All posts by david

When Comic Books Depict Reality

As a medium, comic books fall somewhere between literature and film – it can have the depth of well-written literary works but stir emotions like powerful works of cinema. Despite the versatility of comics, the comic book scene in China still remains largely underdeveloped. But even in the stagnant state of affairs, Chinese comics still possess their own unique characteristics, especially independent productions. “For any comic book, being interesting is key,” says Newliu, a Sichuan-based independent comic book artist. But how do you define “interesting”? For every person you ask, you’ll most likely end up with a different explanation. But a crucial part of making a story “interesting” might begin with having full control of the creation and publishing process, a perk of being an independent comic artist. This allows for more experimental works, a sense of intimacy, and creative freedom. This freedom is partly what has allowed Newliu to create his highly compelling stories.


“漫画,有趣是最重要的。”可是“有趣”的标准是什么?一百个人就有一百种说法。漫画的表现方式介于文学与电影之间,既可以有文学作品的内涵又可以像电影般直指人心。虽说现在中国漫画的发展并不乐观,但也不乏一些有着自己特色的作品,特别是独立漫画。独立的含义是指漫画家独自创作甚至发行,这样创作出的作品往往更具实验性和私密性。同时,独立漫画往往也能带给创作者更多的空间。而这种空间,也正是漫画家Newliu能产出这么多好作品的其中一个重要原因。

Newliu’s comics often combine his vivid imagination with personal memories. His storytelling is highly influenced by cinema, and he has sourced inspiration from black-and-white silent films, arthouse films, and cult classics. But, to date, the movies that have influenced Newliu the most are the works of Takeshi Kitano. Quite similar to Kitano’s approach, many of Newliu’s messages are veiled and implicit. In addition, his narrative structure is also quite similar – he begins with a slow-progressing storyline that builds momentum before reaching an explosive climax, followed up with a wind-down period that brings the story to a calming conclusion.


Newliu的漫画大多出自他自己的回忆,再加上一些有趣的奇幻元素组合而成。他的作品深受电影的影响,比如黑色幽默电影或是文艺片和cult片。对他影响最深的是北野武的电影。Newliu的作品内容都很含蓄,就如北野武的电影一般,慢慢地进行着故事的推演,再将积蓄的能量一次性喷发出来,最后又缓缓地结束故事,很温柔也很安静。

In China, many comics illustrators who want to make livable wages while still creating must make compromises. They’ll work as teachers or take on commercial illustration gigs. There are very few comics artists who are full-time illustrators in the country. After all, due to the avant-garde and non-mainstream nature of independent comics, they only appeal to a niche readership. Newliu says that he himself is thinking about taking on a teaching job, stating that he sees it as simply a means of making money to support his drawing habits.


目前国内的独立漫画也处于一个较为尴尬的位置,漫画家为了生活必须向很多方面妥协,有的选择画商业插画有的选择做教师,只有少数漫画家坚持着全职漫画。毕竟独立漫画由于其实验性和他的特殊,并没有太多的读者。当Newliu说到这点时,他也表示自己正在考虑从事一些教师工作,称其为“挣钱养画”。

Undeterred by the challenges he faces, Newliu says that even if there’s only one person reading his comics, he’ll still give it his all. His first-ever independently released comic, Angry David, received a highly positive reception. It took him four years to put together the story, but such is the cost of creating a quality story. The unfortunate thing is that there is far less to gain for artists producing a well thought-out piece of work when compared with churning out fast, commercial works.


面对这些困难和挑战,Newliu也没想过要放弃。“就算有只有1名读者,我也要全力以赴。” Newliu的第一本单行本漫画《愤怒的大卫》评价颇高,这样一本优秀漫画的绘制就花费了4年时间,可是如此优秀的作品相较于其他商业漫画的回报来说实在是太少了,着实令人惋惜。

So considering the unfavorable situation for comic book artists in China, perhaps the melancholy that forms the foundation of Newliu’s stories is justified. His comics often revolve around a humble protagonist who puts in a great deal of effort towards his goal but still ends up failing; it’s a conclusion that won’t be satisfying for most readers, but it’s a realistic depiction of life and the challenges that people face in it. “Tragedy is life,” Newliu comments. And just maybe, seeing a story where the main character does all the right things but still faces failure is far more interesting than the overly optimistic, unrealistic drivel that dominates the mainstream. Newliu shares that his upcoming work, Lee and I, will be an equally bleak story. The comic will revolve around the starting of a business and all the failures and compromises along the way. Despite the depressing nature of Newliu’s comics, it feels normal to laugh at certain moments of his story. Perhaps this is confirmation of the saying: “Tragedy plus time equals comedy.”


或许正是受到中国漫画行业低落气氛的影响,Newliu的作品主题总是带着悲伤凄凉的情绪。卑微的主人翁拼尽全力最终失败——这样的情节的确不容易讨好读者,但人生不就这样吗?Newliu回答说“ 悲剧是人生的主旋律。”在失败中拼尽全力在我看来比市面上伟光正的主旋律可是要光面不少了。他还向我透露了一些关于他的新作品——《我和Lee》的细节,这是一个关于创业与失败和妥协的故事,还是那么的悲伤,放眼望去是一片片蓝色,可是不知怎么的,看他的作品我总能笑出声来,也许正应验了那句话:“最好的喜剧,他的内核注定是悲剧的吧。”

Weibo: ~/newliugou

 

Contributor: Sonic Yuan


微博~/newliugou

 

供稿人: Sonic Yuan

Taiwan, Then & Now

Taipics is a digital archive of images chronicling the history of Taiwan. From portraits of aboriginal headhunters to historical images of Ximen before it turned into the shopping mecca that it is today, the comprehensive index of historical images has been diligent compiled by American expat Marc Plumb. Now boasting over 8,000 images of Taiwan’s past, the website is a cove of cultural treasures that document the people and moments that have shaped the island into what it is today. Scroll down to see a selection of some of our favorite images.


