Anko Chang Artist Statement

Comment

Anko Chang Artist Statement

Statement of Purpose: Describe your goals and objectives for graduate investigation and study.

I must confess to a murder. Contemporary art is on life support and I plan to pull the plug. Now, during the fourth industrial revolution, a time of immersive digital experiences, and AI blurring of lines between virtual and real, parallel to a time of increasing global disaster, art must move beyond unattainable luxury or public awareness. Artists like Sarah Oppenheimer investigating topics such as transhumanism in her workshop, The Sensitive Machine, confirms my hypothesis: art can/should transcend visual interpretation.

Screen Shot 2018-12-23 at 6.35.13 PM.png

A diverse background between East and West, new and old gave me at first a yearning for self discovery, and then a purpose for social activism. I see my artworks as “inanimate” experiences of social/political advocacy discussing themes of belief. Advancements of technologies have made many traditional art media anachronistic in this era; I am a painter in a time where visual creation may soon be outdated. Under this threat, I am strongly influenced by the evolution of society and the casualties of obsolescence.

From my older pieces, like DeFlower, to my recent works, like String Theory, I bring viewers to pseudo-psychedelic states of self-judgement and encourage them to question their own belief systems. This is also why I created the series In Money We Trust, whilst portraying art as a religion. Just as we shifted our currency from gold to fiat to credit, with the advent of cryptocurrency and virtual reality, how reliable is the trust we place in our own inner value systems?

However discussing social-political climates through critically relevant issues may no longer satisfy my intentions. I want to find out what is next for artists: what can our work do, and what is our role in this postmillennial, metamodernist society? During graduate study, I hope to complete investigations directed to answer these questions through painting. Despite being a multidisciplinary artist, I choose to continue my research through painting because, from caves to graffiti, the act of painting is still the most genuine, humanistic gesture and timeless form of art.

Two hypothesis of my own that may validate this belief and prepare art for “post-metamodernist” future: 1) If painting is to stay relevant to society beyond materiality and aesthetics, then it should blur the lines between thought and action in being a catalyst to fulfill functional aspects. 2) In order to have painting behave in three or four dimensions to impact society, it needs to disrupt the art industry by being accessible at all levels of culture without losing cohesion. Hence, it is through a theory focused practice, that I would best create these new ideas through old tools and methods of painting.

Now, after the death of art, we will be able to create and carry a new narrative.

Autobiographical Statement: Please describe what influenced your development as an artist.

There is never creation without destruction. Nothing can be new without something becoming old. In my path as an artist, I have destroyed myself with each reinvention. My early artworks have been representations of my own journey to self-discovery as a Taiwanese with an exclusively Western education. Despite growing up as in the countryside of Taiwan, I studied in an American School located in Kaohsiung, and then UCLA. I felt unable to fit in with true Eastern traditions.

I lived in a deconstructive state of contradiction and ambiguity. For example, in my work Divine Harmony, feng shui and Chinese ink painting style from Eastern culture is remixed with Western oil color onto canvases. Most of my works are deeply personal processes of humanity and cultures crossing over time. This kind of cross-examination further generates my remix of Chinese tradition by bringing concepts or materials.

After finding love, my views of identity were again undone. As I learned to navigate the complexities of creating a life with someone else, I examined topics of dualities and opposites. Consequently, I changed to further expand on social and political entities that delve with the ties between genders and taboos. Inspired by Joel-Peter Witkin, I developed a fondness for depicting vulgar concepts as something beautiful. From a distance, Divine Harmony creates a sense of comfort through the calm visualization of a Koi lotus pond, but discomfort upon closer inspection as the viewer discovers a penis and vagina chasing each other for eternity.

Not long ago, I found change and reinvention again in the unlikeliest of places. Working at Pittsburgh’s contemporary art museum and getting involved with the flourishing technological scene has instilled in me a new mission as an artist. Seeing bleeding edge concepts daily, I felt displaced in time, an anachronism. Exposed to a new way of life, I became a futurist with antique toolsets. I see art and fine design disrupted from being sovereign entities viewed or awed upon. In fact, I believe in a continuum with rapid technological advancements, the media that will go beyond the painter’s craft is nonetheless, technology. With social media and technological evolution, the world will quickly becoming a four dimensional experience.

