Modern design focuses on the organic integration of concept, thinking, performance and cultural spirit and the teaching of the School of Design at CAFA which has also encouraged students to concentrate on the learning of the advanced design concepts and practical experiences, while cultivating the innovative thinking and the professional expanding ability with their own cultural personality. The teaching characteristic is the pursuit of the humanities, openness and multicultural exchanges, to cultivate numerous distinctive designers, the courageous, independent graduate Long Yowen who has broad interests is one of them.
Walking in the “Empty Scenes” Between Fiction and Reality
The graduate exhibition of the School of Design is on display at the CAFA Museum of History, all the exhibits and display systems are light spots, and the original open space has been carefully divided, the white grids, together with the vertical and horizontal trend of the scaffold structurally support the partition of the works, in the context of harmonious relations it reveals its own characteristics of the school, while it builds an invisible spectating path to navigate the audience to visit the show. Many groups of photos are hung in an orderly fashion on the white walls on the left side of the hall entrance, one can distantly recognize that they are urban scenes, above the images it annotates the words “New York”, “Beijing” and so on, and the loop plays back a video that is set sideward, three fine books including the script of the text, the book of images, and the recording of the creative process are unfolded onto the white table – it is the graduation work entitled “The Empty” by Long Yowen, from the 10th Studio of the School of Design.
“The Empty” takes the empty scenes of the 10 films by Japanese film master Yasujiro Ozu as blueprints, editing these images to combine the subjects of a new story, the happening process starts from the daytime and ends in the evening, covering the spring, summer, autumn and winter, in order to present the details of the times in the permanent real world. Long Yowen annotates it as this: “I have considered this story as a female parent, translating the images to a text, in order to perfectly remove the original fiction of the empty scenes in the process of translation, all the descriptive words are deleted, only the words containing the descriptions of physical properties are maintained.” This translated text is the script to shoot the final images of Long Yowen’s work.
In the video which is reduced to three minutes and forty seconds, people can continuously hear the voices from the cities and people’s activities, but only seeing the empty scenes flowing in time and space.” Long Yowen’s work frames the three cities including Beijing, Taipei and New York, where she has lived, containing different meanings for her. Since her childhood, she has seldom lived together with her parents and moved from one city to another one again and again, and her family are is scattered over different cities. Therefore, Long Yowen has been independent from an early age, being self-reliant when she was an undergraduate, earning her tuition and living expenses. Her parents also influence her character, while the maverick girl feels grateful to her parents who have never restrained her and the mutual trust between the families also makes her strong and positive.
When she was a graduate freshman, Long Yowen established this research direction – empty scenes of films. For her, it is a fascinating type of image.” Because empty scenes are of the smallest percentage in the narrative film, but they are indispensable, and they both belong to the real world and the fictional images of films.” She carefully planned the research methods and practice, together with the curiosity of the empty scenes. In this hard process, many teachers, especially her tutor Tan Ping gave her assistance, she sincerely thanked her tutor and said that, “Prof. Tan has an invisible cohesion and affinity, and he is always accompanied by the students, he will never give you a way, and you must clearly know where you are going to, he will walk together with you, and even walk faster than you, if you wrestle, he will talk with you and encourage you to go on, if approaching a branch road, you are confused, he will give you some tips, but the choice is left to you.”
Design Continuously Stimulates Thinking, to Encourage the Motivationof Actively Learning
Long Yowen was also an undergraduate student from the School of Design, majored in Visual Communication, studied in the 11th Studio directed by Prof. Wang Min, she said that, “I am glad that I have chosen the profession of visual communication, which makes my observation of “relationship” more alert and set up a multi-directional thinking method.” In addition to efforts to increase professional skills, she was an absolute fan of books and films of that period, she indulged in the books that related to traditional Chinese history and culture, such as Li Zhi’s “Reviews on the Historical Representative Books”, Qian Mu’s“Outline of the Study of Chinese Ancient Civilization”, and even the “Recent Three Hundred Years Academic History in China” and so on, she annotated it while reading.
Long made a rough count that she has watched a total of 2300 films to this present day including the relative conventional literary films, the art films and independent films which are not popular with the public. Long Yowen said that, after watching a large number of films, she finally found her favorites, and she hoped she was able to work as fanatically and sturdily as her most admired director Werner Herzog – in order to pursue the authenticity of shooting pictures, he spent 4 years in carrying a 340-ton steam ship to the mountain, relying on simple equipment and manpower – it is necessary for the artists to maintain a rich and independent spiritual world, and to be loyal to the heart, keeping on the high artistic standard.
Long Yowen also chose film-related topics to create her undergraduate graduation work, which is called “Screen-book” – as a Taiwanese, she picked out the most representative fifty Taiwanese New Wave films, which were divided into 10 parts in accordance with the directors and years, and these images were turned into cross-pages of books. After graduation, she worked in a Hong Kong movie company, in line with the perseverance of image. Although she worked and studied in the professional film production company, she never stopped hergraphic design work during this period. Everyone wishes for the “professional job” and “instinct love” are allowed to be interwoven and mutually interacted, producing chemical reactions, and gaining pleasure. Her love for films gradually penetrated into the involved design work, and then Long participated in the production of posters and exhibition brochures of a variety of independent films,as well as the poster design of a domestic film show. She frankly said that:“Design is a process of training my mind and logic capabilities.”
Past, Present and Future, I Have Never Stopped
Teachers Tan Ping and Han Bing often arrange all the students from each grade of the studio to gather together to talk about the recent status of each person, she said that, “I really enjoy regularly checking work in the weekly afternoon sessions”, and “there are some postgraduate students of printmaking in the studio, we are working in different directions and I am inspired when seeing other students’ works each time.” Long Yowen has harvested many things from classmates’ friendship which was naturally built up during the period of postgraduate study over the past three years, and it has become a great force to drive her continuously forward.
After hearing that Long Yowen had a observation case by CAFA ART INFO, Prof. Tan Ping wrote a congratulatory speech for her, which reads: Long Yowen is a student who I don’t need to be worry about, because she actively requests what she wants, and carries it out by herself. She has a lot of thoughts, especially when she encounters problems by herself and her execution is also very strong. In her graduation creation, she has chosen a point which is not concerned by the public, turning the thing that is seemingly unimportant and nonsense for the majority of the audience to a meaningful thing … Starting from a dummy point, she eventually makes it a meaningful work through her own research method, and she has been very firm in her direction in the whole process.
Talking about future plans, Long Yowen said that, “I am very excited to graduate. At the same time, I will also continue to adhere to shooting images, together with my ideal to constantly approach my goal. It is ideal that I live in Beijing as I am able to travel to many different places to shoot images.” Long Yowen has a special feeling of Beijing which witnessed her growth over the 9 years, at the same time, meeting various people and encountering different opportunities are also reasons that draw her to stay, in short, living in the city and maintaining the independent space is the best reason for an artist to stay.
Photo Courtesy of Long Youwen, Text by Zhang Yizhi, translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO