Archive for June, 2009
Everything is art in modern society. I experienced invisible art during my fourth week at Cai Studio. Video editing is a foundation course for design students at Parsons. I learned the tool, but never had a chance to put it in use until Cai Studio. The editing process itself is a form of art, it tells a story. Most of us neglect the relationship in between frames when we watch a movie, and that is due to the distinctive techniques of an editor. Sequences, images, melody, voice, tempo all come together to lead us from one frame to another. Proactive montage is the only way to grasp the hearts of the audiences. Through the opportunity to edit short demo films on the making of certain artworks, I was able to explore the possibilities in video editing. Piecing together the story and process behind a 16-panel gunpowder drawing on the topic of four seasons. From start to finish, incorporating every step of the making process in five minutes. Is it really possible to fit an entire day into five minutes? Oh yes, and I found a trick! Paying tremendous attention to details is crucial in the process of editing. Cutting at the wrong place lead to a lighting effect when frames are combined. The process is almost mathematical, permutations, combinations and factoring out the unnecessary. This system also exists in the world of translators.
A translator is a machine trapped in a human body, the machine can only survive in a human body. This is because good translations demand flexibility. It is necessary to alter one’s personality when facing different writers in order to be fully engaged with the work. It’s the only way to be invisible and successfully relocate the voice of a writer. Bonnie and I shared a conversation on the objective of translators. It is time consuming, definitely not well paid, and sometimes not respected. Why do people do it? We came to the conclusion of having the advantage to borrow one’s voice and personality is what makes translation pleasurable. It’s not imitation, it’s duplication. Duplicating the voice to fit into another culture. It’s not as simple as converting words of languages. It’s becoming a converter for cultures. This converter can never be a machine, machines lack of flexibility and vitality of human beings. I fell in love with the permutations, combinations of words when translating an essay on explosion by a Brazilian psychoanalyst. Having the ability and freedom to create and solve your own equations in languages catered to voices is almost orgasmic.
It’d be silly for me to call lunch a culture at Cai Studio, but the lunch-scape here at the studio is home to most team members. Family style way of eating is strictly Chinese, it is still the way modern Chinese eat. Border-less conversations float along the long table.
Family Style Bubbles:
Listening to others chat is a hobby of mine. Amidst the conversations I thought of home, I thought of Frank Lloyd Wright’s fellowship, but most of it all I thought of the joint forces of Cai Studio. Large varieties of topics convert to the foundation of bucket-effect-proof synergy. And of course, I am the happiest in middle of it all.
A few weekends ago the Studio headed to the southern tip of Roosevelt Island for an introductory lesson in pyrotechnics. Our instructor, Phil Grucci of Fireworks by Grucci, lead us on a detailed walking tour of the fireworks setup for the Queensboro Bridge centennial celebration. He explained everything from electronic fuses to standard safety procedures and a few typical design challenges. The lesson was a good opportunity for our new staff to become familiar with technical terminology and equipment.
Hidden from view in both these photos is Cai’s contribution to the Artstrong show, which opens July 16th at Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris. (Top photo, fourth from left, is intern Mona Chen. Bottom photo, second from left, is new archives assistant Phoebe Ford.)
我们一行人在堵车两个小时后从东村来到了长岛的Grucci 烟火公司. 农场式的空间很难想像这就是蔡的爆破基地。
晚上9：30整我们开始了部分作品的打包工作。 细心的 Chinyan 对待胶带她总是耐心地折起尾巴为下个开封的人着想。热爱助人的 Kelly 总是在别人最需要的时候伸出援助之手，屁股上的口袋永远插着剪刀，小刀和一把笔。或许我们需要的是她口袋里的东西，但我们更需要的是准备充分的她。 在我们小心翼翼地为作品盖上被子后我们回“家”了。
Four new works by the Cai were realized on a recent trip to the Gruccis on Long Island. The innovation of Cai’s drawings is directly related to his use of gunpowder as a medium. As a neophyte witnessing the process by which Cai works; I was not prepared for the first “Bang!” I quickly adapted to the process and indulged in the artist’s pyrotechnics with my eyes closed; smelled the scent of Spring Festival in a Village. Upon opening my eyes, I saw nothing but a piece of contemporary art. Capturing the moment is my interpretation of the work. Various-sized blotches of gunpowder serve as Cai’s drawing tool. He sowed the seeds of art onto eight equal-sized panels, lighting the way to a celebration of sparks. Stiff cardboard could not fight the passion of fire, but the drama was short-lived, leaving a moment of the carnival on paper as evidence of the moment. Man-made composition paired with unexpected moments objectified the pleasures of his passion. I immersed myself in the frozen moment of “Bang!” I listened closely to the language of explosion, desiring the arrival of the next reunion.
At precisely 9:30 PM on Friday evening, we packed up the first two finished works. Chinyan, the project manager of Cai Studio, wowed me with her attention to detail. She folded the end of each piece of tape, as I glimpsed discreetly at her actions. Having the next users in mind as we packaged, I couldn’t help noticing the back pockets of Kelly’s black jeans. Well prepared, she filled them with a pair of scissors, an X-acto knife and a sharpie. She was always ready on the spot whenever anyone needed her or the contents of her back pockets. We hurried back “home” to the Marriot after dinner around midnight.
The character of each of Cai’s works varies from the mood of the gunpowder. It was clearly not in a good mood on the sunny day of Saturday. Stubborn gunpowder required extra attention from Cai. It refused to “Bang!” as a collective after numerous attempts to ignite it. Cai patiently chattered with each one of the seeds and gave them their own stage on which to sparkle. I did not encounter the dramatic reunion I was expecting, but the soft-spoken flings swept off my feet. Never have I imagined fireworks could be so gentle.
On the way home on Saturday afternoon, everyone sat motionless. Some showed a poker face, some stared impassively into space, and others fell into a deep sleep. The studio door was quickly unlocked upon arrival. Cai entered first. He meandered through the studio until discovering an unlocked door. Devastation spread over his face, like a child whose toy box is missing. “Who was the last one to leave the office on Friday?” he shouted. Five minutes later with no answer, he focused on inspecting every inch of the studio. Attention to detail is a top-down culture at Cai studio. He is the king of detail in this miniature art nation. It is an essential factor in all successful organizations.
Thursday rapidly arrived. Upon the completion of my library organization project, I enjoyed a coffee break. Whole Foods Market is an emporium of fresh smells. As I loaded upon on my daily intake of organic caffeine, I thought about how difficult it is to be an art/design student looking into the abyss of graduation. Two or three of the lucky ones will find their spot at graduation exhibition, but the vast majority will find no immediate gratification. Many conservatives of my parents’ generation think it depressing so few students will sustain themselves after graduating. I respond with, “It is not sad at all!” I believe in education for its own sake, because it is deeply humanizing. It is about being more fulfilled as a human being.
Many people assume that extraordinary artwork requires some degree of media participation. Surprisingly, I learned that Cai Studio has no official contact for public relations. Sublime seduction of his work speaks for itself. Placing myself in the context with two weeks of first-hand experience in the studio environment allowed me to learn through keen observation and attentive listening. Maybe interviews will be part of my next report! See you next week! =)