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“Experience and experimentation are a mutually cumulative co-constructive relationship” Exclusive interview with Taiwanese visual artist AKA CHANG | Hypebeast


Zhang Fangyu AKA CHANG is a Taiwanese visual artist. He has rich experience and started in VJ culture since his student days. In addition to founding the online magazine “Zuirens”, he has also devoted himself to the creation of new media and luminous media in the past ten years, including Chinese pop music. His works can be seen including the Golden Melody Awards.

Although AKA CHANG has become a leader in the industry and is deeply loved by the commercial market, what is interesting is that he has never given up artistic creation, and he is also quite willing to cooperate and experiment with the younger generation. In 2019, he cooperated with the Taiwanese avant-garde organization PURE G, and the cooperation has lasted four years. AKA CHANG said that he believes that cooperation with the next generation has the opportunity to create an unprecedented scene for the electronic music scene.

As the eel Festival came to a successful conclusion, we had a long chat with AKA CHANG about his personal creative career and his connection with the younger generation such as PURE G.

@nikku_ject & GMA

I’m really curious about what initially drove you to choose “light” as your main creative medium? Why does “light” fascinate you so much?

AKA CHANG:I started my career in visual arts in 2006. At that time, I organized a VJ team with my college classmates and founded the online magazine “Zuirens” to promote VJ culture. As time goes by and I grow older, the image styles I pay attention to become more and more minimalist. I realize that no matter how complex and gorgeous the image is, reduced to the minimum, it is actually just a light source. So I started trying to create visual creations using only points, lines and surfaces. During that period, I did a lot of business projects on Mapping Projection, which is also known as mapping projection in Taiwan. At that time, I was thinking that the relationship between the projection screen and the imaging medium is no longer limited to the scope of the plane. And the ratio is no longer just the traditional rectangle with the ratio of 4:3 or 16:9. And when the performance of the projected light source on the imaging surface is almost controlled at will, then what other possibilities are there for expressing, controlling, and creating the state of the space between the light source and the imaging surface?

So I started to try to use some high-power lamps, such as computer lights and lasers. Although they can’t project a complete image like a projector, they can leave a pure beam of light and light in the space under the conditions of smoke. The surface and structure formed.

Rather than being obsessed with light, in fact, what I present is vision when I go back to the original source, but the form is extremely simplified to only dots, lines and surfaces, and the energy is amplified into a visible and touchable solid light structure (Solid Light Structure).

My art at this stage represents a process of continued reduction.

Solid Light Calture Club [2023 NOV] (Shot by Ray Zhao iamyanzifans)

Different light has different textures, and after passing through different media, carriers, and structures, it will show ever-changing appearances. I believe that the accumulation of “experimentation” and “experience” is indispensable in the creative process. What do these two mean to you? Is “experimentation” a necessary process?

AKA CHANG:In my artistic practice, one of my goals is always to present something that no one has done or seen. And because there may be no precedents to refer to or follow, experimentation and testing are also part of my creative process. It has a certain proportion. Before an idea grows from scratch, it is usually based on past experience to set the possible direction of development. These experiences may be based on previous experiments or the context of existing works, and then further testing and collision are carried out. So experience and experimentation to me are like a mutually cumulative co-constructive relationship.

Sound also plays an important role in your work. How do you achieve harmony between the two?

AKA CHANG:In principle, I still approach the relationship between vision and sound from a “subtractive” perspective. If all the audio tracks in a sound are linked to a certain visual dynamic parameter, the listener will not be able to identify the relationship between the sound and the visual, and it will look confusing. I like to capture high-frequency sounds to correspond to visual dynamics.

Although in the field of audiovisual art, sound and vision have a certain degree of connected structural relationship, at the same time, I also consider keeping the two at a moderate parallel distance or even a slight state of deconstruction. Compared with various visual media or carriers, sound has the most direct and immediate impact on people, and it also has the powerful power to change people’s perceptions and emotions. So I often think about how to use sound to define the atmosphere of a work, especially when the vision is already very simple lines or contemporary light sources that seem cold and technological, how can we change the temperature perceived by people through sound? This is very interesting. Interesting and worth observing.

I really like your recent work “Ring” at the “Treasure Rock Light Festival”. Can you tell us more about this work?

