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Seminars on Sun Xun's Works


Time:pm 3:30 Mar.7th 2009
Place:ShanghART Beijing
Theme:Seminas on Sun Xun's Works

Attendees:(in no particular order)Sun Xun,Shi Qing,Wang Paopao,Li Yujie,Nannan,Hu Zhaocai,Lu Yinghua,Zuo Keke,He Xiao,Zhao Yao,Sun Ning,Yu Ji,Chen Wei,Yuan Xiaoying,Zhang Wenjia,Jiang Hao,Liu Jing,one female artist and two French artists

Moderator:Wen Jia

一、Sun Xun,showing slides and pictures and then taking a brief introduction

1.Platform China   Coal Spell

The muse of this work is the old version of 5 yuan RMB,of which the reverse design is my birthplace——Fu Xin,Liao Ning Province.A big coalmine is in the middle of the RMB.It is the biggest open-cast coalmine in Asia of its time.During the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea,the economies of Fu Xin is second only to Shen Yang.But now the city is in decline.When i come back hometown and see those coalmines and local situations,i really feel surprised.My feelings toward hometown have changed since i was a little boy.

Before the work was executed,i purposely visited hometown for an investigation.I took a lot of photos of local people and chatted with them about some stories from old days till now.After this visit,i summed up my feelings and decided what will be presented in my work.

At the last moment,i add some physical objects into my work. It causes somebody think my work is an animation installation,while i don't think so.All these physical objects are served for my animation,in a strict way,it is not an installation but an animation live.I don't think only several lamps can be thought as an installation.

In the distance a tunnel on the wall is combined with a real tunnel on the ground which is covered with coals.Safety lights are hanging on the top of the ceiling and at the end of the room there opened a spotlight.Coal Spell is finished in this room and is showed as an animation film in the yard of Platform China.

2.HAMMER Gallery    New China

This is a live project in Los Angeles Vault Gallery held in 2008.On the first day,i demand that the upper part of all walls should be painted in black color and the lower part still in white.Though Vault Gallery allow me a month to work in there but indeed i only have 24 days to finish my work.Only laying floors costs one week time.

Despite the paintings on walls in Platform China,all the paintings on walls are erased after exhibitions' ending.Someone has asked me whether i mean to protest the market system by doing so?I say i don't have this motive.What i care is to make exhibitions better.When exhibitions end,all that paintings are erased without any purposes.

This is the final scene.All spotlights have been installed.The finished animation film is played in the TV at the centre of the exhibition hall.I puposely pick a 1980 TV which shares the same age with me.It looks beautiful in the exhibiton but the display is so bad.Without any other means,we have to borrow another TV from the Vault Gallery.But the borrowed one looks incongruous in this exhibition.So i make a new shell of the TV and then i draw one more TV on this shell to make this exhibition unified.

3.University of Essex Gallery    People's Republic of Zoo

This is a live poject in University of Essex Gallery in Colcheste London at the begining of 2009.We are permitted 5 weeks to finish my work in their gallery. My drafts finished in China are exhibited here as well.The main materials of this work is ink.I like creating now challenges for myself when coming into new works.Because new challenges can bring new pressures and let me feel excited.I will try many different materials to finish my work.

In the last 2 weeks,we finally get the printer and scanner so that the previous work can move on again.The live situation will effect the original plan and we have to change our lens design,even the whole plan will be changed.But the live variability allows us to enjoy more interesting things.That is to say, our original plan is hard to realize.What really decides our live project is the objective situation.So we have to come up with new methods to solve unexpected problems.Come back to this project,we have to draw on my paper firstly and then use the digital devices to make them out.In the first place,i plan to use ink to paint on the walls instead of the acrylic paints.While when i arrive in the Gallery i only find the paint they provided is not the normal one which is non-absorbent. Finally,we have to change our panit.

These paper cuts are dozens of mouses and birds.They are pasted on walls combining with other paintings.As for the rest drafts and frames in animation,i make them into light boxes.I draw on rice paper and combine it with paper cuts.This paper edges are burned.

