to these things is itself an important part of my practice.
Although a great deal of the visual content that pervades today’s society is quite tedious, it nonetheless still provides us with a peculiar sort of elation. Although this reaction may at first seem contradictory, it remains a very real one nonetheless. Human beings are very complex.
I don’t tend to produce direct responses to issues. This is far too explicit. Anyone can make contingent responses of this sort. It’s similar in a way to how one might answer any question. One might do so directly, at the same time though, one might equally turn it on its head. Double negation is far more powerful than any simple, point-blank rebuttal.
Xiao Bo: It ought to be a kind of parallelism.
Yang Junling: We’re surrounded by images, it’s inevitable these influence us, that we extract from them material, integrating this as part of ourselves.
Ye Nan: Obviously, there’s multiplicity within this mechanism, no one party ever truly has the final say. Certainly, competition is heated, everyone kicks up a fuss, fuelling this can earn one a fortune. But this is nothing compared to us kicking up a fuss of our own. Even if you don’t strike gold you can still get a lot out of it.
Yu Qiongjie: For me, graphic designers are but one of society’s visual “producers”. Of course, we can only hope our contributions amount to a more positive sort of development.
To begin with, the collective mass of all this visual material doesn’t fall into categories of beautiful and ugly, good or bad. Everything is created for a reason, for an audience, it all has the capacity to stir us in some way or another, even those things that have failed, been abandoned or are counterfeited.
One has to regard all visual material with equanimity. I am thankful to every producer, they are all my role models. There’s no need to elicit any specific response through ones practice, it’s just another message in a bottle, ready to be tossed into the vastness of the sea. We all have our crutches, our emotions, its all transient.
Zhu Changquan: I don’t see any problem. It all takes place below threshold. I will respond as and when, if I’m ever influenced.
Zheng Hong: This is a reality we cannot shirk. Like a lot of people, I often take liberties, at the same time letting society shoulder the blame. Hence I often make work to fuel the fire, presenting certain critiques, appropriating certain forms or media from these mechanisms to make work for instance. Of course, I include in this also the use I make of technologies from these mechanisms in making work.
Zheng Wenxin: As far as concerns the mechanisms of visual production at work in our society, I’m both pessimistic, at the same time as I’m stimulated by these things. In the so-called “Society of the Spectacle”, reality itself is far more absurd than any artwork, it’s also far crueller. Its inevitable that one be influenced by these things in making work, although the result isn’t necessarily any kind of realism. To to able to reflect on the internal mechanisms of these phenomena is an indispensable skill for the artist. The complexity of this alone is enough to sustain a lifetime’s research. The influence artists have on society as a whole is really tiny. The way I see it, even if an artist engages constantly in their labours, their impact on society, the spectacle, is probably very meagre.