Tag Archives: art

Deciphering the Human Experience

Born in Taipei and raised in Shanghai, Jocelyn Tsaih is an illustrator, animator, and designer currently based in New York City. Her artistic style is defined by a distinct, minimalist approach that’s complemented by her quirky sense of humor.

More often than not, Tsaih’s work features a mysterious, amorphous character that’s meant to embody the various facets of modern life. The character, initially based on a stick figure, evolved as a way for Tsaih to convey abstract concepts derived from her own experiences.

在台北出生,在上海长大的 Jocelyn Tsaih 目前长居在纽约,是一名插画家和设计师。她的作品风格简约,且充满着古怪的幽默感。

Jocelyn 的大部分作品里会出现一个神秘的、不定形的角色,意在表达现代生活的方方面面。而这个角色最初是她以火柴人为原型创作的,后来演变成她从自己的经历中传达抽象概念的一种方式。

“It sounds kind of cheesy, but I started drawing it as a way to express my internal conflicts and to represent anything human,” she shares. “As I explored different ways of conveying what I was feeling, I started to use the figure in ways that are more abstract. I think my thought process is that even though we are human, a lot of things about us are intangible, like emotions and feelings.”

“虽然听起来有点俗气,但我一开始画这个角色是为了抒发内心的冲突,表达关于人类的一切。” Jocelyn 说,“随着我尝试用不同的方式来传达自己的感受,我也开始用更抽象的方式来表现这个火柴人。我的想法是,作为人类,很多关于我们的事情都是无形的,譬如情感和感觉。”

Tsaih currently works at WeWork as a full-time graphic designer and illustrator. Outside of her full-time job, she’s equally busy with a constant juggling act between personal and freelance projects. She’s already accumulated an impressive list of clients including Adobe Photoshop, Condé Nast, Nickelodeon, Tictail, and GIPHY. But despite her professional accomplishments, there was a time when Tsaih felt uncertain about her future as an artist. As a teenager, many of her peers discouraged her desire to pursue a career in the arts. It was only after a period of self-doubt and confusion that she decided to trust her own judgment: “I believed that art was valuable, and I pushed myself because I didn’t want people’s skewed perceptions to be validated.”

Jocelyn 目前作为一名全职平面设计师和插画家任职于共享办公空间 WeWork。不上班的时候,她会去创作自己的个人项目和自由职业项目,她曾经合作过的客户里包括 Adobe Photoshop、康泰纳仕集团(Condé Nast)、美国儿童节目频道 Nickelodeon,以及 Tictail 和 GIPHY 网站。虽然如今在事业上获得成功,但曾经有一段时间,Jocelyn 也不确定自己是否真的能成为一名艺术家。十几岁的时候,她的许多同龄人都不鼓励她去追求艺术事业。在经过一段时间的自我怀疑和困惑之后,她才终于决定相信自己的判断:“我相信艺术是有价值的,我不断推动自己去努力,是因为我不希望证明人们扭曲的看法是对的。”

For Jocelyn, creativity comes from being open-minded; it comes from a willingness to dive head first into new experiences, whether it’s interacting with different people or being in an unfamiliar environment. She tells us, “A lot of my work represents my reaction to things, so the more experiences I have, the more ideas I’ll have to turn into drawings.” These days, she’s begun dabbling with ceramics and paintings – processes that, for her, require a lot more time and deeper reflection on the underlying concepts she intends to explore. Patience is a fundamental part of her creative process. “90% of the time is spent thinking an idea over and 10% of the time is spent making the actual work,” she explains, “The final result often looks simple, but it usually takes a long time for me to get to that point, although I know it doesn’t look like it.”

对于 Jocelyn 来说,创意来自于开放的心态和尝试新事物的经历,或是与不同的人互动,或是置身于异国的环境中。她告诉我们:“我的许多作品都表达了我对事物的反应,所以,我的经历越丰富,我才能有越来越多的想法来创作成画。”近来,她一直在涉猎陶瓷和绘画,对她来说,这些艺术创作过程需要花大量的时间对作品内在概念进行反思。Jocelyn 表示,耐心是她创作过程的关键。她解释说:“ 90% 的时间是花在思考上面的,只有 10% 的时间才是花在实际的创作中。最终的作品看起来很简单,但我其实需要很长的时间才能画出来,虽然我知道它看起来不像。”

After six years in New York City, Tsaih is now planning a move to San Francisco in the coming year. She sees this as an opportunity to explore a new environment and experience a change of pace. She shares with us, “Having come from Shanghai to New York, I feel like I’ve only known how to live in very stimulating, fast-paced environments. It might be a little challenging to shift to a slower pace of life, and I might end up hating it, but I hope some good things will come out of the experience either way!”

