Al-tiba9 Liu Gongjie's personal interview

Liu Gongjie

10 Jun 2022

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You come from industrial design background background, and you later became an artist. What made you shift from fashion to art?

My previous work emphasized problem-solving as the core, serving customer needs, and being concise and clear. But such work often becomes part of a huge division of labor system, that is, contemporary industrial designers inevitably fall into the coercion of consumerism. Become the role of producing sensory stimuli for consumers. I'm not looking forward to being this character. I want to communicate directly with the public, I want to explore the poetry of everyday life and make my own claims about specific social issues.


How much did your background prepare you for the work as an artist? Do you find any similarity in these fields?

I am grateful for my experience as an industrial designer, it has been very rewarding

First, I can be familiar with how the production system works and understand the needs of the public, which allows my creation to be rooted in the social context.


The second is solid manufacturing skills, the knowledge of materials and the skillful use of creative tools allow me to focus on the artistic concept itself without being restrained. without being bound by reality.


Finally, interdisciplinary competence We are often faced with complex and even undefined problems, and we need to break boundaries and come up with creative solutions. This is good training for me.

In general I think there is a high degree of similarity in practice as an artist and a designer. It's just that as an artist I will be more relaxed, I can express myself more freely

In your work you confront issues related to posthumanism, organicism, and material culture. How do you incorporate such themes in your production?

Overall, my work is centered on technology critique. I explore how to make technology work better and better. I build bridges between the public and professionals and build critical discussions. Thereby seeking a more desirable future for our society. To this end I maintain intensive focus in several related areas


About posthumanism:

My projects focus on the connection between the physical world and the virtual world, revealing and presenting the inner connection between these two dimensions. Explore how human beings will become trans-boundary and trans-dimensional beings in the future.


About material culture:

Matter as a narrative medium is ubiquitous in my projects, and I think matter is a good medium for conveying information and emotion. By creating a series of physical props, this is my project's way of maintaining communication with the fish public.


About Organicism:

On the one hand, I will focus on the relationship between humans and ecology, and more importantly, I will be able to embrace a diverse narrative. Including cultural diversity and technological diversity. It is actually very important to look at each other's differences with an equal and inclusive mentality.


Your series Emotionally Harmonious Cyborg Future “explores a possible future”, where human beings transform themselves into cyborgs. How did you come up with this concept?

The key to cyborgs is first found in Donna Haraway's article "The Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century"


The idea of cyborgs is also widely used in literary and artistic works, but thanks to the great advances in digital technology recently, this idea has become an increasingly part of our reality. Therefore, in the 2020s, it is very valuable to explore human-machine symbiosis and the impact of digital technology on human beings. So I created this dance drama, which uses everyday life as a scene to show people how a cyborg human can cope with the challenges of life.


Do you think that human-machine symbiosis is the future we are about to witness? And how can this symbiosis, in your opinion, influence art?

Yes, it is already our reality. In contemporary times, personal digital terminals such as mobile phones and watches have become part of our body as our technical organs. Without them our daily life would encounter many difficulties. Our symbiosis with technological things is an immutable fact, but I would love to see it happen. From an artistic point of view, I think its influence is mainly:


Diversification of Media In the past, artistic creation always sought material carriers, just like paper to painting and materials to installations. But now the first piece of code, a beam of light, a piece of information, or a relationship can itself be a medium for art. This will greatly expand the boundaries of the art form. For artists, we have more choices to express our ideas.


From borders to membranes, borders mean absolutely unbreakable, which keeps artistic creations typed and isolated from each other. Because we are stuck in an absolutely mechanical way of knowing. But when we become human beings. The unity of man as subject has also been broken. This means that there is no absolute boundary to speak of, and the membrane becomes an effective way to limit the respective forms, and the information can communicate with each other. This will bring about a huge internal drive for artistic creation. And more diverse artistic practices emerged.


The work is a mix of performance and visual arts, that you define as a dance drama. How did you choose these outcomes and how has it influenced the work?

I actually learned a lot from this project. In the past, I used to plan a concise path and present a clear plan. This is the way a designer works. During this project I began to learn to take nourishment from my team members, who are professionals in their respective fields on the one hand, and I was able to start enjoying the feedback the environment gave me to advance the project.


In my specific work practice, what I follow is the rule of thinking through making. We will pay close attention to the emergence of inspiration in the scene and make it a part of our work. It really improved our ability to deal with emergencies under the circumstances. And I found that there is room for each of our talents, which is a very beautiful creative process.


Regarding the dance drama, you see that it doesn't have a lot of quick transitions and dynamic movements. I actually got inspiration from traditional oriental dramas, whether it is Chinese Peking opera or Japanese Noh drama, we can see highly stylized movements. I prefer to call it an interpretation of life, a symbolic expression. I look forward to letting the audience see the commonality hidden in daily life and find a momentary connection in their own experience.


What was the most challenging part of this project?

Limitations of the external environment

At that time, due to the epidemic, the school was still semi-closed, and we could hardly get any effective resources, venue personnel and equipment support from the school. We need to build a variety of ways to do backup solutions. And because the nodes of the dead line are so close, I have to be strong and face those problems head on. Therefore, the creative process is not easy.


First time as a director

This is an interdisciplinary attempt. As a director, I am inexperienced, so I need to continue to learn in the process, such as mastering the shooting scene, dealing with emergencies at any time, and maintaining tacit communication with my team members, Luckily we ended up on schedule. Thanks to my team members, I am proud of them.


Let’s talk about the future, is there anything you would like to experiment with? Or any new technique you would like to incorporate in your production?

I'm very interested in interactive imaging, and maybe it's not a new technology. But it does change the way we interact with video art practices. It is a visitor-centred, multi-line narrative. Higher requirements are put forward in creation. This in itself is an interesting thing. More importantly, it highlights a default underlying concept. That is, there is no single way of perceiving and presenting events, we live in a diverse world, and we encourage differences and engage in dialogue with an inclusive mindset.


What do you think of NFTs and all the recent changes in the artworld that came out in the past couple of years, such as digital exhibitions and art fairs?

First of all, I have to affirm the progressive significance of its emergence. I have tried NFT, which greatly encourages the creation of digital art. Each digital art work has its own unique identity. This addresses digital art concerns about intellectual property issues. But in essence, I think that NFT brings a kind of path innovation, not ontology innovation. We're just incorporating digital artwork into the ranks of art exhibitions. And the way of viewing/evaluating artwork hasn't changed much. Therefore, there are many capital promotions in the current overly sought-after method. As an artist, it is better to do more within one's ability, and not to give up one's original creative intention in order to pursue capital.

I have nothing against the digital exhibitions and art fairs spawned by NFTs, which expand the forms of art creation and presentation, allowing more people to find their own narrative style. However, the current NFT artworks are still mixed, and the management method needs to be optimized. I look forward to a more benign NFT operation, which will become a big stage for artists to promote and present their works and ideas.

And lastly, what are you working on right now? Any upcoming exhibition or new series you are in the process of developing?

I'm creating new video work that explores the relationship between humans and our ecosystem, working in an interdisciplinary team.

It will be completed in the second half of this year. I am also looking for more extensive exhibition opportunities, and I hope that my works can be seen by more people. I also welcome artists with the same interests and people from various professional backgrounds to create together.

Let the idea fly!