How would you describe the recent work you are working on?
I work with cinematic material right now, treating them as raw material and continue to rework with them. Although those movie materials I am using were produced rigorously, I find there are still loads of possibilities to interpret them differently. Another angle is another experience. It is not necessary for me to restore original narration but manipulate the control of all those materials like for example the permutation, rhythm of them, through which new narration and experience can be brought out.
How did you become interested in the cinematic language?
The history of the language of cinema started with the very first cut. I have been quite interested in cut-up techniques, like for example, French Surrealists' game of Exquisite Corpse, Tristan Tzara's cut-up poems, William S. Burroughs's and Brion Gysin's fold-in technique, etc. They were mainly used in text literacy and later on extended to video making. Although there are more or less unpredictable randomness in cut-ups, what is also important for me is the meaning making with visual materials. The unpredictable can be turned into suspense, and the strong suggestive possibility is right what I seek for in the cinematic materials.
The films you are working with as material can all be characterized as closed systems. However by cutting them up and introducing them into a database you are playing with their delimitations and confines. What made you choose to experiment with them as opposed to user-generated material?
I understand by closed system you mean the director's choice of moving image sequences, the final result. But the film rests on a database upon which choices can be made. I read an article from writer, Daniel Coffeen, in which he states "a film is the product of a selection from different shots, hours of dailies and coverage – the film rests on a database." As he told the film we end up seeing is only one possibility, cut it again and there's a different movie. Therefore it is not hard to imagine a film has the potential to be treated as raw material. It is open-ended. The database of it here is autonomous. The footages are related to themselves in one or other way, which makes the permutation more exciting. So I think their "delimitations and confines" can be turned into potential and possibility. As for user-generated materials, I don't consider them as opposed to films. UGC contains quite complex media form like blogs, wikis, forums, posts, chats, tweets, and also video, audio you name it. It is a bit distracted for me to start with. I work through two ways with film material - the cinematic language (the movement of camera, the transition of spaces) and the script (the subtitle). I found it quite interesting that I can provide alternative ways of watching. There is no real or fiction, it's all about how to express, therefore to make spectators to think about their experiences differ by different means of expression even with the same materials.
In your work the key element seems to be interaction with the audience. At one point you mentioned the permutational quality of the search function, how do you see this in connection with the affective experience?
The work I am working on right now is simply a chat-pot like Eliza which uses films as its database. I want to invite people go into a dialogue through my work with different characters in films. In this work I hand out the permutation to participants, they can lead the dialogue meanwhile cut and reassemble them. It is a bit different than searching. Since in all search functions, users have already expected results but here spectators cannot predict what the character will respond. Only a vague topic bouncing back and forth. But it is the vague topic provides suspense, which I believe make people attentive and even affective. Although it is not all my goal to achieve affective experience with this piece but indeed there were stories that human being emotionally engaged with artificial intelligence, and the same for Eliza, It was sometimes so convincing that there are many anecdotes about people becoming very emotionally caught up in dealing with doctor Eliza.
You make a few references to cut up techniques and other methods of generating randomness, including code. What is the role of the algorithm in your work?
I mentioned some artistic method of cut-ups, and indeed there are more or less unpredictable randomness, algorithm as well. But it is not randomness that they aim to create. On the contrary, they work with rules and conditions, especially algorithm which is not neutral. It works in such manner to specify the results. This is the manner that I look for and use to make meaning out of it.
What kind of environment would you like your works to be shown in?
I considered to make video installations and browser based works. For installations, the environment won't be any cinemas where audiences expect to watch stories but a space that spectators can take time to look at different screens maybe on different walls. And it is also a dark space in oder to make people immerse in and focus on moving images.
How do you imagine your work to be developed in the future?
Cinematic language combined with database watching would be my main focus, meanwhile interaction plays an important role in my work, which requires people mentally and physically involve in. It is possible that I may use my own material instead of films and with all the sources I would like to present my way of seeing and at the same time to bring suspense, a mixed feeling for the spectators.
transcription of interview
interviewer: Cristina; interviewee: Yuzhen
- What are you working on now /or What have you been working on?
I was working mainly on appropriation of existed films but I am more looking on how I can use those already existed content to create my own narration in a way. In general, I think what I am looking on it is the permutation that I can provide the spectators a way to interpret the piece in a different way.
- How did you become interested in the cinematic language?
