On June 20, the 2017 graduation ceremony was held, announcing the winner of the 2nd “First Step Award”. Prof. Xu Bing, Director of the Academic Committee, gave the award certificate to the winner of the award Su Yongjian, a graduate from the School of Design. CAFA ART INFO interviewed the graduate Su Yongjian, to talk about his feelings of winning the prize and the graduation work “A Worm Cabin”, etc.
Interview Time: July 24, 2017
Interviewee: Su Yongjian (hereinafter referred to as Su)
Interviewer: Lin Jiabin (hereinafter referred to as CAFA ART INFO)
Translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO
CAFA ART INFO: “First Step Award” is the first award which is set up for the graduates by CAFA, which represents the highest level of CAFA’s graduates. Congratulations on winning the solo “First Step Award” this year, how do you think about it?
Su: I think it has been a big task for me to achieve the “highest level”. Comparatively speaking, the so-called highest award depends on a number of factors and it is difficult to find the standard that the judges were using. “First Step Award” is not determined by works, nor the superb creative tactics and profound attainment but a spiritual temperament of a person when he/she is creating. I think spiritual temperament is unique and solidified, and it is as profound as a brand, with a meaning that is far more important than the pronoun of “highest level”.
I spent most of my time in the creation during the graduation creation. I have never been as satisfied as I was creating over these 6 months. After all, I was fascinated to do it and people can see the effort and emotions that I devoted to it. I think it is the key reason why I won the award. In addition, the “First Step Award” is not a personal honor for me, but a result of the joint efforts made by people who have helped me, so I am very grateful to the mentors and classmates who have helped me this year, in addition to thanking the opportunity given by the academy.
CAFA ART INFO: Taking insects as the core, your graduation work “A Worm Cabin” is a large-scale work with a mechanical device as the carrier. It involves mechanics, technology, interaction, etc. Would you like to talk about the whole process starting from the original conception to the finish?
Su: This work started last September. I was synchronously conceiving and making it during the 10 months of creation, rather than making it after the program was completely conceived and established. In addition to conceiving it, I have to deal with the essential technical problems from the first three months, namely how to use various types of sensors to capture the trajectories of different insects and I have finished 2 or 3 small demos; in the second three months I tried the combination of different materials and processing methods; in addition to the processing of metal parts, almost every small device was not finished until it was continuously refined and adjusted; in the last three months it was assembled, and the shell of the work was customized and processed duringthe last month.
CAFA ART INFO: In such a huge process of starting from the sketch to the finishing of the work, was it personally finished by you or finished by a team? What is the most difficult part of the period?
Su: I individually finished it, except for finding a helper and porters to deal with the large and heavy parts. Starting from the idea, to the sketch and the processing of each small part, assembling and programming, were all finished by myself. I think the real difficult link was located in the conception of the work, how to make a conception and inputting the work to the inner spirit and temperament is more difficult than hands-on production and it is the essential value of the work of art.
CAFA ART INFO: How do you see the relationship between art and technology from your perspective?
Su: On the one hand, science and technology led to the development of the present “new media”, namely the present “digital media”, which makes artistic expressions richer in the form; on the other hand, I think an artist is walking in the forefront of science and technology instead of a scientist.
Technology can only act as a creative tool for an artist, while excessively superimposing technical means which will inevitably be applied to cover the poverty of art, so that we should maintain a positive and cautious attitude for the location of the science and technology in the artistic creation.
CAFA ART INFO: Why did you choose this direction when you studied “Digital Media Art” in CAFA? What was the greatest impact on your learning process from your instructor and the teaching of CAFA?
Su: Digital media itself is a new medium, which also emphasizes the diversity of creative media, and it is a particularly exciting thing to explore and perform the medium, especially the process of science and technology media itself.
The charm of the Academy is that it has a group of superb teachers and a peer group and all people work together to create a very open, vibrant and strong atmosphere for art. The unique thinking mode, working methods, spiritual temperament of the Academy is the thing that heavily impacted on me.
CAFA ART INFO: Do you have a plan for your future, after graduating from CAFA?
Su: After graduation, I will continue to study in CAFA as a postgraduate student, majoring in “Intelligent Technology and Design”, and I hope to have an overseas exchange during the postgraduate study. I have two creeds that I have been sticking to and hope to be able to apply in my life: Firstly, always let yourself be happy; secondly, always keep to the original intention. Finishing the graduation design and winning the “First Step Award” is a new beginning for me, because I think I just found my own way I should go on and I would like to continue to insanely play with art, science and technology in the next three years.
About the Work
Title: A Worm Cabin
Materials: insects, steel, glass, acrylic
Size: 3.5 × 2.4 × 2.8 m
Artist: Su Yongjian
Major: Interactive Design, Digital Media Art
Instructors: Jin Jun, Fei Jun, Chi Peng
Courtesy of the artist.