Taipics 是一个通过图片记录台湾历史的网站。从原住民头号猎手的画像,到台北西门在变成如今的购物中心之前的历史景象,居住在台湾的美国人Marc Plumb搜集了超过8000张有关台湾的历史画像,记录这个宝岛过去的人与时刻,可以说是台湾的一个文化宝藏。下面来欣赏一下我们挑选的画像。

Website: taipics.com

 

Contributor: David Yen


网站: taipics.com

 

供稿人: David Yen

Swan Song of the Badlas

The city of Lucknow has historical roots of being a cradle of art and literature in India. Inspired by the cultural backstory of his hometown, documentary photographer Taha Ahmad sought to celebrate the city’s rich heritage. This led to Swan Song of the Badlas, a photo series that documents the plight of local artisans who are attempting to preserve a dying tradition.


纪录片摄影师塔哈·艾哈迈德(Taha Ahmad)的家乡勒克瑙(Lucknow)是印度的艺术和文学中心。深受当地文化传统的启发,Ahmad试图探索其丰富的历史根源。他的摄影作品系列《Swan Song of the Badlas》赞颂了勒克瑙的文化遗产,并展示了努力传承即将失传的传统文化的人们所面临的困境。

Swan Song of the Badlas takes a look at the disappearing art of mukaish badla, a form of embroidery that was once prosperous in Lucknow during the 18th century. This art, which involves inserting threads of gold and silver into fabric, was originally used to beautify chikankari, another form of embroidery that also originated in Lucknow but remains quite well known throughout India.


《Swan Song of the Badlas》深入展现了即将失传的Mukaish badla艺术。这是勒克瑙当地一种特色刺绣形式,在18世纪曾风靡一时。这种刺绣艺术将金线和银线编织于织物中,最初是用来美化另一种勒克瑙特色刺绣形式chikankari。Chikankari至今在印度依然颇受欢迎。

Mukaish badla, however, was much more niche. The extravagance of using precious metals as embellishment meant that only the ruling class of the city sought after it in the past. But at the craft’s peak, the number of artisans (or badlas) in town reached upwards of 3,000. Today, there are less than 25 practitioners of the craft left in Lucknow, most of whom are over the age of 65. “Their population is dwindling, and soon, in not more than 20 or 25 years, they will become a part of history that can only be recalled in a poignant daydream or through visual imagery,” Ahmad wistfully says.


然而,Mukaish badla艺术更为小众,作为一种奢华的装饰,只有当地的统治阶级才有资格拥有。因此,这种刺绣艺术未能像chikankari一样走出当地,传播到印度其它地方。但是在巅峰时期,当地会有3000多名会这种刺绣工艺的手工匠(或称badlas)。现在,在勒克瑙只有不到25名会这种刺绣工艺的手工匠,其中绝大多数都已经在65岁以上。“会这种刺绣工艺的人越来越少,可能不用20年或25年,他们就会成为历史的一部分,只存在凄凉的白日梦或视觉图像的回忆中。“Ahmad担忧地说道。

The remaining artisans, who have devoted their whole lives to the art, make an abysmal wage of anywhere between two and three U.S. dollars per day. Their work can last up to ten hours per day and everything is done in small, suffocating rooms. Ahmad’s dramatic, black-and-white photo series is an intimate vignette of these surviving craftsmen, revealing their struggles, their plights, and their resiliency in fighting to maintain an art that’s being washed out by the waves of time. Scroll down to see more photos from the series.


那些剩下的手工匠将他们的一生倾注在这种艺术中,每天却只能挣得两至三美元的微薄收入。他们每天在小得令人窒息的房间工作,有时甚至长达十个小时。Ahmad以充满戏剧性的黑白摄影作品,讲述了这些幸存的手工匠的故事,近距离展现他们的挣扎,他们的困境,以及他们在努力保护这种快要被时间浪潮卷走的艺术时所展现的韧力。一起来欣赏这个摄影系列中的其它作品吧。

Artpil~/taha-ahmad
Facebook~/taha-ahma

 

Contributor: David Yen


Artpil: ~/taha-ahmad
脸书: ~/taha-ahma

 

供稿人: David Yen

The Collages of Raintree1969

Some might consider collage art to be an artform with many unavoidable limitations and restrictions due to the medium’s use of pre-existing imagery, but that hasn’t stopped Raintree1969 from bringing to life the seemingly creatively boundless universes and creatures of his imagination. The Taiwanese visual artist’s surreal, Dali-esque worlds are filled with fantastically freakish monstrosities and strange deformities, all of which are presented in his signature retro aesthetic. The type of material he prefers to source from – vintage magazines, especially ones from the ’80s and ’90s – can be partially credited for his distinctive aesthetic. “I love Flaunt magazine,” he says. “They had several beautifully designed issues that are still very memorable to me.”


有些人认为拼贴艺术是一种充满限制性的艺术形式,因为需要使用现已存在的图像作为媒介,但这并没有阻止台湾视觉艺术家Raintree1969生动地创作出一个蕴藏无限创意的宇宙以及天马行空式的幻想之物。在他达利式的超现实世界中,充满了各式幻想怪物和怪奇形体,并以他独特的复古美学呈现出来。他最喜欢从二手杂志(特别是80年代和90年代的杂志)中搜集创作素材,这也可能是他形成自己独特的复古风格的原因之一。他说:“我现在还蛮喜欢《Flaunt》杂志,记得有几期杂志包装得很漂亮。”

“I watched a lot of superhero cartoons as a child, and whenever I saw the monsters get defeated, I would always wonder what happened to them,” Raintree recalls. “Do they have children or a family waiting for them at home?” Elaborating on this unconventional line of thought, he explains that it’s not exactly a sense of sympathy for the underdogs, but rather he considers it a pity that these characters just disappear so unceremoniously. His love of antagonists and baddies is made even more evident in his My top favorite 50 fictional characters series, which is chock-full of popular villains such as the Riddler, Dracula, and Frankenstein. “Over time, I grew quite fond these unconventional and unusual creatures.”