4.Creative Process   21G

21G is a length animation film what π studio is doing,which expected to take more than 30 minutes.We have been working on this animation for 3 years and it isn't finished yet.Optimistically,it will be finished this year.No matter for ideas or animation making,this work takes lots of time and the making process needs more intensiveness.Now we are playing the shooting scripts in the scenario design,which are the same with the final version.This work contains two parts.One is an animation and the other 50 pieces of paintings.

5.Platform China    Amateur World

The main way of making animations is to use a lot of layers.For instance,a single scene needs many pictures in different layers.Because the images need to move in a line.A men,a giraffe,a train,the smoke and the clouds are drawn by different members of my studio.When these images move together,we get a piece of original painting.Through the use of replicating,every men is singled out and then combined together.At last,we see the animation effects.

These are the photos from the exihibition.Projection is not the only way to present animations.Frames of animations are exhibited too.Because animations are the centre of the exhibition.All the works revolve around our animations.


Wen Jia:Sun Xun tells us many details,including specific projects,creative process,etc.While project in Platform China is the biggest one.Firstly,let Sun Ning talk with Sun Xun about the feelings towards their cooperation.

Sun Ning:From Sun Xun begins his work on the scene,it takes about 2 months to finish.In fact,the time on our schedule is less than 2 months.Before this cooperative project,i know Sun Xun early and very like his works.So we invite him to do his project in our gallery.

We had watched a video show in Yellow Box together.For Sun,Yellow Box is an attempt.And for Platform China,it is a relatively complete process since the accomplishment of our originality.For sure,it is also an attempt for us and we'd like to do this project,because we specially like Sun Xun's works.And we trust Sun Xun as an artist will finish the project well.At the begining of this project,we all firmly believe that this project will succeed.

Sun Xun:It's indeed an adventurous process.

Sun Ning:Yes,but we believe ourselves all along that we can do this project well.Because Sun has this ability to control this project.Maybe before he does this project,a general idea has already been in his mind and the idea is improved in working.I think this project is very good.The whole works of Sun are in the same world,in the same system,in my views.So we cannot only see one work of Sun or we cannot only see one side of his works.I believe,in the future,his works will become better and deeper.

Sun Xun:Thanks.It will realize someday.Since i left school in 2005,i have finished one phase of work.Of course i will continue my work because it's still not complete.

Sun Ning:Actually,most touching to me is this qualities of Sun.Based on this confidence,we can feel his abilities are spilling out rather than releasing themselves.

Sun Xun:Thanks.

Wen Jia:Sun Ning gives a high evaluation on Sun Xun.Before this discussion,Lu Yinghua takes a careful look at Sun Xun's works.Then,i wonder,what's your opinion towards his works after listening to Sun's introduction?

Lu Yinghua:I only watched Sun Xun's animation Requiem in Oslo,so i don't get a solid understanding of his whole works.While today is a good chance to know his works and Sun himself.Wen Jia told me you graduated from Printmaking Department.Could you tell us how do you switch to do animations,including these drawings on walls?In addition,i find many particular sections of your animations are interesting.There are many details in them,especially in some big live projects like this.Through we get a general idea of your works but we don't take a deep understanding into them.Could you pick some details to explain your works?Because the elements used in your animations are some similar ones like loudspeakers.And you often mention historical vocabularies and doubts on truth.This is one direction of your works.So i wonder where does your language come from and how will you handle these details.Could you take some examples for us?

Sun Xun:Yes.First,in regard to printmaking,i graduated from the high school of China Academy of Fine Arts.So i have a general undestanding of most China Academies of Fine Arts.At that time,printmaking department is the most open department.So i applied for it.The teachers in printmaking department are very nice.They don't force us to do works but respect our ideas.My work in the graduation exhibition is animation.I more like the freedom in the printmaking department.

Lu Yinghua:So it is the openness that effects you to study in the printmaking department.

Sun Xun:Yes.

Lu Yinghua:Well,let's take a more profound discussion of your works in Platform China.

Sun Xun:Alright.i will introduce my works when playing the slides.