During this time, my works investigate motifs of obsolescence. With such great strides in so-called progress that our society has made in recent years, what happens to those of us who become obsolete? In our struggles for creation, have we made ourselves the targets of destruction? Or worse, our values systems? In Return on Invested Capital, I portray the educational system as a bleak sewer. This is no exaggeration of reality. As technologies advance in this postmillennial era has made knowledge free, institutions grow further out of touch. Furthermore, hyperinflation has plagued degrees and skills. Is education itself facing extinction? As a system designed to create workers during the first industrial revolution, institutional practices for education lose relevance in this postindustrial age.

In 1996 Arthur Danto described the “end” of art; in becoming self-referential, art has no more directions in which to progress. He was convinced of this partly by Andy Warhol. In creating sculptures of Brillo boxes identical to the real thing, Warhol had aligned art with reality. In his creation, Warhol has also performed an act of destruction to the very definition of art. Likewise, this year Christie’s has made history by selling a work of art made by an artificial intelligence. Has creation itself also become obsolete? Will we as artists go the way of the dinosaur? Art has ended, yet again. The Art is dead, long live the Art.

The revival of art for this “post-metamodernist” period should step out of self-reflection or reflection and channel to objects from the spectrum of function follow form (not “form follow function”). Upon my research, I will build upon my reflections of obsolescence. I seek to explore what art and artists can be after the end of contemporary art. Then, after we have destroyed art, it can be time for us together to create it again.







Comment

String Theory

Comment

String Theory

String Theory

Oil on wood panel, Aurasma augmented reality platform
16 in x 12 in
December, 2018

At the heart of string theory is the thread of an idea that's run through physics for centuries, that at some fundamental level, all the different forces, particles, interactions and manifestations of reality are tied together as part of the same framework.
— Forbes article “What Every Layperson Should Know About String Theory”

Now at the beginning of the fourth industrial revolution, we have created technology such as artificial neural networks, machine learning, and artificial intelligence in order to do our bidding. To create these automations, these puppets to do our work and make our lives easier, we feed them our information and our data to give them knowledge to learn and grow. However, is this price too great?

In recent years, events such as Facebook’s experimentation on users’ emotions and the social media hacking of the 2016 election by Russia have shown us just how malleable our own memories and emotions can be. Our reality is not our own anymore. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, recently said that “our own information, from the everyday to the deeply personal, is being weaponized against us with military efficiency”; that these little bits of information collected from us is creating a world in which companies and their machines know us even better than we know ourselves.


Now we live in a world where data has become ammunition in a war against ourselves, from changing our decision and opinions to even changing our thoughts, and one day even performing a kind of mind control on us. As our information controls us, who is actually the puppet? The human or the machine?

Augmented Reality:

Comment

Initial Public Offering

Comment

Initial Public Offering

stock_web.jpg

Initial Public Offering

Artist blood, ink, glass, and metal on wood panel
18 x 24 in
December, 2018

As microchips become smaller and the lines between technology and humanity become blurred, are we truly exceptional, as artists? Will there come a day in which we must quantify our actions, our worth, and our very sense of self in order to survive in a data driven environment?

In this piece, I present our environment as a universe unto itself, with galaxies and orbits of ideologies, artists, collectives. It is flat because this is what we have always been, and will be, after the collapse of our current stage of technology. We, and our values, can perhaps be reduced to flat, cartesian projections of data points against a quantified, market driven world. However, one variable still stays organic: the concept of human will and self-worth, painted in blood on glass. It is the single variable that can never be truly mechanized, digitized, or quantified.

This quasi-infographic is tied with International Associated Art Index, a side project I am currently exploring. With technological disruptions to the market,  traditional business models are forced to transform to survive — including art markets such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s moving into internet business, or individual artists selling paintings through services such as Etsy without the support of traditional institutions. This painting is also a manifesto to take this new market structure even further through a digital transformation of art and artists alike, to become entities to be listed and traded as stocks for greater accessibility to the general public.


Comment

Return on Invested Capital

Comment

Return on Invested Capital

returnon_web.jpg

Return on Invested Capital

Oil on wood panel
33 3/4 x 30 in
November, 2018

This piece talks about the problem of education in the world today pertaining but not limited to art majors. Growing up in the so called “millennial” world, we are taught to believe education is everything. You study, you get a good grade, you get a good job.

Is that still the case?

