Animation Now #3: Chen Shaoxiong /by Chris Moore/ Randian:燃点

Chris Moore: What are you currently doing?


Chen Shaoxiong: My work right now has several aspects: my own work is continuing on with the ink videos. As long as I’m in Beijing, I go to my studio practically every day to work on this. The newest ink watercolor animation is related to protests and marches around the world, about collective resistance in social movements. This piece, I predict, will be finished by fall this year. Another aspect is the intermittent trans-Asian cooperative project I’m involved in; whenever we have the chance, whenever we get the support and get invited to an invitation, we the Xijing Men — Tsuyoshi Ozawa, Gim Hongsok and I — will devote ourselves to this collaborative production. The most recent time was in January at the Spencer Museum of Art (at the University of Kansas), where we did a project entitled “I Love Xijing — Xijing School.” And before that was in September in Korea at the Gwangju Biennale, where we did “Welcome to Xijing — Xijing Immigration Services.” We’ve kept this for a while, keeping our collaborations and personal work apart. The third aspect is the cooperation between Chinese artist Liu Ding and me; together we have discussed many issues about the art system and the [role of the] artist in China’s social environment. We have a collaborative project called “A Project without Space,” which we have done six times. The last time was at Pekin Fine Arts, “A Project Without Space #6”. In this exhibition, we looked into the way to understand the creations of others.

我当前的创作有几个方面:我自己的创作是持续水墨录像,只要在北京我几乎每天都去工作室干这些事情,最新的一个水墨动画是有关全世界的抗议和游行,社会运动中的群体反抗,这件作品预计在今年秋季可以完成;另一方面,亚洲合作项目的间断性进行,只要有机会,只有能得到支助或收到展览机构的邀请,我们西京人:小泽刚(Tsuyoshi Ozawa)、金鸿锡(GimHongsok)和我都会全情投入到我们的合作创作中,最近一次的是一月份在美国堪萨斯艺术学院画廊,我们做了一个叫“我爱西京-西京学校”的项目,之前一次是去年九月在韩国的光州双年展中,我们的做了“欢迎到西京-西京移民服务”我们保持这样一种状态,把合作的创作和个人的创作分开,是一种相互的参照;第三个方面就是我和中国艺术家刘鼎的合作,我们一起讨论了很多艺术系统的问题和艺术家在中国社会的处境,我们这个合作项目命名为“没有空间的计划”,已经做了六次,最近的一次合作是在北京艺门的展览“没有空间的计划-6”,这个展览中我们探讨如何理解他人的创作。

CM: What led you to become involved with animation?


CSX: I have never thought that my works would become animation. At first I only thought of linking up continual images of memory. In 2005, I got a bit tired of video; I felt that the video maker or cinematographer always either consciously or unconsciously cut out a partial reality and leave out even more of reality. I felt that video creation could no longer continue in parallel with what we see in life and what we feel in existence, and so I thought of using an even more apt way to express these feelings from life. I connected together all the images of memory from everyday life — that which is unremarked on — or the reactions in my everyday experience. On the other hand, more and more I felt more attracted to the working method of traditional ink painting, and I liked the conditions of creation in the studio. My many years of disdain for tradition seem to have, after all this, found its revenge! The enjoyment I get in the process of creation is something that cannot be compared to any other work I do. And so there was nothing in particular to inspire me to get into animation; it’s just that I got tired of the previous ways of working and just found a new way. As for “animation,” for me its definition is perhaps different. I am not even willing to call these works of mine “animation”; sometimes when I put in notes for the medium of these works, I prefer to call them “video.”


CM: How do you describe the role of narrative in your animation films?


CSX: My “animation films” are anti-narrative; these videos do not attempt to tell the viewers any story, and I don’t want to link up these shots in order to express any content. My videos are conceptual art. But they are formed by many frames, and so we can equally view them as a series of drawings. I think narrative production makes things more literary and I’m not too interested in literariness. The aim of being anti-narrative is to let the viewer return to the direct viewing of the image. When thinking about these questions and issues about the arrangement of visual communication and the ideology of the image, the audience preserves their own selves here — it is a dialogue between the work and the audience — while narrative cinema is frequently about submerging the ego of the audience. This is the basic concept of all my series. I’m against using some pleasing aesthetics to rob viewers of their time. That’s also why my videos don’t really attract people! [Laughs]

我的“动画电影”是反叙事的,这些录像没有试图告诉读者什么故事,我也不想把这些镜头联系起来表达什么内容。我的录像是观念艺术,就像一件观念作品所承载的那些东西。但是它是由很多幅画面组成的,我们也可以将它看成组画。我想叙事的工作更加文学性的,我对文学性没有多大的兴趣 。反叙事的目的也是让观众回到对图像的直接观看,对图像信息的处理、对图像所包含的意识形态的思考这些问题上来,观众在观看这些东西的时候自我是存在的,是作品和观众之间的对话,而叙事的电影往往是消灭观众的自我意思。这也是我所有创组的基本观念,我反对用愉悦的美学去盗窃观众的时间。这也是我的录像不那么吸引人的原因。哈哈!

CM: Where did you grow up and were you introduced to art?


CSX: I was born in the south of China, in a coastal city in Guangdong province called Shantou. I grew up there until I went to the Guangzhou Art Academy at the age of eighteen. I remember the first time I came into contact with drawing was because my brother and some of his friends often dragged me to become their life model — maybe they couldn’t find anyone else to help them out. In their drawing rooms, I saw some books on painting; back then, they were mainly about Soviet art. After I got interested in these pictures, I basically followed them around everyday to see them sketch from life. Slowly, I started sketching myself. Learning how to draw was my greatest joy when I was young; it killed a lot of my dead time. But as for really seriously getting into art, that happened after I got into the Guangzhou Academy of Art. At that time, art education was still rather conservative, but several good friends of mine and I discovered treasures within the library. Everyday we bathed in the images we found there. There were lots of painting albums, Chinese and foreign, along with many art magazines from the Soviet Union and from America. We started to teach ourselves; my later artistic practice has this knowledge as the base.


CM: Who were your first influences?


CSX: I’ve already forgotten who influenced me first. When I was growing up, we didn’t have the resources to be exposed to too much outside information, while our education in art history was also fragmentary. The things I loved were not something consciously chosen, but rather depended on the time I had with those images. I remember first liking Camille Carot and Jean-François Millet of the Barbizon School, and later liking Käthe Kollwitz and Munch. And then later from Cézanne and Pollock, to Miró and Dalí, and finally to Duchamp and Pop Art. By the early 1990s, we started looking into Fluxus. I really don’t know whose tradition my teachers took in. I thought I only learned how to act against a tradition. And then I started to work. Now I feel that way of thinking was too simplistic and immature. If I want to know who influenced me the most, I would have to — like you all — go back to my previous works to discover this slowly.

我已经忘记最早受过谁的影响……我成长的那个年代我们没有条件接受到太多的信息,我们的艺术史教育也是零散的。我所喜欢的东西不是从全面的比较中挑选出来的,而是取决于我得到那些图像的时间。记得我先是喜欢巴比松的科罗和米勒,后来喜欢苛勒惠支和蒙克,再后来喜欢塞尚和波洛克、再后来喜欢米罗和达利,再后来喜欢杜尚和波普艺术,到了九十年代初,我们开始研究激浪派……我真不知道我师承了谁的传统。我想我只是学习到如何反传统,然后便开始工作,而现在我觉得那种想法太简单太幼稚。 如果想知道我受谁的影响,我自己也和你们一样,必须回到以前的作品中去慢慢寻找。