Magicians frequentsly appear in my animations.Why do i choose magicians as the image in my works?Because magicians attract me very deeply.And the spy interests me very much too but now i don't think well how to present this role.In the world of my animations,magicians have unique identities---legal liars.Anyone among us if making lies will be limited by moralities and condemned.While magicians will not be punished,whose identities are clear and obscure.Magicians' identities fall in between artists and other people.For whole communities,magicians have their tentacles.Artists also have their tentacles.It has been flowed right through Leonardo Da Vinci.My definition of artists is that artists are the tentacles of the people.In some extend,it is artists that decide the direction of our development.And as for that,i most admire Leonardo Da Vinci among renaissance heroes.I think a artist not only draw pictures but also think in some certain states.This is the reason why i like Da Vinci the most.He is the tentacle of the people.What he did at that time helps us do some great things.

Magicians in our world also play a similar role,mabe not tentacles but a bit alike......such as the dike.When we build a dike we won't shut off all the exports in order to release the water.So it is with people:our social life is restricted.We have to find our own release methods.For example,cinemas and theatres are the vent to our feelings,like the discharge hole.Magicians are these people who are the legal liars.They can escape from different limits and doing magic is their profession.Because magic is lie,on some level.In this condition,an absurd thing happens:We are willing to pay for lies in theatres.I think it is an very interesting thing.We all know what we see is lie.But why we still come to see them in theatres?Because we need to release.Where is the source of this need?I think it comes from our anxieties.We need different architectures,such as squares and monuments.We have time,Greenwich Mean Time.All we do is to build our own existence.We need a frame of reference.The frame of reference should be valid of the public,that is to say,eveyone should agree with it.Then the power comes out but we each have limits.This is interesting.In order to define ourselves,Chinese people,we occupy a history of  five thousand yeas and we build many museums full of things like mad.For sure,we also find some counterfeits in museums.When we define the existence of ourselves,the  frame of refference becomes an authority.So who enact this authority?It is the powerful people that enact the authority.While this power also has a boundary.There are contradictions between different countries and parties.

Many people say there are lots of potics in my works.While what i care is not the politics.Because politics and histories share a brother relationship,so i have to focus on it.In fact,what i care is the truth.When we analyse step by step,something becomes substantial,then we continue to study the languages in it.I am more interested in these languages.For example,in my work in Platform China,a gun is on a chair.This is a Tokareva gun,a contemporary of the USA gun.US-Soviet Cold War reflected in guns distinctly.When US invented a new style gun,Soviet invented another new one immediately.For instance,AK47 is famouse as we all know,and Tokareva gun is famouse too.When you draw a AK47,people will figure out its meaning right away.What i use here is the Tokareva gun,which may prove that different people have different structures of knowledge and living experiences.Then people may read my work in misunderstandings.So i think this phenomenon are reasonable and i admit these misunderstaninds.But why?Because my whole works are trying to build a frame and my creative thoughts are different.When someone builds a house,he or she may paint the walls first or build a foundation first.The walls are painted beautiful and people can understand or appreciate them.But i may choose steel,concete and wood to build a frame and if without the walls,my works won't be beautiful.This is what i am doing now.Actually,it takes no long time to do this work.I graduated in 2005 and until the beginning of 2009,it is the forth year for work.

All i have mentioned above is the thoughts in my graduation thesis,which focuses on histories,time and the social order.At that time,i didn't know the combination of these three concepts is utopia,which i later knew in books.Now to talk about utopia may show a more clear thinking.What i pursue are the different frames of refference to define our existence.I persist in doubting these frames.Because frames of refference also make up our histories.When i repeatly doubt these frames,another system is also been built.I think the new system is also very absurd,no better than the real ones.This system works for me while in other's eyes it may be a farce.Between the existing histories and the real ones,i think the system i invented is parallel to the real histories.It may be more fair to say i am trying to invent another "history".

As an artist,i think my working method is very important for building a system.If i don't construct an effective system,all my works will be useless.Because i never think it important to judge a work on its sensual pleasure.If i paint a Mona Lisa,i don't think it effective for me.What i want is the effectiveness no matter the works are ugly or bad.

So what is the effective system?What is the effectiveness?And what constitutes this effective system?

I can feel a clear direction of my present works.If cartoons abruptly appear in my works,i think this work is non-effective.Because a totally different standing is adopoted.If i suddenly pay close attention to very surface things in the society,such as drawing a very popular bag,i think people can feel that my standing point has totally changed.Even if i draw a very good catoon which is set in my works,i also think it non-effective.Although it is beautiful but i refuse to accept it in my works.