Raintree回忆说:“小时候看超人英雄卡通,每回妖怪被打败后,就匆匆带过,那时我都会想后来妖怪们怎么样了,是否也有家人小孩等着他呢? ”他解释这种奇怪的想法并不是对弱势怜悯,而是总觉得花了很多时间金钱打造的怪物们,就这样结束掉满可惜的。他对坏蛋和反派角色的热爱在《我最喜欢的50个虚构角色》(My top favorite 50 fictional characters)系列中尤为明显,这一系列展现了众多著名的超级反派,比如“谜语人”(Riddler),吸血鬼“德古拉”(Dracula)和科学怪人“弗兰肯斯坦(Frankenstein)。“我于是就渐渐研究和迷恋上这些比较属于非正常的物种上。”

Besides the odd creatures and an unchanging aesthetic being unifying traits of his work, certain motifs make appearances again and again in Raintree’s world, more specifically, a sense of isolation and searching. The main way that Raintree presents these themes are through his characters, who are often depicted with slumped shoulders, hunched over, or in an otherwise equally vulnerable posture. At times, these themes feel like they tie into a larger story around identity; his characters are humanoid, yet Frankenstein-like, an amalgamation of different and unusual parts, often placed in an alien surrounding, seemingly out of place. This is perhaps part of what makes his work so intriguing – these monsters remind us who we are, as creatures who are made up of the sum of our experiences, desperate in our collective desire to fit in and belong in a fast-moving world that may, at times, feel like a strangely unfamiliar place.


怪奇的生物和一致的美学风格是他作品的特色,此外,Raintree在自己的创意世界中,还会经常探索“寻找”和“孤独”这两个主题。Raintree 主要通过图像中的角色来诠释这些主题,这些角色的肩膀往往朝下耷拉着,蜷缩着身体或是有着其它看上去同样脆弱的姿势。有时候,这些主题也会令人联想到有关身份认同的更大的主题; 他所创作的角色都是类人生物,却像弗兰肯斯坦一样,通过想像,将不寻常的不同元素结合在一起。这些角色常常置身于格格不入的奇异环境当中。而这也可能是他的作品如此引人入胜的原因之一。这些怪物提醒着我们到底是谁——我们在本质上是由自己的经验组成的生物,我们都有一个共同愿望:迫切地想要融入和适应一个快速变化的世界,而这个世界有时候又令人感到十分的陌生。

Website: raintree1969.com
Flickr: ~/raintree1969
Instagram: @raintree1969

 

Contributor: David Yen


Website: raintree1969.com
Flickr: ~/raintree1969
Instagram: @raintree1969

 

Contributor: David Yen

Buzkashi

 

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Based out of Shanghai, Marc Ressang is a Dutch photographer and videographer whose recent travels took him to Tajikistan. There, he shot Buzkashi, a short film offering an intimate look into how one of the oldest and most violent sports in the world is played. Buzkashi, which roughly translates to “goat pulling” in Persian, is a highly dangerous sport. The fiercely competitive sport calls for players to undergo extensive amounts of training prior to ever competing. Imagine polo but with more aggression, more competitors swarming the field, and instead of using a ball, they opt for a decapitated – and often times eviscerated – goat carcass.


荷兰摄影师兼电影人Marc Ressang目前生活在上海,他最近到了塔吉克斯坦旅行。在那里,他拍摄了短片《Buzkashi》,近距离地观察当地的抢羊比赛“buzkashi”——世界上最古老和最暴力的体育项目之一。“Buzkashi”是波斯语,可以大概地翻译成“拉羊”,这项比赛的竞争异常激烈,且有一定的危险性,所以大多数选手在比赛开始之前都要先进行艰苦的训练。可以把这项比赛想像成更激烈的马球比赛,有更多的竞争者,而他们要抢的不是一个球,而一头通常被斩首(或已经取出内脏)了的羊的尸体。

While buzkashi can be traced back to nomadic Turkic tribes, its exact origins are up for debate. In modern times, it’s been established as the official national sport of Afghanistan. However, derivative forms of the sport have made its way out of the country, including a form of buzkashi in western China that’s played on yaks instead of horses. In Ressang’s short film, rather than the more structured, team-oriented playstyles seen in Afghanistan, he presents the most common playstyle of Tajikistan – a sprawling, chaotic free-for-all where individual riders attempt to wrestle control of the carcass and score a goal. Watch the stunning video in full above or scroll down to see more images from Ressang’s trip to Tajikistan.


虽然“buzkashi”可以追溯至游牧的突厥部落,但其确切的起源仍然有争议。在现代,阿富汗将其定为官方的民族体育运动。如今,这项运动已经被传至其它国家,衍生出不同的运动形式,譬如,在中国西部就有一种“buzkashi”是在牦牛而不是马背上进行的。在Ressang的短片中,他展示了塔吉克斯坦式的“buzkashi”,不同于在阿富汗看到的那种更有组织性、更注重团队的风格,在塔吉克斯坦,这项运动更混乱无序、无限制,选手单独参赛,争夺羊尸,以获得胜利。一起来观看这部引人入胜的短片,或欣赏更多Ressang在这趟塔吉克斯坦之行中所拍摄的照片。

Website: marcressang.com
Vimeo: ~/marcressang
Facebook: ~/MarcRessangPhotography
Instagram: @unioz

 

Contributor: David Yen


网站: marcressang.com
Vimeo: ~/marcressang
脸书: ~/MarcRessangPhotography
Instagram: @unioz

 

供稿人: David Yen

Makin’ Moves

 

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Following the transhumanism concepts of his past works, Japanese art director Kouhei Nakama is back with his latest video, Makin’ Moves. Departing from the aesthetics of DIFFUSION and CYCLE, the two other short videos of the series, Nakama wanted to make the latest installment more visually approachable. This decision comes from the fact that his past two videos had received decidedly mixed reactions; while most viewers were impressed by the stunning visuals, others found them to be rather disturbing. “I thought that the parts people found ‘shocking’ in those two videos might have hindered the message I originally wanted to convey,” Nakama explains.


日本艺术总监Kouhei Nakama曾在过去的作品中探讨超人类主义(transhumanism)的概念,现在,他又带来了最新的短片作品《Makin’ Moves》。同系列的前2部短片《DIFFUSION》和《CYCLE》在网上发布后,毁誉参半。有人认为它们视觉效果震撼,有人则觉得不适。而这次的全新短片一改前两部短片的美学风格,呈现了更轻快的风格。“我觉得在前两部短片中那些令观众‘震撼’的内容可能反而阻碍了我原本想要传达的信息。“Nakama解释说。

Nakama describes the subjects in this latest video as the “dance team of the future.” The humans (and one lone dog) in the video swirl and contort, with complete disregard for the laws of physics; pop and lock, splitting their anatomy in biologically impossible ways; and gyrate along to the rhythm, exploding into colorful fractals in sync with a hypnotic, pulsating track produced by BrokeForFree. Nakama tells us, “Please, don’t think too hard. Just enjoy the video!”