Actually I would not say it is the cinematic language because I started with looking at cut-up techniques. They were at that time text based. And at pervious time, I didn't take the movement of camera or the spacial elements in account. It was more about how different combination can create new narration. Latter on, I made the video work with reversed shots, which then makes me take look on the spacial movement within the film I chose. With it I try to make audiences attentively involve.
- Would you say your works are playing with narrative?
It's not necessarily like a fiction film, it's more about the looping and reversing the elements.
- The films you are working with as material can all be characterised as closed systems. However by cutting them up and introducing them into a database you are playing with their delimitations and confines. What made you choose to experiment with them as opposed to user-generated material?
So far with my work I think the users or the audiences haven't put much efforts inside my work. I mentioned that I am also interested in database-watching, but I haven't done so much with pervious works. (I was confused how should I redirect the question, because I thought user-generated material is not the case in my pervious work and it is not opposed to ready-made materials. But it is a really good question to make me think about more around)
- Yea you didn't take user-generated material, it's precise work, and you reframe it...
It's more about control. I don't really dealing with the content itself but the relationship/interrelationship between each of them.
- the key element in your work seems to be the interaction with audiences. But at one point you mentioned the permutation, the query/ search function on your page. How do you consider it as affective experience. (re: you mentioned the search function ... contradictory elements)
You mean the search function and the affective experience. I don't consider they are contradictory at all. We have them at the same time, so we take it so granted like the search engine. It's because people already get used to it by searching while experience.(When I transcript it I found out that I didn't really get the question at that time) The content doesn't exist before we search it.
But it's not really searching in my case. It's he conversation in my hybrid movie, or dialog. Those words/texts spectators put in is not used really searching the clips but to go into a dialogue and using film to visualise it.
- You make a few references to cut up techniques and other methods of generating randomness, including code. What is the role of the algorithm in your work?
I actually try to minimise the randomness, by minimising I try to make it accurate. I really try to generate precise content as feedback.
- What kind of environment would you like your works to be shown in?
I want to make browser-based works as well as videos displaying specially but a bit different like screening films.
- How do you imagine your work to be developed in the future?
For one hand, I may look at the video works after 1945, when the avant-gard films being sprung up. How artist can appropriate those existed content, but at the same time avoid to commenting on original materials. Besides, I want people to take look on what is new there when I putting them together. And I am also fascinated by long shots in the movies.(well here is cinematic language again...)
-How would you describe your work?
-The films you are working with as material can all be characterised as closed systems. However by cutting them up and introducing them into a database you are playing with their delimitations and confines. What made you choose to experiment with them as opposed to user-generated material?
-How did you become interested in the cinematic language?
-In your work the key element seems to be interaction with the audience. At one point you mentioned the permutational quality of the search function, how do you see this in connection with the affective experience?
-You make a few references to cut up techniques and other methods of generating randomness, including code. What is the role of the algorithm in your work?
-What kind of environment would you like your works to be shown in?
-What research strands would you like to follow in the future?
very first interview about photobook project
c: You choose a film to go for your final piece, why you specifically choose the Tenant?
Y: The experience of the film is like that you go into a circulation. We see through the film, the main character gradually changed his behaviours acting like the previous tenant. The life he has is transposed from another person. It's quite mysterious. Besides, I watched William Burroughs's cut-up film in which characters transpose sentences from one to the other. That's what inspired me and also remind me about Roman Polanski's The Tenant.
c: Is this the connection between your digital book and physical book? (William Burroughs' work)
Y: For the content yes, more because of his cut-up technique. Especially in digital age with networks, people perceive more fragments and build their own connection instead of seeing the whole story/ ground narrarion. In my digital book and physical book, I am using a strategy to juxtapose cut-ups letting the spectators to make connection by themselves.
c: Would you like the audiences will be interact with the piece?
Y: for the digital one, users can scroll up and down and already scan a bit the clips. I really like people to engage with the work instead of sitting still. For the physical book, readers can flip around. Because of the different size of the pages, sometimes the text can be read first, at other times, images can be watched first. So spectators are expected to build their own imagination through this work.
c: How would you imagine your piece being exhibited. Or would you rather exhibit it online.
Y: If it can be shown in a space, then I would like to turn it into an installation.
C: What is the main message of the piece?
Y: People are turn out to be multitasking nowadays, we go from one video to another and at the same time also do something else. I try to find a way to make people attentive, and perhaps emotionally engage in or at least spend more time. I try to see how I can arrange the database to provide interface for people to engage in.
C: Would you like to expand this project in the future
Y: I started to work with different films. To break down different story lines, form my own structure for all the materials.