Graduating from UCLA and looking for work, I realized a degree no longer guarantees a job. In fact, people around me seem to be a master’s / phd candidate. Volunteering at the Mattress Factory Museum, I realize many of my peers working as shop attendant pertains a masters degree. Yet there are people like Jack Mac, rejected by Harvard 10 times, becoming China’s richest person.

Yet education is so expensive. So many students graduate with these degrees, yet still cannot find work.

Comment

In Money We Trust: Creation

Comment

In Money We Trust: Creation

Davinci_web.jpg

In Money We Trust: Creation

Oil, acrylic, ink, and American currency on glass
14 1/2 x 11 in
October, 2018

In the course of human history, currency has shifted from precious metals to fiat (paper). This past century has seen a further shift from physical currency to systems of credit and debt. At its core, this intangible system is based all on our trust in each other. Now, money is not gold, but trust. However, trust can be manipulated. It can be made fiction. It can be distorted. Trust can be created just as it can become destroyed.

Art has told a parallel story to economy. Painting has never been without identifications of value and worth. Just as money only has value when it flows, paintings gain value when collected and resold. In many ways, art has been as much an intangible construct as economic systems.

At the beginning is creation, and at the end may not be destruction, but re-creation. As we have ventured into an era where art has become self referential, it may be appropriate to look into the past.

In ancient times, there have always been theories of creation, as well as debates regarding whether the Earth is round or flat. In modern day, it is generally accepted by science that the earth is round. However, a new theory has emerged that the universe is simply a two-dimensional hologram that we as human beings interpret as three dimension.

Therefore, I present this portraiture of Da Vinci by combining panels of glass to create a layered dimensioned anachronism from a time when art was not self-referential, but a facsimile of the world and its symbolic figures.

In pop art, works have acted almost as facsimiles by including symbols such as Andy Warhol’s silkscreens of Marilyn Monroe or Marcel Duchamp’s readymade of the Mona Lisa. These works have borrowed these symbols not only as a vehicle of expression, but as a giver of value. In many cases, the facsimile may obtain more value than the original.

Are there certain symbols in our cultural memory that automatically imbue value to their facsimiles? Does a reference to an old master accord worth into new works? Is there still value in being an original as opposed to a counterfeit?


Comment

In Money We Trust: Fiction

Comment

In Money We Trust: Fiction

jasper_john_web.jpg

In Money We Trust: Fiction

Oil, metal, currency, glass, and linen on wood
22 1/4 x 20 1/8 in
September, 2018

In the course of human history, currency has shifted from precious metals to fiat (paper). This past century has seen a further shift from physical currency to systems of credit and debt. At its core, this intangible system is based all on our trust in each other. Now, money is not gold, but trust. However, trust can be manipulated. It can be made fiction. It can be distorted. Trust can be created just as it can become destroyed.

Art has told a parallel story to economy. Painting has never been without identifications of value and worth. Just as money only has value when it flows, paintings gain value when collected and resold. In many ways, art has been as much an intangible construct as economic systems.

Fictions can be found in the space between creation and destruction.

When it comes to the fictions in the construct of art, Jasper Johns may be its symbol in the contemporary world. Through semiotic play of seen and unseen factors of life objects, Johns shows us that it is our human touch that imbues value to objects. In other words, it is through certain fictions that we create value.

Despite the rise of other powers like China, the US dollar is still believed to be the strongest and most valuable currency in the world. Painting, like paper currency, is nothing more than a symbol of worth. Without symbols of identification, money is simply inked cotton linen paper. As the creator of one of the most expensive paintings ever sold, Flag, which is also a symbol of patriotism, Jasper Johns is almost as a patron saint of belief and prayers in the name of value.

Without an artist’s name, or a demand for the work, a painting is no more than colors on a surface. Art may be a higher truth, but its value in the market is only fiction.


Comment

In Money We Trust: Destruction

Comment

In Money We Trust: Destruction

wool_web.jpg

In Money We Trust: Destruction
“Just Buy It Already”

Ink on paper, chrome plated plastic orb
25 x 38 in
August, 2018

In the course of human history, currency has shifted from precious metals to fiat (paper). This past century has seen a further shift from physical currency to systems of credit and debt. At its core, this intangible system is based all on our trust in each other. Now, money is not gold, but trust. However, trust can be manipulated. It can be made fiction. It can be distorted. Trust can be created just as it can become destroyed.

Art has told a parallel story to economy. Painting has never been without identifications of value and worth. Just as money only has value when it flows, paintings gain value when collected and resold. In many ways, art has been as much an intangible construct as economic systems.