Nakama说最新短片的主题是“未来的舞蹈团队”。视频中的人(和一只孤独的狗)打破所有物理定律,不断旋转和扭曲;他们的身体在跳着机械舞的pop 和lock动作的同时,以超越生物学的方式不断分解;并跟着BrokeForFree迷幻、跃动的音乐节拍旋转、爆发出多彩的分形图案。Nakama 说:“不要想太多,好好享受这部短片就行!“

Website: kouheinakama.com
Vimeo: ~/kouheinakama
Behance: ~/kouheinakama
Instagram: @kouhei_nakama

 

Contributor: David Yen


网站: kouheinakama.com
Vimeo: ~/kouheinakama
Behance: ~/kouheinakama
Instagram: @kouhei_nakama

 

供稿人: David Yen

The Time is Now

ShanghaiPRIDE, the largest and longest enduring LGBTQ festival in China, is back, with this year’s festivities taking place between June 15th and June 18th. This year is the 9th edition of the annual event, and ShanghaiPRIDE is rallying the community around the theme of “The Time is Now,” which echoes the concept of carpe diem, encouraging people to seize the moment and take action. “We talk a lot about self-acceptance, love, and relationships. So, our team thought: we’re reaching our 10th festival – our events should inspire actions at a personal level,” explains Raymond Phang, co-founder of ShanghaiPRIDE. “If not now, then when?”


上海骄傲节(ShanghaiPRIDE)是中国国内最大型、成立最久的LGBTQ节日。今年,第九届上海骄傲节庆祝活动将于6月15日至6月18日举行,本次活动以“The Time is Now”为主题,倡导及时行乐的态度,鼓励人们抓住时机,行动起来。上海骄傲节的联合创始人Raymond Phang 解释:“我们谈论过很多关于自我接受、爱和情感关系的话题,所以我们团队就想,在第十届节日到来之际,我们应该更多地鼓励个人层面上的行动。如果不趁现在,那还要等到什么时候呢?”

While it’s true that China isn’t outspokenly against same-sex relationships, a fairly conservative mentality is still the norm when it comes to sexuality, especially for the older generation. But with the recent same-sex marriage ruling in Taiwan, it’s clear that people in the region are beginning to embrace love in all forms. It’s optimistic that this attitude shift will motivate more places in the region to join in on the conversation, and with time, abandon their outdated ideologies around relationships and marriages. Beaming with confidence, Phang says, “When people know more and understand more, they will know how similar we are as humans.” To help promote awareness and teach tolerance, ShanghaiPRIDE has invited different representatives from the LGBT community – both couples and individuals – to speak up this year by having them share their personal stories and explain what “The Time is Now” means to them.


尽管在中国,社会没有公开反对同性恋,但是对于性取向问题,大部分人还是持相对保守的心态,特别是老一辈的人。但是,随着最近台湾同性婚姻的合法化,人们显然已经开始以各种形式接纳多元化的爱情。可以乐观地认为,这种态度的转变将会激励更多的人关注这一问题,然后逐渐地抛弃他们对情感关系和婚姻那些过时的想法。Raymond Phang 很有信心的说:“当人们了解得更多,他们就会明白到,我们和他们一样,没什么不同。”为了提高公众意识,推广宽容的态度,上海骄傲节今年邀请了LGBT群体中的不同代表(包括伴侣和个人), 让他们发表讲话,分享自己的故事,以及他们眼中“The Time is Now”的意义。

Justine: When I came back from Vancouver, I was surprised that people around me still have biases and discriminate against the LGBTQ community. That’s why I decided to stand up. We met at the gym, and then later again at an event with some friends. The serendipity of it is why I treasure our relationship so much. The Time is Now to eliminate discrimination!

Daphnee: My mom is very conservative, but she still loves me after I came out. It was love at first sight when I saw Justine. I feel comfortable sharing myself selflessly when I am with her. Plus, I believe only I can stand her bad temper. The Time is Now to be your true self!


Justine: 从温哥华回来才发现自己身边的人对LGBTQ社群还有很大的偏见和歧视,所以想站出来。我和她是在健身房里初识,在朋友聚会中重逢,所以格外珍惜这缘分和彼此的默契。The Time is Now 消除歧视!

Daphnee: 我的母亲非常保守,但她在知道我的性倾向后依然很疼爱我。遇见她时就一见钟情,因为她让我能毫无保留的分享自己,而且也只有我会忍受她的坏脾气吧。The Time is Now 做真实的自己!

Sunny: As far as I can remember, I have always liked boys. For the past ten years, I felt that society has been more open-minded and people are more inclusive. When he is around me, I am me. The Time is Now to love who you love!

Xiaoxiong: When I met him six years ago, I could feel that he will be the one. Last year, we went to Greece for vacation; the Aegean Sea was more beautiful with him by my side. The Time is Now to embrace diversity!


Sunny: 从有意识开始,我就喜欢男生。过去十年里,我觉得社会更开放了,而人们也逐渐地更包容。有他的时候,我是最轻松,最自在的那个我。The Time is Now 选你所爱!

小熊: 六年前在武汉认识他,觉得他就是那个对的人。还记得去年一起去希腊旅游,爱琴海有他变得更美丽。The Time is Now 拥抱多元!

Evie: Many think that being bisexual is just being greedy, or that I will follow the mainstream values and select the opposite sex as partners sooner or later. But, my affection is regardless of gender. It is about trust, care, and growing together. Gender is secondary. The Time is Now to love fearlessly!


Evie: 很多人会以为双性恋是贪心的,亦或有顺应社会主流价值观的选择。我的爱只不过是不分性别。爱一个人,是信任、是寄托、是一起成长,性别才是次要的。The Time is Now 勇敢爱!

Annin: Since I was young, I thought that everyone was the same, but as I grew older, gender became restrictions. At my college graduation ceremony, I took off my disguise, showing the world who I really am. Staying true to myself, I became happier. The Time is Now to be who you are!


Annin: 从小我就觉得人与人之间没有区别。但是成长的过程中,性别的隔阂成为了生命的束缚。大学毕业典礼上,我卸下伪装,用真实的自己去面对世界。真实地面对自己,真实而快乐。The Time is Now 成为你想要的!