If you ask me what the effectiveness is,what is effective,i have to say i am figuring out the answers too.I do not entirely know the destination of my works.It just likes when you close your eyes you can feel light ahead but you don't know the exact direction of the light.

He Xiao:After watching your works,i think the tones you used have no direct relations with your worldview and your past experiences.Because except the black,white,grey and little red,we can see fewer other colors in your works.

Sun Xun:It is the features of work that decide the choosing of black and white color.I also like other colors but they take more time and expenses to finish works.For my studio,this is a great pressure.My color work is good.If given one year and a space to do my works,i absolutely will do color works.But in general,exhibitions won't permit that long time for working,so i have to choose the black and white colors.If i do a live project instead an animation,i also will consider color works.Because i really like colors.

He Xiao:Will these dark tunes make a misunderstanding?

Sun Xun:I think temporary misunderstanings have no problem. Because my way of creating is long.

He Xiao:Do you think the effectiveness or building the effectiveness will influence your future works?Or any supporting effections?

Sun Xun:I think it will aid me.An effective system can help me control the direction of my works which won't be limited in a repeated world.I try to avoid repeating in every level of my works,including the tools i used.I attempt to change something. If i build a big house first,then i can do anything in it.If the house is small,only i can do is to squat.

Yuan Xiaoying:Can i understand it in this way that the system you are using bases on signs?No matter what the media is,your expressive way is the signs.

Yuan Xiaoying:A work may look no classical,no beautiful,no pleasures,but it can stimulate our vision.It may not reflect present social themes or introspections or even totally lose logic. It purely has meanings in aesthetics or visions.Do you think this kind of works is meaningful to you?

Sun Xun:Firsly,i think the effectiveness only works for me.Because if we want to talk about this issue,we have to control something.It is unnecessary to attack anything or interfere anyone.If i am a designer,i think this pure aesthetics is good while i won't accept it as an artist.

For example,when you draw something or study a vision theme,i think it is the technology,in the context of my works.I think we cannot be so fascinated with technologies.They may hurt us some day.During my 8 years in China Academy of Fine Arts,i was graduated in the college system and i am good at technologies.I got A in all professional courses,like sketches and colors.But in the end,i give up them,because i don't believe them.They may be meaningful in technologies or expressions but for the essence of art i can only use them.They are the tools.From spiritual aspect,their values are limited.I cannot allow myself to accept this.But i respect other people's choices.

Sun Ning:But i think your works depend on artistic languages very much,such as your drawing skills.If you cannot draw well,your works will has no attraction.

Sun Xun:So it is only important in technological level.Before deciding what is important to draw,you have to get good drawing skills.If you don't get good skills,you may fail when you want to express something.So technologies or skills are important.But when you grasp these skills,what you should think is above the technologies.

Sun Ning:I think,in Yuan Xiaoying's words,you are exploring an art language.You make exploration in every work,but you don't repeat and also in the art itself.

Yuan Xiaoying:In fact,my question is not aiming at deny your study.Let me say another more clear example.An artist choose an art language and a art media to create something,no matter he or she paint in inks or oils.Some day the artist may find an art language suddenly,just like your animations.He or she thinks this language is more suitable.Because what tools or expressive way you adopt,medias are more effective than the ones before,which can help you extend your works.In this condition,you choose another media naturally.If we choose digital devices to paint,we are not using painting brushes but pixels.For instance,a clound must be different in pixels,inks and oils.If an artist gives up traditional media and materials to present his or her works and then begins to use new medias,materials and languages,do you think this is valuable for you?

Sun Xun:I think i may not talk clear just now.I think it is valuable.In an old saying,an artist hoping to do fine work must first sharpen his tools.Tools are forever important but what we want in the end are not the tools.It is a dangerous thing to treat tools as purposes.So we have to clear the relations first.Because we indeed meet this kind of works.When we draw,we may feel crazy and cannot get out of the drawing skills,like drawing a sketch.If you don't pay a whole look of your sketch you may get stuck in details.In the same way,when i am drawing i will think the relations between things,which is exactly i am doing.I think this is a process.Everything in it is important.We just talk them in different levels.

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