The first piece created for In Money We Trust series, Just Buy it Already depicts Christopher Wool representing one aspect of the manipulation of trust. If we use currency as a measurement for value itself, Christopher Wool may be the most valuable artist, having sold one of the highest priced paintings by living artist in this contemporary world.

Creating an alternate universe for art, Metzinger’s command of formal principles of surface fragmentation and plane of shape led me to ponder on the reality of space. In it, I presented this piece as “du spherism” by reflecting the true flat world of a distorted and incomprehensible drawing, and making a reality through the puzzled globe. Only with this globe positioned in the certain position and imagination piecing together the puzzle can this world be represented coherence.

Like this illustration, we have become a society that gives meaning and definition to the absurd. Christopher Wool uses hand-drawn monospaced lettering to subvert commercial ideals by, as if given by guidelines to the border of a stencil. This idea of trying to make it look like Christopher Wool, yet still unlike one due to the spacing, I strongly fucked up this mimic up.

The piece also involves the audience taking out their phone and trying to inspect on the things reflections on the globe. Sadly, the more money you have to buy a better phone with a better camera, the more you can see. For example the words inscribed on the dollar bill: In Money we Trust.”



Comment

The Spectators

Comment

The Spectators

The Spectators

Oil on Canvas
4 ft x 5 ft
August, 2018

This painting explores the concept of vulgarity through a portrayal of dog fighting. Through role reversal, it calls out the loss in empathy and desensitization caused by internet and social media. Furthermore, the painting also alludes to controversial news about Guggenheim being forced to take down Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other by Peng Yu and Sun Yuan an artwork that analyzes dynamics of dominance and submission.

The reactions of the dogs in the painting are as avatars of internet commenters: some may encourage this violence, others may be deeply disturbed by it. The humans depicted have lost their humanity and identity under pressure and duress. Internet slang words LOL and WTF juxtaposed over this scene of violence bring an almost absurd black humor to it, subverting the seriousness of the event. These words “erase” parts of the painting, showing an alpha channel underneath. Is it one-dimensional, as layer of pixels in photoshop? Does that even matter?


Comment

When Will the Rain Stop?

Comment

When Will the Rain Stop?

umbrella4_web.jpg

When Will the Rain Stop?/In Hope for Some Sunshine

Oil on wood panel
16 in x 20 in
July, 2018

As an artist in this world, we often question our own roles in society. When will it be the day we can feel like we “made it”? Or even what happens to our work after we die? Where do we belong? A lot of people say artist only become famous after they die. But the truth is most of the time that doesn’t happen.

We are as munchkins scattering in the rain to find a niche to belong in. Some artists find themselves under the shelter of well known institutions, while others are still out in the rain searching for their own sanctuaries.

These characters are protected under their vibrant umbrellas; however, what protects them also obscures their vision as they stumble through this harsh terrain. Unfortunately, some get trampled over, broken, outdated, like a corpse left in the harsh terrain to rot. This world is not easy for most creatives because there is no direct formula or guideline to successful. To do what others do will only make you a follower, but innovating may also risk nobody believing in you.   



Comment

Pari Passu

Comment

Pari Passu

Pari Passu

Oil on Canvas
8 x 10 in
April 11, 2018

Pari Passu is a piece created in dedication to the coffee shop Chang has spent most her time in during the early half year of 2018. She saw the coffee shop start from zero to the day it establish and open for business. With such a close connection to the establishment of this entity, she has portrayed it into this surreal painting her feelings toward this location. 

Comment

Conquest

Comment

Conquest

Conquest

Mixed Media on Canvas
20 x 42 Inches
December, 2017

A clash of genders and a clash of cultures.

The phallic characters on the right are dressed as Western monks. The vulvic characters are dressed as concubines. Having monks depicted as phallic characters infers that inside a facade of purity, are still impure thoughts. The vulvic personas devouring their counterparts symbolize that females can be dominant even from a place of submission.

Throughout history Western conquerors proclaim foreign lands their own, in the name of Christianity. In additional, the color of the background subtly brings up the modern phrase Yellow Fever — a term usually applied to white males who have a clear sexual preference for Asian women.

This dichotomy is not only genders, geography, but ideas first depicted as war. It is hard to tell who is winning, who subjugates who. But sexual activity is not a battle. When opposites come together, perhaps it is not for destruction, but procreation.