Website: shpride.com
Facebook: ~/ShanghaiPride

 

Contributor: David Yen
Campaign Creative: Neocha
Photographer: Adam J. Schokora


网站: shpride.com
脸书: ~/ShanghaiPride

 

供稿人: David Yen
项目创意: Neocha
摄影师: Adam J. Schokora

Da Bei Universe

From the spread of Buddhism into China’s Central Plain during the Han Dynasty to the legendary pilgrimage of the Buddhist monk and scholar Xuan Zang’s during the Tang Dynasty, Buddhism is deeply steeped in the culture and history of not only China, but Asia as a whole. As the Chinese saying goes, “Where there’s a mountain, there will be a temple,” and even to this day, this still holds true. In Chinese, the word fo means Buddha. But for Xiamen-based artist Da Bei Yu Zhou (a moniker that’s based on a wordplay of the famous Da Bei Zhou, otherwise known as the Great Compassion Mantra, which is one of the most well-known Buddhist hymns), his use of “fo” in Chinese isn’t referring to the actual Buddha but is being used interchangeably with the term buddharupa, a word used to refer to visual depictions of Buddha. These portrayals of Buddha dominate the majority of Da Bei’s work in the form of 3D renderings. To him, “fo” represents meditation and self-reflection, a higher level of consciousness. We recently met up with Da Bei for a chat to try and better understand what his “fo” statues represent to him.


自两汉时期佛教传入中原,到玄奘西天取经,至今佛对亚洲各国的影响不容小觑,俗话说有山的地方就有庙,现如今还是如此。“仏”一般被解释为佛像的意思,厦门3D艺术家大悲宇宙认为,“仏”是觉悟和思考的化身,是人类更高级的一种形态。他的作品主要是3D的佛像作品,而通过与他的谈话或许能够明白些他眼中的“仏”。

Neocha: In some of your recent works, you’re mixing Buddha statues with elements of science fiction and presenting it in a 3D format. It’s quite unique. What inspired you to do this?

Da Bei: I see many parallels between the concept of buddhas and scientific technology. For example, the concept of emptiness in Buddism and virtual reality. Through technology and the internet, we’ve reached a point where we now have access to an unbelievable pool of information that we couldn’t fathom having access to in the past. Even though we’re still quite far from reaching the level of the omniscience of Buddha, but the idiom, “Lay down butcher’s knife, become a Buddha on the spot,” feels more like a prophecy now. By eliminating ignorance and tapping into the collective wisdom of mankind, an act that technology has made possible, perhaps one day we can become buddhas ourselves.


Neocha: 你最近在做的作品,是将“仏”与科幻相结合,用3D的方式来呈现,这一点挺特别的,最初是怎么想到要这么做的?

大悲: 我理解的“仏”和科学技术有很多相同的地方,比如虚拟的数字与“仏”的空性,如今通过电脑终端和互联网使我们目前达到人类获取信息前所未有的形态,虽然离“仏”的遍知万事万物似乎还有些距离,但现在“放下屠刀立地成佛”这句话现在看来更像是预言,放弃鲁莽无知运用众人智慧通过科学技术我们或许有一天能够成为我们所说的“仏”

Neocha: 3D artworks are generally focused around realism and are most often seen in animated films and T.V. shows or video games. But I notice that in some of your works, there are elements that feel closer to Chinese freehand painting. Was this done on purpose? Is there any relationship between this and your illustrative works?

Da Bei: 3D is mesmerizing. In a 3D world, you have access to a virtual space with infinite room and infinite resources. You can produce rays of light and design every molecule. This kind of experience that’s completely detached from reality is beautiful. So why would I try to forcibly create something realistic in this virtual world? When I have an entire virtual universe in the palm of my hands, why would I abide by the laws of reality to bring my vision to life? To dream of reality in a virtual world is a sad thing to me. And actually, I abandoned traditional illustrations completely when I started working in with 3D.


Neocha: 3D作品本身都是写实为主,用于动画影视和游戏行业较多,但我发现你的作品中却都有着中国画般写意的意境,你是刻意为之的吗?这与你的绘画作品是不是又有着什么关系呢?

大悲: 我觉得3D真的很迷人,在里面你能够有虚拟的无限空间和无限物质,你能够支配每道光甚至每个粒子,那种完全抽离现实的体验真的很美好,那为什么我还要在这样的虚拟里去创造写实的世界呢?反过来说“当我手握着虚拟世界为什么还在现实里用物理媒介去创造我的想象?”所以在虚拟世界里做着写实的梦对于我来说是一件特别悲哀的事情,与此同时在我用3D进行创作的时候我也彻底放弃了绘画。

Neocha: You’ve also created many 3D works of Chinese courtyards, but with the addition of many metallic elements. It creates this incredible sense of futurism juxtaposed against these traditional structures. Can you tell us more about these works?

Da Bei: Besides my “fo” statues, I’m quite fond of traditional Chinese floral design and landscaping. If Buddha is an omniscience of self, then my works around floral arrangements represent a yearning for changes in space and time. In traditional Chinese culture, there’s always been an appreciation for decadence and laziness. There’s a beauty in it. This kind of beauty disregards all other notions of human nature, from death to love. I find it incredibly interesting; just think about that, it transcends the existence of death and love. So through my digital art, which is virtual and eternal, I’m making flowers that will never wither and statues of Buddha that will never age. This is my attempt at presenting my interpretation of this surreal sense of beauty.


Neocha: 你还做了很多中式庭院景观的3D作品,运用了很多金属质感,营造出一种难以言喻的科幻感,对于这些作品你又是怎么想的呢?

大悲: 除了“仏”以外我还特别喜欢传统的盆栽和造景,如果说“仏”是人对自己全知全能的向往,那盆栽和造景就是对时空转换的渴望。中国传统文化里我觉得一直有一种特别颓废慵懒的美,这种美,目空人性的一切,死亡、情爱都不值一提,所以这真的是太妙了,是超越了死亡和情爱的存在。所以我用虚拟永恒的数字艺术,去创造不枯萎的花、不老的仏像,去诠释着这种抽离现实的美

Neocha: What is your creation process like? From modeling to rendering, the process must be quite time consuming. Can you tell us about some of the challenges you’ve faced in doing digital art?