在纽约生活了六年后,Jocelyn 计划在新的一年搬到旧金山,体验新的环境,转换一下生活节奏。她说:“从上海来到纽约,我觉得自己好像只在紧张刺激、快节奏的环境里生活过。要转变到一种较慢的生活节奏,可能会有点挑战性,甚至我可能最终会讨厌这种生活。但我希望不管怎样,都能在这次经历中取得一些好的收获。”

Instagram: @jocelyntsaih


Contributor: George Zhi Zhao
Photographer: Nick Korompilas

Instagram: @jocelyntsaih


供稿人: George Zhi Zhao
摄影师: Nick Korompilas

Bendang Studio

At the edge of the quiet, unassuming village of Kampung Sungai Petai, a half-hour drive out of the rich historic hub of Malacca, lies Bendang Studio, a contemporary ceramics workshop that is making waves in the industry. Having started from humble beginnings, its founder Rozana Musa has developed her own brand and a style of tableware ceramics that’s now highly sought after in Malaysia. Not complacent in entrepreneurial success alone, Musa aspires to mold and fire the Malaysian ceramics scene into a new era.

双溪大年(Sungai Petani)是距离马来西亚历史文化中心马六甲一个半小时车程的村庄,在这个平静的村郊地区,就坐落着Bendang工作室——这就是在业界掀起了不小波澜的当代陶艺工作室。工作室创始人Rozana Musa从零开始,成立了自己的陶瓷餐具品牌,形成自己的独特风格,塑造且推动了马来西亚的陶瓷产业进入一个全新的时代。

Musa’s initial encounter with ceramics came early in her childhood when she unwittingly stumbled upon the core ingredient of ceramics – clay. As a child, she often played with the carmine, clay-rich mud on the riverbank, behind her grandmother’s Malaccan home, sculpting skyscrapers and drawing shapes in the sand and silt. Little did she know, this childhood pastime of hers would translate to a deep-seated love for ceramics in her adulthood. Now, rather than building transient sculptures in the sand, she creates intricate ceramics with a touch of modern flair.


At Musa’s studio, each piece starts off as a specially tailored clay mixture, containing a blend of silica, feldspar, kaolinite and a slew of other minerals. Then, depending on the particular piece, the clay will either be cast in a mold, shaped by hand on a pottery wheel, or cast and then finished off by hand. The product from the shaping process is then left to dry for several hours before being baked in a kiln at 840°C for six hours through a process known as biscuit firing. The brittle “biscuits” are then cooled for a day before being colored with a glaze through a subsequent firing process at 1100°C for eight hours. All the recipes for the glaze are developed by Musa and her team, using metal oxides such as cobalt, copper, sodium, and calcium as dyes. Though each piece is somewhat planned, Musa admits she and her team often improvise on the fly, especially when they’re struck by moments of artistic inspiration.

在Rozana的工作室,每一件作品都是用专门定制的粘土混合物制成的,需要通过复杂的配方,将硅土、长石、高岭土和其它矿物混合而成。然后,根据不同的创作理念,将这些粘土或盖上模具定型,或在轮盘上进行手工拉坯,或先用模具定型,再手工处理完成。定型之后,这些陶坯需要先被放置风干,再放到一个840℃的陶瓷窑里焙烧6 个小时,这个工序被称为“素烧”(biscuit firing)。素烧好后的坯体需要冷却一天,然后施釉,再经历一次烧制工序,这一次需要在1100℃下焙烧8小时。所有釉彩的配方都是Rozana和她的团队亲自研究出来的,采用的是钴、铜、钠和钙等金属氧化物作为染料。虽然每件陶瓷作品都是按照预定设计制作的,但当灵感突然闪现的时候,Rozana说她和团队也经常会即兴发挥。

This free, unshackled approach can be seen throughout her studio – a splash of cobalt blue on an ivory plate, a shimmering gold brushstroke on the lip of a teacup, an embossed batik print on a china tray. Even her studio itself exudes this sense of unbridled freedom; The airy, glass-fronted facade, the high ceilings and brick walls painted in hues of white, the plates and bowls haphazardly stacked on low tables, all the while her cats sashay around the displays, jumping from table to table, weaving in between the dishware, while her apprentices, Nisa and Aliah, work with quiet focus and intent at their pottery wheels.

Browsing through her wares, one gets the sense no two pieces of Musa’s ceramics are the same. Each of her creations has its own beauty, its own flaws, and its own identity. At first glance, they all seem too beautiful to use, but their beauty belies a utilitarian sturdiness. Perhaps this combination of beauty and utility is the driving factor behind the surge of demand for her line of ceramics, so much so that she’s now often booked up months in advance with order requests from renowned restaurants throughout Malaysia, and even some from Paris and Japan!



