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.
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made many traditional art media anachronistic in this era; I am a painter in a time where visual creation may soon be outdated.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.
Grad school can be my accomplice to this murder. It is through an integrated environment of feedback by a highly academic student body and prominent visiting critics/ theorists’ criticism that my ideas can be properly vetted for true impact. With these resources, I can increase my sensibilities to investigate these topics of experiential function and dimensions. 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.