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Sun Xun, A Worshipper of Hand Drawing

Author: Shenzhen Special Zone Daily/Liang Ting Translator: Liu Yiwen 2012

Sun Xun

1980  Born in Fuxin,Liaoning Province,curently lives and works in Beijing,China
2005  Graduated from Print-making Department of China Academy of Fine Arts
2006  Established his own animation studio,Pi
2010  Granted Chinese Contemporary Art Awards (CCAA Best Young Atist)
2010  21G,hand-draw animation,entered Venice Film Festival
2012  Some Actions Which Haven't Been Defined yet in the Revolution,wood printing
          animation film,has been nominated by Belinale Shorts 2012 jury in 62nd Berlin  
          International Film Festival

Some Actions Which Haven' t Been Defined yet in the Revolution (hereinafter called Revolution) has been nominated by Belinale Shorts 2012 jury in 62nd Berlin International Film Festival.This is the frist time Chinese animation enters Berlin Intenational Film Festival.Actually, in 2010 21G entered Venice Film Festival as a debut of Chinese animation. Rarely in the history of Chinese animation has animation bringed by the same person once again into top three A-class international film festivals.

During Spring Festival, microblogs about Sun Xun's nomination have been reposted thousands of times.As soon as the Spring Festival ends, our reporter gets access to Sun Xun in Beijing through a phone interview. Let's reveal the stories behind Sun Xun's animation.

My Animation Works Are Not Products But Works of Art

Chinese animation once enjoyed a glorious history. Three Monks(三个和尚), Snipe-Clam Grapple(鹬蚌相争), Feelings of Mountains and Waters(山水情) and The Praying Mantis(螳螂捕蝉) were nominated by Berlin International Film Festival.But through the past 14 years we could see no Chinese animation in this festival. So this nomination of Sun Xun's wood printing animation is significant.

There are many people doing animations in China. Why Sun Xun's works appeal to us? Sun told me undoubtedly, "I don' t produce animations in a familiar pattern. My works are performed in the forms of animation but not the so-called cartoons. I am an artist, rather than a film director. I emphasise more on the things behind works and won' t limit myself in any forms.My attitude may just coincide with A-class international film festivals'subjects."

In the interview with Sun Xun, he stresses several times that he is an artist not just a film director.His own animation studio Pi has employed over 30 staff to assist his working.Sun's works will be selling by ShanghART gallery and only ShanghART gallery has the full-length version of his works. Then Sun will use the proceeds from works sale to pay his staff. Different from publicising works in television and connecting the link between upstream and downstream industry chains,Sun's works are operating in a totally marketing way which also adopted by the main contemporary artists in China.Other artists make paintings and sculptures while Sun draws pictures freehand, frame by frame.

That twice entering of A-class intenational film festivals makes Sun Xun come into the public eye.In fact,since 2006 Sun has began participating in several international film festivals,almost 100 ones until now.But Sun keeps a very low profile other than professional film makers.He said he look film festivals as exhibitions in a participating vision.Nominations and rewards don't make difference for him.He regards himself an artist and the ideal place for his works is the art gallery.

Different Animations Consisit of the Same Idea

Revolution sounds big. Sun Xun said this name came from a paly written by himself in college days.There is no exact plots in it only emotional expression.Sun said, "people always understand revolution in habitual mind while my thinking is not like that.The content of revolution nowadays has been already beyond guns. For example,Occupy Wall Street is a kind of revolution and the improvement in productivity represents the industrial revolution. The extension of revolution has been significantly broadened. This animation film is an irony to the reality which has nothing to do with political revolution."

Animation of Sun Xun specializes in social and artistic perspectives. Histories, politics and natural creatures in the world are performed vividly in Sun' s works which is full of magic realism. Not only the dark suppression, but almost every elements in his animation reflect symbols and metaphors.This is totally different from that of other Chinese post-80s artists. The images of magician and mosquito implicate Sun's observation of the real world.He said, "Magician is the only legal liar. Magic is the only lie which can escape from moral condemnation. Mosquitoes spread diseases and mutates the viruses which bring us unexpected disasters. But we don' t know what is happening."

The carrier of Sun's animation come with new surprises every-time. Revolution is a wood printing animation.Sun and his studio staff spent one and a half years carving thousands of wooden boards.Finally, they made every frame move in a line,coming into a less than 13-minute film.Actually, every animation of Sun Xun adopts different artistic carriers.For Example,scenes in 21G have their own original sketches respectively.And every frame of Shock of Time is drawn on newspapers, totally thousands of which are costed.Sun said, "I think anything can be made into animation, because animation itself is not important. If i really treat animation as animation, my creation will be very uninteresting."

Worship For Hand-drawn Animation

Many artists adopt animation as their artistic carriers. But most of them often rely on new medias, such as motion sensing technology and three-dimensional looking.While Sun Xun opposites to the prevailing trend of three-dimensional animations.His works are all made freehand, frame by frame. This is quite a bit confusing for a lot of people.

In Sun' s views,this way of working in animation is perfectly normal. Drawing has become a way for him, a 8-years educated person in Academy of Fine Arts,to express his mind." As for the pursuit of art, I am a stubborn artist. If I cannot handle a tool freely, I will never use it to create.For instance, unless I can create computer software and programming in other words, I can change any details of the tool, I won't use it.Even I have to use it, I will use it with firm restraint. So basing on my existing knowledges,hand drawing is the best choice." Sun said.

No matter which media can help us, the principle of animation is really primitive.Sun said, "In the simplest words, if you can make every drawing move in your way, then you make an animation. From a technical aspect,you may perfect details in movements and control well in paces. All that remains is just manual labor, no more than the variation of materials and the exploration of space."

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