Let Things Tell

Interviewer: Yang Juan (hereinafter referred to as “Yang”)

Interviewee: Wang Yuyang (hereinafter referred to as “Wang”)

Wang Yuyang’s creative practice is strongly speculative. In delivery, he carefully speculated on the selection, usage and effect of medium. From his Breath series, Moon Landing Program to Picture and Character, Speak, Wang Yuyang kept on speculating without limit with an open and broad vision. From his perspective, we often gain something new.

Yang: Currently, media is not limited to materials only, but stays in a mutually developing and interpreting state with art. How do you interpret the relationship between media and art?

Wang: In today’s artistic creations, media is used in two ways: different mediums can make use of each other and can work against each other. Before, media was only defined and used as a tool or a material with its single characteristic of functionality, delivering the meaning empowered or forced upon it by us. Now we are starting to be concerned with other possibilities, leading to a diversity of artists’ creations to some extent, such as the two concepts of “materializing” and “materialized” proposed in our teaching activities, which reflect different understandings of media. Mostly, traditional thinking and creation were pioneered by the idea: having been inspired by an idea, the artist tried to find a suitable media to deliver the idea, which highlighted the activeness of an artist in the whole creative practice as the main body. But now we are trying to develop idea and media together in creations, even provoking the artist’s idea with certain media.

Yang: Have you showed your ideas about media in your works?

Wang: My work Speak, which I created in Taikang Space in 2010, depicted my thinking about the relationship between functionality and existence of media. In our daily life, tape is a carrier to record and transfer the other’s voice, whose existence is seemingly to act as the other’s microphone. We recorded with a recorder the sound of producing the tape bought by us, then transferred the sound to the bought tape. Then, the media which was used as a recording tool began to tell of its own production and development. The tape was changed to tell about itself, we were changed into listener from user, i.e. the object began to perform the subject’s rights and again change itself into the object. In addition, my installations in the Breath series display the interaction and dialogue between the media or object with the space and the audience. In these works, media was actually treated as something alive. We should look more for other possibilities of media besides its functional value. I hope to create more open and more inclusive works to deliver more internal experiences and new comprehensions. The objective of all my efforts and trials is to let things deliver their own meaning or let works tell themselves.

Yang: Currently, it seems that media can be used for any purpose in artistic creation as art develops. Are such indefinite choices empowering artists with more freedom? In your creation of specific works, how did you finally decide on the use of certain media?

Wang: I never limit myself in choosing media and techniques. But I was never purposeless, either. Only when media and technique began to talk with me, and we deeply understood each other, our cooperation would start. In this cooperation, I still kept seeking for the meaning of our cooperation, even sometimes I denied our cooperation, during which the anxiety and worry may be the greatest fun between us.

Yang: Your works are always questioning in the context of visual metaphor, and you are always catholic in selecting materials, sometimes you even turn to technical and technological means, such as in Tonight I will Consider Who I Am and the Artificial Moon. Your works are very different from each other in form. Is the diversification of medium changing artists, diversifying their artistic exploration?

Wang: I do not plan for media, form or narrative style; a work at a certain stage only stands for a chapter of a text. From the perspective of external form and use of media, there is no direct connection between my works, but there is an internally connection between them.

Yang: Are the media related to the times? The newer, the better?

Wang: Different media and technologies appear in different times, that is for sure. The creation and utilization of new-born things will not only push the whole society forward, but also accelerate the development of art, together with the stimulations of new ways of thinking and understanding of the world, which may generate more possibilities for art, because new technology and media itself may create new experiences, and consequently change our existing experiences completely. Now, many artists are using 3D imaging, digital imaging, image recognition, trans-gene and other technologies. However, maybe we should also be careful and critical about technology, especially in an age when technologies and media are rapidly popularized and updated. If a work is only based on cutting edge technology, what would we be left with after a few years when the technology is ubiquitous or superceded? Therefore, if only the meaning of technology or media when it was created is used in artistic creation it may simplify the relationship between art and technology, media. If an artist could make use of a technology but not lose him/herself in it, the work would establish itself with an independent value and meaning even if the technology is no longer popular and modern.

New media is bound to occur as society develops. This may benefit our work currently, so there is no reason to reject or impose limits on it.

(Excerpt from “Let Things Tell,” pp.78–93, Oriental Art Master, 2011)

Apr 22, 2011

Yang Juan (interview)