Archive for June, 2009

Hard at work

cai-wenhow-drawing

Photos by Hong Hong Wu

Photos by Hong Hong Wu

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My other job

 

Two dads--Cai and Tun Dun. Photo by Hong Hong Wu.

Two dads--Cai and Tan Dun. Photo by Hong Hong Wu.

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The Intern’s Weekly Report (Part 4)

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隐形的艺术

当今社会中艺术无所不在。第四周的实习我体会到了隐形的艺术。剪接短片是艺术学院的基本课程,但学校的课程中学的是手段,在蔡工作室我学到的是利用工具排列出故事情节。剪接出一个容易理解并且画面精彩的短片本身就是艺术。每当看电影时我们常常会忽略每个镜头之间的联系,因为巧妙的手法,使我们忘记剪接的存在。影象,图片,音乐,谈话,节奏,悄悄地引导着观众从一个镜头走进令一个镜头。充满诱惑力的蒙太奇才能锁住观众的心。我通过剪接的机会摸索出了初步的窍门。作品四季之春的体型庞大,制作过程复杂,由16片木板组成,花了多余一天的时间制作。真的能把一天的每个步骤在5分钟内说完吗? 可以的。细节,是的,将一个画面带到另一个画面靠的是细心的观察,剪错的后果展现的是如闪电般不友好的影象。该柔的地方溶明,溶暗,该刚的地方节奏紧凑。这种排列组合式的隐形艺术不只出现在剪接中,也出现在翻译的世界里。
翻译者本身是一种工具,但这工具必须具有可塑性强的功能。面对不同的作家,不同的主题需要随机应变。换为思考将自己融入其中,但此刻又必须忘我才能达到隐身的境界,成功地为作者表达出真实的心声。Bonnie 和我无意中聊起了翻译的动机。收入并不厚实却又需要花大量时间的工作为什么有那么多乐于其中的翻译家?我们共同走向一个结论。借别人的嘴巴说话,借别人的人生体会。这不是模仿,不是肢体的艺术。这是拷贝,是复印。将一种文化中的声音复印到另一种文化中,最难的地方是读者接收到信息后的反映,感受必须符合作家最原始的目的。这时的翻译已经不是简单的语言,而成为了文化转换器。这个转换器必须由人来担任,因为机器不具备人类的应变能力。在翻译一篇巴西精神分析学家写的关于爆破的论文时我不知不觉地爱上了语言中的排列组合。不同的排列带来不同的感觉,巧妙地将原始语言的排列转换成目标语言的排列,其中会带给翻译人一种快感,就像突然解决出一道难以理解的数学题。在乐趣中慢慢摸索言语的公式,创造出自己的原则,体验别人的心声,同时又链接文化,帮助人们,这种种理由构成了翻译背后的发动机。

Invisible Art
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.

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The Intern’s Weekly Report (Part 3)

如果说午餐在蔡工作室是一种文化那一点也不惟过。独自在纽约生活的工作人员们或许就只有在这短短的午餐时间能感受到家的感觉。家庭式的吃法是中国五千年文化的积淀,一直流传至今。穿梭于中美文化间的我更乐爱中国人强烈的家庭观念。每天的午餐围绕着一条长长的桌子,没有代沟的沟通给带给大家轻松的心情。
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.

午餐的泡泡:
Family Style Bubbles:

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爱好听人聊天,讲故事的我有时会想到家,有时会想到建筑师弗兰克•劳埃德•赖特与他妻子欧格凡娜的学生们,但最多时候我想到的是蔡工作室团结的力量。五花八门的话题,多方位的思考形成了工作室无短板的工作形式。我自然乐于其中。=)
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.

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Studio Training: Fireworks Anatomy 101

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Taking Notes

Notes by Chinyan Wong, courtesy Cai Studio

Group Photo with Technicians

Roosevelt Island Centennial Celebration

Photos by I-Hua Lee, notes by Chinyan Wong, courtesy Cai Studio

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.

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The leaves are a hint

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Photos by I-Hua Lee, courtesy Cai Studio

Photos by I-Hua Lee, courtesy Cai Studio

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.)

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The Intern’s Weekly Report (Part 2)

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。

           “轰!”没有心理准备的我先被吓得魂飞魄散! 第一声后我适应了这奇特的创作工具。空气中弥漫着烟火的气息,眼睛闭上,感受到的是乡村的春节。眼睛张开后看到的是没有国界的当代艺术品。捕捉瞬间是我对这些炸出来的作品的理解。

         一颗颗大小不一的火药是蔡的颜料,像撒种子似的在8个屏风上撒下艺术的种子。在导火线的引导下开辟了一条狂欢的道路,呆板的纸皮盖不住喧哗的火花,但闪亮的光芒是短暂的,在纸上留下了瞬间的魅影。每件成品都讲述着那一秒钟的故事,瞬间的偶然加上人为的构图,形成了霸气的美。我沉浸在那劈里啪啦的瞬间,倾听着烟火的语言,渴望着下次重逢的来临。

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。

表情不一的作品都是火药性格的烙印。阳光明媚的礼拜六似乎在向火药们炫耀自己的美,以自我为中心的它决定以赌气面对一切。团结一致的它们变成了一盘散沙。蔡耐心地与它们谈判,进行了一番思想工作。最后为每粒种子留下自己发光的舞台。我梦想中激烈的重逢或许没有实现,但优雅的火花感动了我。从不知道原来火药能够如此温柔。

在回工作室的路上,有的面无表情地坐着,有的发起了呆,还有的陷入了深深的睡眠中。回到东村后,蔡第一个走进了工作室。他紧张的表情像个丢失百宝箱的小孩,“谁是礼拜五最后离开工作室的人?”他指着一扇在风中摇摆的玻璃们。五分钟后仍然没有确切的答案。他好不含糊地观察着工作室的每个角落,担心错过了陌生人留下的踪迹。细节决定成败是从我从小听到大的话。每个成功的人或企业背后都有一箩筐的细节。蔡的细心与他喜欢违反常规的艺术家性格似乎有点矛盾,但正因为这尴尬奇妙的组合决定了他的成功。

转眼间礼拜四到了,成功地完成了图书馆工程。我以咖啡犒劳了自己。站在充满田园气息的有机食品店里,我想到了做起步艺术家/设计师的艰难。许多创意类毕业生的前景是渺茫的,或许几个幸运的能成功的在竞争力超乎想像的毕业展览上展现自己的作品。有些保守的前辈会开始质疑艺术教育的成败,劝导我们走出梦幻,以糊口为目的而奋斗。但每当这个时刻我都会反驳,因为我相信有热情的教育,这是填满人类满足感的基本。

许多人认为一件成功的艺术品背后必定需要媒体的炒做。但我惊奇地发现蔡工作室里并没有公关。充满诱惑力的作品就是最好的公关。陷于其中 ,两个礼拜内我通过视觉上的仔细观察,以及认真地倾听收获到了千金难买的经历。我会继续努力的!也许我会为下次报告做些采访!下周末见! 
 

                   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!  =)    


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