DSC_8929.jpg

Comment

Comment

De-flower

De-flower

Oil on Metal and Mirror
27 x 27 x 2.5 Inches
November 2017

Human beings are born good. It is in our nature to love and care about one another. However, when we begin to love things over people, when the materials we own end up owning us, that we lose our innocence.

Young women often become focused on the pursuit of luxury, forgetting their innocence. Sometimes they might sacrifice their body or integrity for that lifestyle. Few people will admit to this behavior; most are guilty of it.

Here, viewers can quietly reflect upon themselves as the fractured mirror pieces reflect on them.

IMG_9409.jpeg

Comment

Love Is a Four Letter Word

Comment

Love Is a Four Letter Word

loveisafourletterword.jpg

Love Is A Four Letter Word

Oil on Canvas
24.5 x 36 Inches
November 2017

The formal qualities describe the nature of difficulty in a relationship. Partners often question what is real, or what is right. The composition also shows a reversal of the traditional treatments of gender in Western art. Instead of the woman’s body on display, it is the man’s. The inclusion of a pig’s head evokes similar imagery from Lord of the Flies, expressing a criticism of primitivism. The apple symbolizes a loss of innocence.

Symbols of gender dominance are also juxtaposed: while man may be in a submissive position, he is holding a white lily (the woman’s virginity). The woman is holding grapes in her hand, emasculating the man.

The table is laden with Chinese food, some phallic in form. To Eastern people, dining together represents not only intimacy but family bond. However, the nakedness of the body on the table turns that idea on its head by appearing uncomfortable, almost perverse.

Comment

After the Storm

Comment

After the Storm

after_the_storm.jpg

After the Storm

Oil and Pastel on Canvas
24.5 x 36 Inches
November 2017

(Mortal Ascent Series 3 of 3: Love)

The third piece in the series was painted meditating on the idea that love is the destination.

After overcoming fear, leaving our cages behind, and weathering the storms inside of ourselves, it is that we can love ourselves, and eventually each other better. Paradoxically, we cannot weather these storms without first loving ourselves and each other.

Comment

The Divine Harmony

Comment

The Divine Harmony

The Divine Harmony

Oil on Glass Tile and Mirror
30 x 30 x 1 Inches
October 2017

Man and woman, existing in perfect harmony, is a difficult yin and yang dynamic.

In the past, men have often dominated women in many societies. However, in modern times, human are finding more balance and equality.

Following the ying and the yang, in keeping with fengshui dynamics to create harmony, the man faces south and the female faces north. Together they find their own form of purity, represented by a lotus flower.

To see this delicate balance in relationship is true reflection of our inner selves.

Comment

T.ildeathdouspart

Comment

T.ildeathdouspart

T.ildeathdouspart

23.75 x 17.75 Inches
Oil and Shellac on Canvas
October 2017

“Like flies to honey” is a Taiwanese saying describing schoolboys lusting after the opposite gender.

A woman is indeed like a fragrant flower, and a carnivorous one at that; and the man, a fly.

But in this case, death is not necessarily a bad thing; death is rebirth. Through commitment, we leave our old selves behind and become two new symbiotic selves together.

All work © 2016 Anko Chang. Please do not reproduce without the written consent of Anko Chang.

Comment

The Epidemic

Comment

The Epidemic

The Epidemic

Watercolor on Paper and Javascript
July 2016, August 2017

The Epidemic is an experimental piece made after the announcement of rising epidemic of Zika virus from mosquitos. This virus causes deformities in the head of the victims' baby. Scientist and doctors are working very hard to combat the pace of the spreading epidemic. The virus spreads and gets terminated within movements of this animation.

Comment

Red Moon's Call

Comment

Red Moon's Call

Red Moon’s Call
Oil on Canvas
24 x 20 Inches
July 2017

According to Taoist tradition, on the eve of the Gods, the night of the red moon, roles are carried out by male dancers with painted faces symbolizing transmutation and change. Females are excluded from this tradition due to the so-called impurity of their menstruation.

This painting portrays a reversal of this, a female painting her face, about to accept her divine transformation on the night of red moon, in defiance of social customs. The aesthetic is also a reversal of traditional Chinese painting, with white on black instead.

I hope to express a sense of empowerment for women in conservative cultures to not be held back by the old ways, and transmute themselves, under the red moon.

Comment