AKA CHANG:Rings or circles have a special power for me. They are simple, pure, and endlessly repeated. The series of works “Ring” expresses the relationship established between a pure and strong light source, a simple dynamic, and a simple solid medium, and extends to the space and the people in it. The next stage of the work will be to give it another quadrant of movement and bring it into the theater space for interpretation.

Why do you say “Simplicity is sometimes willful”?

AKA CHANG:The new media programming tools and luminous media I use, such as computer lights, lasers, LEDs, projectors, etc., can achieve the fullest, richest and most dramatic effects, but I only use these There may be fewer people using these lamps in such extreme ways to operate one or two parameters of the tool to a very large or very small extent! After all, those things are not cheap. I think it is a kind of willfulness to use those expensive things to do something very slow and simple? But only by doing this can we show some very essential states! In a business environment, it is more difficult to convince the client to accept it, but in the art circle, there are more opportunities. I think I must thank everyone who is willing to believe in my willfulness and come to me for artistic creation.

No matter how much time passes, even if the creators grow old or pass away, great works will not be eliminated because of the change of times.

As you said before, as the creation time grows longer, the creator himself will naturally develop a line and gradually establish his own look. In your own subjective opinion, what kind of “look/style” attracts your attention?

AKA CHANG:What I will pay attention to are those creators who have inspired me in the past. Their recent trends or new things they have done, such as Ryoichi Kurokawa or Joanie Lemicier. There are also works that are close to my creative concept. When I encounter such works, I can’t help but want to feel more of its energy and spend more time with the works. For example, last year’s (2022) Venice Biennale Exhibiting Dumb Type’s works in the Japan Pavilion.

In addition, there may be other works created using the same media and tools as mine! After seeing the works of Tony Cragg in Europe and starting to cooperate with Yang Yingfeng Art Museum this year, I also found that I am very interested in modern sculpture. I would stop in front of those sculptures and admire the shapes and curved surfaces. People will use the timeline to understand the creative context of an artist. However, no matter how much time passes, even if the creator has aged or passed away, great works will not be eliminated due to the change of times. Some people can create immortal things! I’ve been feeling it lately.

Void Jungle 白霭林(Shot by Zoso Lai @zoso0402)

Three people and things that have had the greatest impact on your artistic career.

AKA CHANG:The finale of Alexander McQueen’s Spring/Summer 1999 show. Underworld’s live performance in Taipei in 2009. My work “Void Jungle” in 2016. Every spiritual experience I’ve had since I was thirty, and the birth of a boy when I was thirty-five.

Recently I was invited to participate in the eel Festival, which is also another collaboration with my old partner Pure G. Can you take this opportunity to share your relationship with Pure G?

AKA CHANG:2019 coincided with a transition period in my personal creative career. At that time, Xinping from Pure G contacted me on Instagram and proposed a collaboration invitation. I still remember that we made an appointment at a coffee shop near Shiji University to discuss possible approaches. That was their first event. To me, Pure G is a new generation in the underground music scene. Their thinking and methods of planning events are different from the Promoter I was once familiar with. Because of this, I believed that working with them would have the opportunity to create something new for this electronic music scene. A situation that has never happened before.

After Pipe’s first event, Pure G also launched a long-term cooperation with FINAL. During the three-year epidemic, cross-border exhibition exchanges were forced to be suspended, but it gave us the opportunity to experiment with a new idea at each event. That period was very special and quite hard, but it was really fun. eel Festival is a new chapter for Xinping and Yin Hao to realize their dreams, and it is also a continuation of their cooperation with Xu Jie. As I believed in them from the beginning, they could do something different, and I think they have established their own scene.

Shot by Ray Zhao iamyanzifans

Any new plans in the near future?

AKA CHANG:I have recently started a project for the “Laser Experiment Club”. The first experimental project is to collaborate with the descendants of two Taiwanese laser art pioneers, Yang Yingfeng and Yang Fengchen. They introduced lasers to Taiwan in the 1980s and started experiments. Creation. I want to continue this spirit and use contemporary digital technology programming tools to test the “Laser Mapping” technology, allowing laser light to mark the large stainless steel sculptures of two teachers, allowing light to flow on the metal surface; I also want to try two teachers The work process of “laser art printmaking” created 30 years ago, I hope that such cross-generational inheritance and cooperation will have the opportunity to grow new and different works.

The article is in Chinese

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