LEE : Please introduce yourself briefly.
CHEN : I see myself a visual artist works with various medium. My practice has been shifting back and forth between video, sculpture, installation and other forms. But recently years, my works have very much concerned issues and ideas that linked to digital industry, our relationship with objects, and the environments of our surrounding.
LEE : I saw you have worked on motion graphics or video experiments until 2014, but I do not see this type of work since 15. What has caused the form of work to change?
CHEN : I still use motion graphics in my video occasionally, but just not so complicated ones. I was just exploring new medium at that time. But I don’t think motion graphics or animations are my thing. I simply have no that kind of patient. I enjoy editing videos or creating some 3D models but sitting in front of computer is torturing.
LEE : Your work is penetrating cities, people, and products. How is your interest related your work?
CHEN : I’m interested in these intertwined status. We live in the space full of objects and images. They proliferate through the extraction from both natural and artificial resources. And human’s relationship with each other, with objects and landscape have been constantly changing, swinging between materialism and animism. These things interests me. And I want my works can have the freedom to sail in these terrains and resonate with certain phenomenon, which very much connected to all these intertwined status of being affected by each other.
LEE : < Insentient Multitude >, You describe China as a ghost. What kind of relationship do you have with Chinese society in your work?
CHEN : I mentioned some ghost towns in China, but not China as a ghost. Cities like Ordos City, Erenhot, Xilinhot and so on, even some new districts in the big cities like Shanghai, they have been built in an enormous scale without living things to migrate in. They somehow feel like became this objects and materials dominating world outside of human terrain. I’m interested in those towns because they seem like unsync from the time-scale given by human. But unlike ruins, they have different quality other than decade after human’s absent. They are brand new, and designed to be ready for all human-need functions, but somehow they detached and fell out from the human made timeline, an accelerated production, also far from the decading ruin. I think they quite speak to our situation now.
LEE : I'd like to talk about < The Fall (advance copy) > Foxconn is frequently mentioned in China. Is there any reason you became interested in it?
CHEN : I guess there are two aspects I wanted to work with this topic. Working class’s situation has concerned me for long time. But it stayed in the discussions with friends and didn’t enter to my practice in making. I didn’t know how to position myself or my works in all these rapid and complex changes. Also, I was very drawn to the idea of fall, which synced between materials, devices, and humans. Since around 2009, Foxconn became well-known with workers suicide and it’s working condition. It became quite a stereo-typical subject when people talk about labor abuse. So it provides me an easy angle to probe in but also it remains quite still a symbol or index that points to many other factories. Other than those reasons, it’s also quite interesting but bizarre to work on the subject that is global-wide scale, but at the same time, it’s entrepreneurship started from the same district I was born and raised.
LEE : Were there any mental or physical difficulties in making ?
CHEN : Yes it was challenging. There were many difficulty in shooting around the factory, talking with theworkers, or finding the right found footage. But the very difficult part is to set the tone for the work.When I first started this project, I wanted the work focus more on the momentum of how objects,materials, and labor are moved and displaced by the international recycle and production chains. I didn’twant to make another activist documentary on how bad the labor condition in Foxconn, or how it’s notworse than many other factories. But after done more research and the trip to Foxconn. It took me awhile to find the balance between keeping the nuance to the work and channeling the workingcondition.
LEE : Why you didn't screen < The Fall > in China? This works is their story.
CHEN : It actually did screen in China, in some small events. However, I think this work is the story of many of us, most of us. These issues, or symptoms I would call them, are synchronized globally, produced by the accelerated production and consumption cycle. We are all playing a role in this chain. I don’t think the working situation in Samsung would be better than this Taiwanese factory in China or a Swedish clothing factory in Cambodia. For instance, many footage in The Fall (advance copy) were shot by my iPhone. Factory workers’ representations are not only hidden behind the production line but again produced by my device, a product made by them. And the iPhone I used for shooting, of course, accidentally fell from my hand and broke.
LEE : Sure, urbanization, capitalist society, and consumption society are common issues all over the world.However, you often borrow China as an issue. Is there a particular reason why you mention China ?
CHEN : My works deal a lot with speed, the speed of reproduction, of the proliferation of things. Although thisacceleration is a world wide phenomenon, it has been manifested probably the most in China.Manifested not only in the sense of recycle, reproduction, the change of the life cycle of objects,materials, or even labor, but also manifested the symptoms that synchronized with these acts. So Chinabecame a more approachable source I can use when talking about some more universal issues. Also, Iguess it also has to do with the way I work with internet. When researching on the certain topics, newsin China of course gets covered more thoroughly from organizations all over the world, It gets attention.I kind of naturally consume a lot of these information from China when working on these topics.
LEE : In Korea, also, rapid modernization and human rights issues are exploding all over the place.
CHEN : Yes indeed. There’re just many inspiration I got in Korea, especially there’re so much similarity between Taiwan and Korea culturally but turn out in different ways. The working condition from the 80’s to present, the Shamanism culture, the situation with North Korea, or the Han (한) culture, there are many intriguing things and events to talk about. For instance, the entertainment industry, it’s quite fascinating. During the time there, I found out, in terms of nudity, people are very conservative and open at the same time. I was told not to run with topless, and other girls said that they got stared at when fabric is too less. However, so much tolerance for the mass media images. Somehow sexy and sexual can only be produced through images but not performed in everyday life by us, the image recipients.
LEE : You mention digital culture and consumerism in your work. In particular, < Vapor Equilibrium > refers to digital images and production. How do you think digital culture interacts with the senses of ourgeneration?
CHEN : I think it’s part of our landscape by default. We definitely sense and perceive things very differently thanpre-digital ear, and that can be discussed through so many different aspects. But the desire or the needof faith probability haven’t changed much. We just need to work that out into the screen. However, thevirtuality versus reality, still is an angle that commonly been taken while talking about related issues. Orwhen people talking about the digital, they don’t think it’s so material.In , I try to deal with the faith and desire in productivity into image and cloud andalso the physicality and materiality in digital production. In Taiwan, the more exuberant incense smokein a temple, the more strong worshippers a temple has. Our belief in producing data and image to thecloud computation share similar lifting momentum. So I’m sort of creating an scientific and fictionalnarrative which places the image production and smog side by side.
LEE : Through your work, what is the most important story you would like to tell?
CHEN : I am not sure if there’s a most important story i want to tell. Sometimes I want to tell certain stories, or connections. But I also want my works to depart from the stories given by me,to exist and perform by themselves through the interaction with others. I hope other people have stories for my art works.