Q & A
The interview was conducted by Joseph Lyn as a derivative conversation to the practice: the Kingdom on a hill
Q: Could you please tell me a bit about your work?
A: I have been making watercolour paintings in a relatively traditional manner, but it has been expanded to a wider range of media as well as formats. I am engaging in landscape identity and the process of its formation. I depict questions revealed in these themes, or I invented as ideal hypothesises, then reflect on them to catalyse the development of critical thinking. Majorly I focus on Cornish landscape, and explore how images of a landscape can be used to define a particular identity.
Q: Could you please tell us about the project you are currently making? And what’s your motivation for engaging in this topic?
A: I read about how pre-history megaliths degraded into natural landscapes due to their economic functionality perished. In response to that “landscape is the result of the dynamic interaction between human activity and economic demand”, I found many landscapes, ruins, heritages that sublimed into symbolic powers could be interpreted with this statement; also the definition could be used to explain how human landscape transit between economic achievement, survival installations to natural and cultural heritage. I think visualising how I would challenge its process or depict the essence of this process can be interesting.
Q: Why are you interested in this topic, and how have you been addressing this question?
A: My interest originated from constant visits to this region. I like site drawing and observing individuals. A few journeys after, I realised there is a preoccupied impression that shapes as a gentrified imagination based on Cornwall’s geographic uniqueness. Historically, Cornish landscapes were often depicted similarly to English rural landscapes, but as a branch with a strong emphasis on its regional identity. There was a time I visited St Ives and chatted to a gallery owner. He said the gallery only took work from Cornish artists, which greatly stimulated my curiosity in this identity label and its context. To address the essence of this problem, I have been exploring the factors and determining a particular identity, the relationship between landscape, inhabitants and the landscape, and how the pictorial process of landscape influences the interpretation of identity. Usually, I focus on a small question and gradually expand it to a wider context, although the process can be reversed.
Q: What a successful artwork looks like to you? And how would you push your practice to success?
A: I believe in order to be an artist, one must be recognised by the academic field, colleagues and the market, at least two of them. I consider academic researches as the most important factor currently; hence I believe investigations in the theoretical and historical study in vital in this process.
Q: What is different between your practice and others who work on similar themes?
A: I consider the specificity of the Cornish landscape and its landscape identity as an important feature. I noticed there are many resourceful theses about the county’s economic history and its narrative as a cultural capital. I think bridging these two aspects holds many exciting possibilities. The critical thinking within its process could be tooled to compare other Celtic regions of the UK or being concluded as a methodology for other cases. Technical features of the practice only reflect on material aspects; I believe academic researches and reflective thinking is significant here. Besides, my perspective granted me both angles of the tourist gaze, and as an external examiner to the historical domestic tourist gaze.
Q: Have you met any challenge in your practice?
A: While making a Message in a Bottle, I realised my intense purposefulness when investigating on site could lead to a biased conclusion. For example, I wanted to depict the landscape defined by tourist gazed and heavily influenced by gentrification; hence I particularly went out and search for these landscapes. A filter was unconsciously applied and made my perspective as a preoccupied impression, which I determined to challenge. I, therefore, had to “decolonise myself” in order to claim a foundation objective enough for discussing post-colonialism and, for example, extractive capitalism in perceived economic activities.
Q: What is your major motivation?
A: My interest in the topic, the potential of connecting to other discourses I saw, and most of all, curiosity. I believe expanding my own knowledge embodies individual value. Also, if it had the potential to contribute the knowledge, I feel like it is connected to a self-determined social responsibility.
Q: Could you name a few keywords of your practice?
A: Landscape, Preoccupied Impression, Regional Identity, Cultural Context, Symbolic Power, Identifying, Redefining and Transforming Landscape.
Q: What is art, and what is your art to you?
A: First of all, art is a lifestyle instead of a subject. It represents a pattern of thinking, reflecting, and critical analyses of what is reasonable and what is not. It creates possibilities in an ideal way, and its outcome can remain unpractically idealised, or be projected onto reality. Secondly, perhaps I am heavily influenced by Land Art; I believe art is an effective method of practice to reduce the entropy of a complex context significantly. The recent publish Illustration Research Method addressed the blurred boundary between fine art and illustration, which, I could humbly say that I witness the debate and evolvement of this discussion. Art, in whatever its format, could be considered as a visualisation of a specific context. For example, a historical image, the emotion and experience of a painter, a reflection in colonialism and etc. Artists merge their lives into these creations, and it often describes “a work representative to r a period of whose career”, thus I believe, essentially, art is a carrier, a metaphor to conclude a chaotic space; and it constructs systems to identify patterns in a random limbo. My works, especially the relatively recent ones that reflect on my interest and investigations in history and landscape identity, were created according to this idea. In Chinese, the word illustration directly translated as visual support materials. I’d say, my art is the illustration of my thinking and reflection.