Da Bei: In terms of technique, it’s not particularly difficult, and I also don’t feel like the process is especially time consuming. The computer handles most of the work. The difficulty I face is within myself. I’m a living organism that succumbs to fatigue and ailments, so these are factors that could hinder the creation process. The fragile nature of the human body is the greatest difficulty.


Neocha: 你的创作流程是怎么样的呢?从建模到渲染的过程一定是很漫长吧?跟我说说你遇到的困难有哪些吧?

大悲: 技术上并不困难创作时间也并不漫长,毕竟计算机已经承担了大多数工作。难的是我,是血肉之躯,作息和偶尔的病痛都是阻扰创作和思考的原因,肉体的脆弱和消耗是最大的困难。

Neocha: You’ve tried to sell your work by putting them onto SD cards. It’s an interesting idea. What inspired you to do this?

Da Bei: Multimedia art and digital art are uniquely beautiful in their own ways. I feel like if the work is displayed on a monitor, then it can be categorized as digital multimedia art. Everybody feels differently about these works. In Teary Buddha 90 Minutes, I show a 3D rendering of Buddha on the brink of tears. It lasts 5,400 seconds and is accompanied by the sound of ocean waves; the image is also constantly rotating and changing colors. The Buddha here represents order, it’s an embodiment of logic. But the tears in his eyes, that don’t quite fall, represents existence. For the rotations, when he’s facing you, his color is a resplendent gold; when his side is facing you, he becomes silver; and when his back is facing you, it’s the color of loneliness, a dark black. It’s a patterned visual but doesn’t adhere to any rhythm. When people watch this, I want them to experience different emotions. And to do this using digital data – emotionless bits of an algorithm – this is what I find to be most interesting.


Neocha: 你还在尝试将3D作品导入SD卡然后进行售卖,这个方式倒是挺有趣的,你对这样的方式有什么看法呢?

大悲: 多媒体艺术、数字艺术有着特别独特的美,我觉得只要是通过屏幕展示的作品都是广义上的数字多媒体艺术,每个人对这些作品的感受都不尽相同,在我的《泪目菩萨90分钟》里就是一个眼角挂泪的3D菩萨,在5400秒的海浪声里,不停的旋转变换材质颜色。菩萨代表的是秩序是理智的化身,但是眼角不掉落的眼泪是反秩序是感性的存在,在旋转的时候面对你是灿烂的金色,当他侧对你时是无暇的白色,背对你时又是孤独的黑色 ,就在这样的有序规律和没有任何节奏的影像里,你在看他的时候似乎也能产生出很多不同的感情,而这一切的由来都只是纯粹的数据,没有感情的数据,可想而知这是多么有趣。

A shortened version of Teary Buddha 90 Minutes / 缩短版本的《泪目菩萨90分钟》

 

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Neocha: When it comes to the exhibition of 3D works, what are your thoughts? There are still limitations on works that are inkjet printed and framed. In the future, maybe VR will come into play? What do you plan on working on next?

Da Bei: Yup, I’ve constantly thought about how to best display my work. Not only VR, I hope that we can reach a point where people will be able to directly upload data into their brains. I’ll still be adhering to the themes that I’ve been working with, which are, of course, the concept of “fo” along with my interest in Asian floral design. I’ve also developed an interest in glitch art recently; I’m looking forward to experimenting with this in the future.


Neocha: 对于3D作品的展示,你有什么想法么?毕竟做成喷绘然后装裱展示的方式还是有很大的局限性的,或许未来可以用到VR设备?接下去还会带来什么样的作品?

大悲: 是的,对于怎么去更好的展示作品也是我一直在思考的,不仅是VR吧,希望以后能够直接数据入脑。基本上还是会持续的在盆栽造景和“仏”的主题上去做拓展,最近迷上了乱码,故障艺术也是我特别喜欢的,希望有机会能够好好尝试一些。

Behance: ~/dabeiyuzhou
Tumblrdabeiyuzhou.tumblr.com
Weibo~/dabeiyuzhou
Instagram: @dabeiyuzhou

 

Contributor: Sonic Yuan


Behance: ~/dabeiyuzhou
Tumblrdabeiyuzhou.tumblr.com
微博~/dabeiyuzhou
Instagram: @dabeiyuzhou

 

Contributor: Sonic Yuan

Higher Brothers

From left to right: Masiwei, Dzknow, Melo, Psy. P / 左到右: 马思维, Dzknow, Melo, Psy. P

Meet the Higher Brothers, four young rappers who have emerged to become the new face of Chinese hip-hop, or more specifically, the face of Chinese trap music. Based out of Chengdu, aka the “Dirty South” of China, the four-man rap crew – comprised of Masiwei, Dzknow, Psy. P, and Melo – is hungrily ambitious, working with a vicious determination towards their vision of elevating China’s hip-hop scene onto a global level.


说唱组合Higher Brothers由四位年轻的中国说唱歌手组成,他们代表了华人嘻哈音乐的全新时代,或者更具体地说,他们是中国trap音乐的代表。来自成都的Higher Brothers,四位成员分别为马思唯Dzknow, Psy. P, 和 Melo,他们雄心勃勃,决心让中国的嘻哈音乐更具国际化的水平。

 

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Take a listen to some select tracks from Higher Brother’s upcoming album below:

 Higher Brothers – Made in China

 Higher Brothers – 711


下面是Higher Brothers的几首精选歌曲:

 Higher Brothers – Made in China

 Higher Brothers – 711

In a country where the airwaves have long been dominated by sappy pop ballads, the Higher Brothers’ signature Chengdu-flavored trap sound is a disruptive force to be reckoned with. But even with having established their name beyond the Great Firewall – lauding props from hip-hop heads around the world in spite of the language barrier – they’re still a relatively underground act in the country, barring a devoted following in their hometown of Chengdu. On Youku and Tencent Videos, China’s answers to the now-blocked YouTube, their accumulated video views remain in the tens of thousands. Meanwhile, on YouTube, they’ve already amassed over four million views across their videos in the past few months alone. “We’re still lagging behind,” Masiwei says. “It’s still hard for people in China to access the latest and freshest music. And even when they are able to access it, they might not be willing to give it a chance because it sounds unconventional.”


