Interview - Wang Yuyang

Interviewer: Tang Xin Su Wen Xiang (hereinafter referred to as "Curator")

Interviewee: Wang Yuyang (hereinafter referred to as "Wang")

Curators: Please talk about your education background and your present job.

Wang Yuyang: I entered the attached middle school of Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1996. After I graduated in 2000, I entered the Stage Designing Department of Central Academy of Drama. After I graduated in 2004, I got a job. In 2006 I quit and continued to study in the Experimental Art Department of Central Academy of Fine Arts. I got the Masters Degree there in 2008, and then I became a teacher there.

Curators: You once studied in the Stage Designing Department of Central Academy of Drama. How does this background affect your art?

Wang: During the days in the Central Academy of Drama, I learned more about materials’ natures and how to use and present the materials in space. Abundant drama script reading and visualizing practices taught me more about how to use space to control situations.

Curators: As a teacher of Central Academy of Fine Arts and an artist that understands things deeply, what do you emphasize in your teaching?

Wang: Thinking and training. I think I can only help my students learn how to face things and express them rationally.

Curators: How do you guide the students close to the essence of art when they are accepting the academic training process?

Wang: The essence of art? I think if they can get the ability of thinking and analyzing, they will be close to the self-expression of art.

Curators: What’s your hobby besides working and making art?

Wang: These two are lovely enough, nothing else. In a daze and drinking beer?

Curators: In many of your artworks, I can feel the efforts you made to explore the essence of things. Sometimes you stripped the exterior of things to examine them, that’s subtraction, or on the contrary, piling up external things and questioning, that’s addition. You get to the bottom of things, what do you suspect? What do you question?

Wang: Because I am unenlightened, so I attempt to explain things with my imagination. I think other people may laugh at me for this.

Curators: Your work Tonight I Will Consider Who I Am (2008) transformed Henry Miller’s words that were written to correspond with Nietzsche’s philosophy: “…tonight, I would think of one man, a lone individual, a man without a name or a country, a man who I respect because he has absolutely nothing in common with you. The man is myself. Tonight I will meditate upon that which I am.” Do you think the things on the earth have to reduce to the essence which we can see only when we separate ourselves from the earth?

Wang: Perhaps, maybe we can also see the essence of the universe.

People are making great efforts to create the essence.

Curators: Your famous work Artificial Moon, the 4-meter-diameter sphere made of various lamp bulbs, is brilliant like a moon. Are you satirizing our great Utopian ideal, or paying a tribute to it? What’s your attitude to the development of modern science and technology?

Wang: Famous? It has nothing to do with the work, but maybe has something to do with Utopia. Your question “Are you satirizing our great Utopian ideal, or paying a tribute to it?” itself is both satirizing and paying a tribute; as does my work, I think. Science and technology is bringing us much convenience and changing us. Meanwhile, it suffers denial and criticism, but it is so awkward, and then comes the new expectation.

Curators: Your works Picture and Charcter and Speaking are included in the 51m2 Project, and they return to the attention on media that art expression depends on in order to reduce human intervention to the greatest extent and let the media express itself: “my original,” like a kind of contemporary response of visual philosophical propositions. What kind of philosophical issues are you interested in?

Wang: Philosophical issues? I think I am not so deep. My work is the issue that I pay my attention to.

Curators: Sometimes you have a grand vision on things. How do you define ‘life’? In traditional content, it refers to a kind of semi-open system that is made of one or several cells which consist of organics and water. The system has a steady metabolism of organic matter and energy, can response to stimuli and reproduce itself. Do you agree with that?

Wang: That’s only a definition. People cannot distinguish things without definition. But the accustomed definitions need to be stimulated, changed or even overturned.

Curators: Humans are flying to outer space to explore the signs of life, what’s your attitude to this?

Wang: Humans are so lonely, so they need to find a similar creature to have a chat, and then kill him.

Curators: What’s your opinion on human behavior in general?

Wang Yuyang: We amuse ourselves; I am that kind of man.

Curators: In your opinion, what’s the relationship between the essence of things and human behavior?

Wang: I am a thing and the questions of this interview are human behavior.

Curators: You are a native Beijinger too. In Beijing, some policies were just instituted recently. For example, the limitation on buying cars and houses for non-locals. In a so-called age of globalization, we are more and more open, or on the contrary, are we further compressing our space?

Wang: I just wanted to change my shabby second-hand car that I have driven for years with a better one. But the policy is now in place; the ownership of my car can’t been transferred, so I have to continue driving the old one. But after all, I do have a car.

Curators: Some of your working processes relate to interdisciplinary cooperation. Do you think that most artists are losing themselves in their own little world, being too narrow and limited? But the world beyond art is so abundant. How does this inspire you?

Wang: I am also losing myself in my own little world, which is no different from other people’s little worlds, so I think I need more abundant things to escape from my own little world.

Curators: Some of your works are connected to new media, and you also keep in contact and cooperate with some curators and researchers who pay close attention to new media. What’s your attitude to the word “new media”? Is it a kind of rhetoric, typology, or redistribution of the inner rights of art history?

Wang: I never deliberate nor distinguish seriously what “new media” is. I only see a lot of different things. They extend the boundaries. I once attempted to distinguish it, but I am not an art critic or a curator. I am only a person who creates phenomenon. I don’t care about what it is, or what I belong to.

It is difficult to divide the boundary; you need the right to do so.

Curators: When we explore and explain the world, do you think our knowledge of it will turn to an entirety or turn to more fragments? When we question the so called noumenon, we attempt to get in touch with the truth, but actually we further collapse the original structure. Do you think that we will never achieve an integrated understanding to the world?

Wang: All the effort is to find the truth, but the truth has nothing to do with effort. I have no ability to affirm, to say ever or never, but I think if we cannot solve the problem about how the human brain works, it is still very difficult for us to understand the world.

Curators: You often attend some international exhibitions and residential projects. When you communicate with foreign artists, on which topics are you most interested?

Wang: What’s your daily life like? How do you deal with the material expenses?

Curators: From the visual form of the artworks we can see that most of the younger generation artists, including the foreign artists, are more and more internationalized. What’s your attitude to that?

Wang: Very well. Thus, everyone is equal, so we can sit down and chat leisurely.

Curators: Please say something about your recent work, or the works made for our group exhibition.

Wang: I have many plans to achieve. At present I am searching for proper partners. Before ensuring the possibility to achieve any plan, my ideas are only fantasies, meaningless.

The work for this group exhibition is based on an idea that I had two years ago. I have been putting this idea into effect. It is to examine the relationship of object and bodily emotions in a personal way.

Mar 3, 2011

Su Wenxiang, Tang Xin (interview)