Destiny is a Japanese fantastic movie adapted from reasoning comics of Ryohei Saigan. In the movie, a reasoning writer in Kamakura solved a weird case with his wife Akiko. After Akiko has been kidnapped by a demon, the writer invades the netherworld to save his wife.
In the movie, “netherland” appears repetitively (netherland is equal to the hell in western culture). There, dead people lead their lives in another world although they have to live with strange demons and ghosts. “Netherland” is depicted as an eternal harbor of human life by the director. It is not an end. People can even visit or leave the place. I think this is the main topic of the movie – living and death. We must admit that Japanese people are calm in front of death. However wonderful their life are, they can always accept death calmly and easily just like a daily routine. Their attitudes to death and obsession with love and marriage make them realize an eastern theory – The life and time just run like water without any trace, leaving only the understanding of life.
The demons and alien surroundings in the movie do not depress the audience like similar movies. Instead, it gives people a new feeling of childishness through colors, symbols and figures. All these features inspire me a lot in my works. So I try to construct such a feeling in my works. All these features can be attributed to the director, an excellent visual master. But my works are always stationary and 2-D, unlike the film which uses direct and multidimensional pictures (background music and plots) to create the boundary between living and death in terms of time and space. I really hope to acquire multi-media and video techniques to perfect my future works.
Shan Hai Ching and Chinese artist Wu Jianan
Shan Hai Ching is an old Chinese book recording strange things with the writer unknown. It is said the book was written some people in Chu or BaShu of China between the late Warring States Period and the Han Dynasty. The book has 18 parts, 5 parts for Shan Ching and 13 parts for Hai Ching. It mainly includes geography, ethnics, medicine, materials, rituals and witch doctors in folk tales. A lot of Chinese ancient myths such as Kua Fu's race with the sun, Nuwa Patching the Hoies in the Sky, the Bird Jingwei Trying To Fill The Sea and Yu the Great Harnessing the Flood are included in it. The most inspiring things in the book are the strange beasts and divinities, which represent Chinese understanding and imagination on unknown things. For example, there is a beast named Ying Yu, which has the body of a fish and the beak of a bird. It sounds like a mandarin duck and represents flood. There is a beast named Jiao, which lives in Mountain Yu and looks like a dog with strips of leopards. It is said that on Mountain Taihua, an beast named Chong Yi has the body of a snake with six legs and two pairs of wings, representing drought…… All these strange beasts are built on real things. Converting all these artistic symbols into artistic resources, I can make my works.
Through Shan Hai Ching, I got to know a Chinese artist, Wu Jianan. When people watch his works, they tend to be attracted by the versatile figures, complex details and rich colors. He takes advantage of bull leather used in traditional Chinese shadow play, stuffed animals and feathers to represent or sculpt the beasts in Shan Hai Ching. He also created many pictures with Chinese traditional symbols. But I believe the techniques and visual effects are not his pursuit. In his art works, many traditional ideas are embedded, questioned, corrected or explained. In my view, his topic is the relationship between individual and whole. Yes, I think this is good art: connecting the past symbols and elements to modern society in his own environment. It is not simply display but a bridge taking people into meditation.
Sigmund Freud and Carl Gustav Jung
To further explore my works “series of dreams”, I have to study psychoanalysis and psychology.
Sigmund Freud and Carl Gustav Jun were explorers in the field of human psychological phenomena and physical and mental health. They both had their own ways to relate to human mental activities and they both had solid theoretical backgrounds and rich experience of human contact. They were dedicated to their careers and respected visitors. They took visitors as vivid beings and understood them as living existence. In Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams, he examined the generation, factors and backgrounds of dreams. His work also includes the forgetting and importance of dreams. The book introduces the concept of ID for the first time, describes Freud‘s theory of unconscious and applies the theory to explain dreams and then extends to psychology to explain the appearance of unconscious in dreams. When reading books from Jung, I realized that he was not against Freud as people said. Instead he developed and amended Freud’s theories. For example, he compared his views with those of Freud in his book Analytical Psychology and Interpretation of Dreams.
The greatest contribution from Freud includes the discovery of ID, ego and superego, the discovery of the driving force behind of human development – libido as well as psychological treatments like free association, explanation of dreams, early experience and Empathic therapy. Jung began his research on the basis of Freud. He proposed that human psychological driving force is related with subconscious and prototype and human psychological structure is irrelevant with the collective unconscious. He contributed psychological treatments like prototype and collective unconscious, psychology types, positive imagination and the analysis of dreams.
Neither of them followed the rules of psychology and psychological treatments. Instead they obeyed the rules of living lives and listened to the natural expression of visitors. For example, The Interpretation of Dreams contains many real examples. So we can easily read it. I want to find out the reasons of my dreams and their relationships with reality and then find better ways to create my works.
Yin Xiuzhen is from China. In her recent work named “Xing Si” , she hung the 500 shoes she collected each reflecting their own stories. The shoes are as slim and soft as growing bodies. The soft material becomes characters of beings and they become active in her work. In the exhibiting area of her work, silence is combined with upset feelings; cruelty is combined with beauty and the collected sub-conscience is embedded. Under each hung long leg, there is a shoe collected from citizens in Ningxia Province. All the shoes are old and legendary. They may be the most common, plain-looking and forgettable things but they bear the bodies. The worn shoes carries different experience, memory, traces and aesthetics. They are not only “common necessities” but also “recognized necessities”. The artist makes the collective experience an important factor and give the abandoned shoes new abilities. At the same time, the artist uses the most immediate matching, posting the stories of the shoes written by the voluntary original owners.Her work gave me a greater understanding of this new medium – handmade fabrics, give content with the use of texture, colour, size and space. Her work also highlighted a conflict between fabrics and other materials which is important when considering “content and form”.
If we look back from the current works of the artist, we can find that she has been keen on collecting for 3 to four year and she displayed a set of artworks which ranged from private collections and public collection. I think this is a process extending the focus from personal life to public life and setting up the relationship between individual experience and the age. As the comments from Gregor Jansen, “Yin Xiuzhen’s works come from her own view, her peculiar insight into history and personal life experience. You can have a special feeling – which involves you into the process of globalization instead of being carried around by it.”
Louise Bourgeois is a French artist who has been performing actively in New York for several years. Anxiety and unease in her childhood have long been affecting her artworks. Her works are emotionally strong and powerful. They mainly concentrate on relationships between people and the texture, style and patterns are various. She explores thoroughly her source of inspiration and equally the materials she chose to express this. The interview explained she came to believe that 2D paintings could not completely express the deep emotions in her heart, so she turned to sculpture. This encouraged me to explore sculpture and I learnt a lot from her 3D artworks. For example, in my work “gifts of early death”, I used wool to represent the obscurity of dreams, memories and imagination. I tried to give these a story and to give them a sense of reality and permanence through my 3D work.
I have to say that if the artwork did not combine “individual self” and “social self” and connect personal experienc3e and social emotions, that would be pale and simple. Bourgeois’s work extends from the relationship with personal experience, relatives and partners and reflects human beings’ general feelings. Among most of her works, I appreciate “Henriette” most, which was displayed in 1985. The name and sculpt of the work originates from her sister. The upper half is the full upper body while the lower half is the slim and acute iron artificial legs, showing a sharp contrast, telling that art is the extension of life. The work “Arch of Hysteria”, combines the twisted mode, human body model and fiber suspension together. The umbilical stalk like steel wire stretches out the navel, connecting the male body which originates from her assistance Jerry Gorovoy. The headless body twists into a ring and the copper surface reflects human profiles. The pain and stress are unexplainable, making people refuse such a situation subconsciously.