在中国,多愁善感的流行音乐占据主流,Higher Brothers的标志性成都味的trap音乐打破了这种局面,是一股不可忽视的新生力量。凭借独特的曲风,他们的音乐跨越了防火墙的限制和语言的障碍,获得了来自全球嘻哈音乐爱好者的赞赏。然而,虽说在国际上已获得一定程度的关注,但他们的音乐在中国来说还尚属地下音乐,只在家乡成都拥有一批忠实歌迷。他们在优酷与腾讯视频上的MV观看量甚至远不及在国外视频网站 YouTube上的观看量。过去几个月的时间内,他们在Youtube已经获得超过400万的观看次数。聊起中国当下的音乐行业,马思唯说:“我们相对还是脚步落后。在这里,很难接触到新鲜的东西 。即使他们听到了新鲜东西也不太愿意接受。”

Prior to the formation of the Higher Brothers, the four rappers were already well-respected members of the Chengdu Rap House (CDC), a renowned Chinese rap collective. In January of 2016, they decided to form their own four-man rap crew under the CDC umbrella, and just two months later, in March, they released a 19-track, self-titled mixtape, a mixtape that set the foundation for their signature Sichuan trap sound. Despite local success, their big break didn’t happen until Howie Lee of Beijing’s Do Hits Records played a track off their mixtape at a party, catching the attention of the Asia-focused media platform 88rising. “We started chatting with 88rising after that,” Masiwei recalls. “Not long after, our good friend Bohan Phoenix flipped them the music video for our new song ‘Black Cab,’ and we’ve been working together ever since.” The 88rising YouTube channel has since started debuting exclusive new tracks from the young rappers, thrusting them in front of an international audience alongside other Asian rap powerhouses like Rich Chigga and Keith Ape. “The number of fans who love our music and the number of haters who hate our music have both gone up,” Melo says. “But it’s dope that more and more people are listening.”


在成立Higher Brothers之前,他们四人已经是国内有名的说唱团体——成都说唱会馆(CDC)的成员。在2016年1月,他们决定成立自己的四人说唱组合。仅仅两个月之后,也就是2016年3月,Higher Brothers就推出了首张19首曲目的mixtape,奠定了他们四川Trap的独特音乐风格。尽管在当地大获成功,但直到北京电子音乐厂牌 Do Hits的Howie Lee 在一次派对上播放了他们混音专辑中的音乐,并引起了专注于亚洲的媒体平台88rising的注意,他们才获得真正的突破。马思唯回忆道:“在那之后,我们就开始和88rising搭上了线。然后我们的好朋友Bohan又给88推荐了我们当时的新MV《Black Cab》,我们就和他们展开合作了。”自此之后,88rising的YouTube频道便开始定期独家发布Higher Brothers的新歌,将他们与像Rich Chigga和Keith Ape这样的亚洲说唱巨头的一起推广给全球的听众。Melo笑着说:“作品有更多人关注,喜欢和不喜欢我们的人明显增多。”

Even with global recognition and much hype leading up to their debut LP, the group acknowledges that their work is far from over, especially in China. Psy. P says, “To be successful, it’s important to never be satisfied.” Nodding, Dzknow adds, “Being successful is all about doing what others see as impossible.” And at times, when considering how the musical taste of Chinese locals have been shaped over decades, it might indeed seem like an impossible task to introduce their unorthodox sound into the mainstream. But for the four young rappers, their aspirations of validating hip-hop culture in China is just as important to them as bringing Chinese hip-hop to rest of the world.


即使他们的首张 LP获得了大量宣传和获得了全球的认可,但Higher Brothers觉得,他们离目标还很远,特别是在中国。Psy. P 说:“要取得成功,关键是永远不要满足。”Dzknow 点头表示同意,他补充说:“成功就是完成不能完成的任务。”中国人们现在的音乐品味已经经过了几十年的塑造才形成的,这样来看,要将他们的trap 音乐带入主流,的确像是一个不可能的任务。对这四位充满激情的说唱歌手来说,比起让他们自己或他们的音乐更知名,更重要的目标是最终将嘻哈文化变成中国的主流文化之一。

The upcoming album, Black Cab, is a fitting showcase of the group’s versatility and entertaining personas. From their title track “Black Cab,” a visceral, Sichuan dialect-laced trap anthem, to “7-11,” their sensual ode to the convenience store chain, it’s easy to hear a more refined and well-developed sound out of the four when compared to their mixtape from just a year prior. With an ever-growing global audience, their initial plan to release a short five-track EP has also changed. Masiwei says. “We now have 14 tracks. With this album, we want the world to see what the Higher Brothers are all about. We on some worldwide shit.” Black Cab drops on May 31st. Click here to pre-order now on iTunes.


他们即将推出的全新专辑出色体现了这个组合的多元风格和有趣的个性。从融入四川方言的trap风格歌曲《Black Cab》,到他们以7-11便利店为主题打造的歌曲 《7-11》,不难发现,他们的音乐比起一年前的mixtape更加成熟。随着他们在全球范围内的听众越来越多,他们也改变了原来仅推出含五首歌曲的EP的计划。马思唯说:“我们现在有十四首歌。这张专辑真正实现了Higher Brothers 环游世界。We on some worldwide shit。” 《Black Cab》专辑将于5月31日登陆iTunes商店,请点击这里进行预购。

Instagram: @higherbrothers
Weibo~/HigherBrothersWorldWide

 

Contributor: David Yen
Photographers: Adam J. Schokora, David Yen
Video Courtesy of 88rising


Instagram: @higherbrothers
微博~/HigherBrothersWorldWide

 

供稿人: David Yen
摄影师: Adam J. Schokora, David Yen
视频由88rising提供

A Tender Sadness

Nowadays, it’s all too common to see a piece of artwork get passed around the internet without any credits attached to the creator. One particular artist who often encounters this issue is sheep, a Chinese illustrator who purposefully stylizes his moniker with a lowercase “s.” But unlike most other artists, sheep doesn’t particularly mind – he’s more concerned with making art than the recognition that follows. His illustrations are peculiar; they’re beautifully illustrated, but the beauty is layered with a sense of melancholy and unease. The characters of sheep’s world are often depicted in their most vulnerable state, but they still remain eager on sharing their untold stories.


