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JIE SUN Interview

Posted on May 23 2013

How crucial is the power of imagination while at work?
Let's turn the time back to 15 years ago, the touch-screen on laptop still just a certain concept we are only able to imagine thanks to Hollywood science fiction movies. And then, let's turn to nowadays, when we even have products like google glasses and you can easily get any information you are looking for, by merely blinking your eyes. Is this incredible? Yes, but it is the reality of our contemporary society. This is just a small example of the power of imagination- the original power for the future human being. Everything can come true as long as a human being is able to imagine. At the same time, I also think, imagination is a special gift we have, that distinguishes us from any other animal on earth.

Would you describe your personal imaginative power? What is most characteristic of it?
My subtle attention to the natural forms and materials gives my gestures a strong visible presence. Although the shape and finished look of my works alludes to the natural world  - birds, fish, stalagmites, moss or coral reefs - the majority of my original materials are the result of big quantity cut wood leaf, coloured by more than twenty times painted and sanded layers. It is informed by the traditional Chinese lacquer craft, which became a highly artistic craft since the time of the Shang Dynasty (ca.1600–1046BCE) in China. This technique creates a paradox in the object: although handcrafted in a time consuming process, the perfect surface almost looks like plastic. One of my recent collection pieces, The queen (2013), joins more than hundreds of rhomboidal leaves so as to evoke a powerful bird. Similarly, in Big Fish (2012), I fashion a sprawling vegetal irregular chain by regular construction. However, they are animals in the human imagination rather than animals themselves in nature. It is not where I take things from, it is where I take them to. During this process, the many hours of crafted constructed-wood expended on making these fragments, charges objects with a corresponding power - through a level of detail, a surprising likeness. They may appear obvious in this respect, yet their interest lies in the complex way in which we acquire a sense of it. The Archive of my design not only expresses an appreciation of the abundance of materials and the beauty that quantity and consistency can produce, but also making an artistic statement and concept with a critique of contemporary concern.

Where do you turn your eyes to, when in need of looking at true beauty?
Recalling that there are two types of fools in literature might help to situate my disparate and often deliberate practice. First there is the Shakespearean fool, whose nonsense expresses the real truth of a situation. Second, there’s the fool who does away with the duality between ostensible and actual expression and delights in the shifting of appearances to prefigure unrevealed truths. I am more like the later.

In your opinion, in what ways is art important for a person?
I always believe that art is our basic need, especially as any human being. However, the meaning of what is art becomes the key to understand it. Because every culture brings a different angle to identify the function of art. Simply said, I think one could become an artist with or without any sense of art; one could have a sense of art without being an artist. In this sense, "artist" could be just a job, but anyone who has an artistic talent also does not have to become an artist. Art becomes a way of looking at the world in which creativity translates positive energy into life.

Do you care about fashion?
Sure, I like all beautiful things, as I like a beautiful soul. In Chinese culture, we have a logion, it says "相由心生" ( Xiang You Xin Sheng), which it means "Our perceptions of the world will change with the changes of our soul; whereas our outward appearance springs from our heart." For the industry, fashion is money and market. When it becomes personal story, fashion is the outward appearance of a person.

As a child, do you remember taking a special interest in jewelry?
 I never had a serious interest in making it or had any interest in jewelry at all, when I was a child. I started to learn Chinese ink painting and made colorful drawings when I was a child. And I grew up very close to nature, where the plants, insects and little animals were my "friends"; these would fill up my childhood memories. For me, jewelry is a language which I use it to express and load my ideas and myself. At the same time, I am always trying to push the boundaries between art and design into practice.

Would you give me your personal definition of elegance?
 Interesting question. Once it had been discovered that simultaneously holding and shaping simple elements could form objects that represent existing things, it would have been evident that imaginative control could be exerted over the world. The suggestion that it might be possible to influence events in the world must have been overwhelming. Thus, by its very nature, to process the soul was potency. The ability to affect the behaviour of soul further by translating it through making objects, gave durability to that potential. And this soul brings the meaning of elegance to anything.


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