有些作品大家都看过却未必清楚知晓作者出处,sheep大概就是这样一个插画师,默默地画着自己的画,默默地做着自己的人形,他的插画不算明媚也没有正能量,却是另一种黑暗又悲伤的细腻美,敏感纤弱的人物都仿佛诉说着关于自己的故事。

On first glance, some of sheep’s work might reveal hints of a Japanese influence behind the aesthetic. He explains, saying that one of his biggest inspirations is Hyakki Yagyo, a Japanese folklore about a night where a hundred different demons roam the streets, but his influences actually come from other sources that extend beyond Japanese culture, such as the fictitious worlds depicted in the Chinese books Classic of Mountains and Seas and In Search of the Supernatural. “When I was still a student, the works of a few Japanese manga artists really resonated with me,” he says. “So in terms of the technique and subjects I experimented with back then, it was influenced by Japanese culture. But for my newer works, I never stop and think if anything feels Japanese or Chinese – I’m simply interested in creating art with an overall Eastern aesthetic, art that transcends the boundaries of time and geography.”


初见sheep的作品,很容易感受到一种日式氛围,但他的作品中的灵感来源也不仅仅来自日本百鬼,还有更多《山海经》和《搜神记》中的志怪传说。“早期学生时代会因为跟日本一些画家的作品产生共鸣感,所以技法和题材上会有意识在所谓的日式审美做尝试。反倒现在我创作的时候,也不会刻意去预设这是日式的,这是中式的概念了,就是整体的、我个人所想表达的东方的东西,无时代性和地域性。”就这个问题他如是说。

As we discussed his background and initial interest with Japanese culture, sheep shared that one of his favorite fairy tales as a child was Mimei Ogawa’s The Mermaid and the Red Candles. The story is about a baby mermaid that was left at a shrine and discovered by an old couple from a seaside village who never had children of their own. The couple, who ran a candlemaking business, took the mermaid in and raised her. As the mermaid grew up, she helped the family business by drawing pictures of the ocean on the candles. Soon, these drawing made their candles quite famous in the area. Rumors about good luck blessing those who bought and lit her candles at the nearby shrine began to spread, leading to more people buying the candles. Hearing these rumors, a businessman convinced the couple that mermaids were bad luck and bought the mermaid from them. After, he locked in the mermaid in a cage and quickly left with her on a ship. On the same night, a violent storm sunk the ship. From that point on, the couple’s candles became a symbol of bad luck. All of the fishermen who bought the candles in the past all suffered an ill fate. Their candle business soon ended. Not many years later, the city became deserted, eventually turning to ruins. Legend has it now, fishermen passing by the ruins of the town would sometimes see a faintly glowing red candlelight drifting around the shrine.


说到这里,我们又跟他聊了聊他最初对日本文化的了解,sheep跟我们分享了一个他小时候看的童话故事-小川未明的《红蜡烛与人鱼》:大概内容是说一条向往人类世界的人鱼,将自己刚出生的女儿送往了海边的神社。小人鱼被海边渔村一对没有儿女的老夫妇遇见收养。老夫妇靠卖蜡烛为生,人鱼姑娘长大后对大海充满憧憬,开始在蜡烛上画画,使老夫妇的红蜡烛名声远扬,成为出海人祈福的象征,神社香火也旺了起来。有一江湖商人闻此消息,欲重金买走人鱼姑娘,说人鱼是不祥之物。老夫妇迷失心窍,点头同意。商人把人鱼姑娘关在笼中,装运到海上。结果当晚雷雨暴风,巨浪滔天,货船沉没。从此,老夫妇的蜡烛成为灾祸之物,买过的渔民出海无一幸免,生意也再做不下去了。没过几年,山脚下那座小镇就成了一片废墟,不存在了。之后偶尔会有出海的人看到海上隐约的烛光一直飘到废墟神社前。

The Mermaid and the Red Candles doesn’t have a happy ending or a sense closure. There’s no repentance or redemption, but it does leave plenty of room for personal interpretations. And in a way, it’s similar to sheep’s artwork now, which all have concisely constructed narratives that still leave much to the imagination of viewers. In Narcissus, sheep’s latest compilation book of his recent works, he even features an illustration based on Ogawa’s story.


这个故事没有一般令人欣慰的圆满结尾,也没有十分需要令人悔改的警醒,但最后的一抹烛光却格外引人遐思,大概这也就像sheep现在的插画一样,说一个点到为止的故事,他的作品集《水仙》中也以绘本的形式诠释了这个故事。

Despite sheep’s impressive illustrative works, his interests and skills have gone beyond illustration alone. He originally comes from a background in ceramic design and has always been infatuated with sculpting. Eager to break the constraint of mediums, he began learning how to make sculptures and figurines by himself. His White Deer sculpture is even based off an earlier illustration of his. As part of the project, he also enlisted the help of photographer Ko Rou, to stage and set up a variety of scenes with the completed figurine.


陶瓷专业出身的sheep对人形和雕塑都很有兴趣,因为不想局限于平面创作,他也制作了自己的人形,靠他自己一点点耐心的自学,白鹿童子也从的画作里活化而出,他还与摄影师扣桑合作,完成了这组人形照片。

As our discussion meandered and we began chatting about the movie Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, sheep comments that he believes art often conveys messages that surpass the original intent of the work. “Creation is like eating. It’s to satisfy an appetite. Completing an idea gives you an unparalleled sense of gratification. When I’m creating, I don’t immediately define what concepts or ideas I want to convey through it. When other people view my work, they might be looking at an authentic piece of my soul, but to them, it could be completely meaningless.”


跟sheep聊到押井守的《无罪》,他觉得作品也会像这样传达一些超越内容本身的东西,“其实很多创作就跟本能吃饭等一样,是一种类似快感的欲望,完成脑中所想的这件事会带来不可替代的幸福感,所以我不会特别预设自己是要传达什么意义或者想法,其他人看到作品就是当时我所脱壳出的一部分我,反而他们其实某种层面来说是没有意义的。”

Weibo: ~/ssheepp

 

Contributor: Shou Xing
Images Courtesy of sheep & Ko Rou


微博: ~/ssheepp

 

供稿人: Shou Xing
图片由sheep与扣桑提供