Despite Musas’ current success, her road to where she is was wrought with challenges. Like most young Malaysians, pursuing such an unconventional career wasn’t really on the cards in her young adulthood. But then, through perhaps a stroke of serendipity, she enrolled in the art and design program at the Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), choosing to major in ceramics. When she graduated, however, Musa found it difficult to advance her skills or come across opportunities for work, largely due to the immaturity of the Malaysian ceramics industry. Finding a mentor was difficult, demand for handcrafted ceramics was slow, and the equipment and barriers to entry were high (a ceramics kiln alone can cost upwards of 3,000 USD). According to Musa, of the dozen or so students who graduated along with her at UiTM, only one or two still remain in the craft. Fortunately for her though, she eventually found a mentor in Umibaizurah Mahir Ismail, an established Malaysian ceramics artist whose works have been featured in exhibitions in Japan, Korea, and Pakistan.

尽管Rozana目前很成功,但一路走来,她也经历了很多的艰难挑战。和大多数年轻的马来西亚人一样,要追求这样非传统的职业,在她年轻的时候都会觉得是很不现实的事情。后来也许是机缘巧合,她入读了马拉工业大学(Universiti Teknologi MARA)的艺术与设计课程,选择主修陶艺。但是毕业后,Rozana发现很难能找到提升的机会,主要是因为马来西亚的陶瓷产业尚不成熟。要找到导师很困难,社会对手工制作的陶瓷需求很少,进入这个行业还需要一定的设备,也有很高的壁垒(一个陶瓷窑炉价格至少3000美元)。Rozana说,从马拉工业大学毕业的十几名陶艺专业学生,只有一两个还留在这个行业。她很幸运,因为她最终找到Umibaizurah Mahir Ismail作为自己的导师。Umibaizurah Mahir Ismail是马来西亚著名的陶瓷艺术家,她的作品曾在日本、韩国和巴基斯坦展览。

After just several months of apprenticeship, Musa was inspired to start her own business, and thus Bendang Studio was conceived. She started off small, selling trinkets and accessories to a very niche market. Not long after, she wanted to expand her business, but being bootstrapped, buying an industrial ceramics kiln was out of the picture. Undeterred and being the self-starter that she is, Roza enlisted the help of her ex-lecturer at UiTM to build a fiberglass kiln from scratch. This move not only saved money, but her design was so innovative it won them an award that came with more than 4,000 USD in prize money from the government. And for the past seven years, Rozana has continually reinvested her profits, along with the winnings, back into her studio, buying a new kiln, and more recently, refurbishing the whole space. Rozana’s dedication and innovativeness have turned Bedang Studio what it is today – an impressive studio that’s leading the way for Malaysian ceramics.


Musa’s studio sits right by the through road between Malacca City and Kampung Sungai Petai, two vastly different places, one being a bustling, cultural city, and the other, a secluded, relatively unknown village. The location is perhaps fitting, as Musa’s brand of handcrafted ceramics has connected two similar yet separate worlds – the commercial, utilitarian mass-market ceramics industry, and the niche artistic, dreamy space of ceramic artists. Over the past years, Bendang Studio has brought glimpses of that artistic world to the mass market, with restauranteurs clamoring over her wares before they are even made. Perhaps it is a sign of changing times, of a greater artistic appreciation for ceramics, of the fledgling state of the handcrafted ceramics scene in Malaysia maturing into something significant. Musa certainly hopes so, and if her recent growth is anything to go by, there will certainly be more cobalt splashes and golden brushstrokes to come.


KM 20, Kampung Sungai Petai
78000 Alor Gajah
Malacca, Malaysia

Website: www.bendangstudio.com.my
Facebook: ~/bendangstudio
Instagram: @bendangstudio_official


Contributor & Photographer: Yi Jun Loh

78000 亞羅牙也
KM 20, 双溪大年市

网站: www.bendangstudio.com.my
脸书: ~/bendangstudio
Instagram: @bendangstudio_official


供稿人与摄影师: Yi Jun Loh

Blue & White Porcelain

Shann Larsson is a Hong Kong-based mixed media artist of Eurasian descent. Having been raised in Germany, Sweden, Indonesia, and Hong Kong, Larsson’s creative process has been deeply influenced by her exposure to these different cultures. Her latest project, Blue & White Porcelain, is a playing card deck that reflects the influences of her mixed cultural background. While the front-facing graphics and coloration are based on 14th-century Chinese ceramics, the card backs are influenced by modern Scandinavian porcelain, which tends to incorporate abstract and geometric characteristics. Building on the Chinese influences, the graphical elements on the rest of the cards, aside from the aces, are all based on the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac.

Shann Larsson是一位现居香港的多媒体艺术家。身为一名欧亚混血,她成长于德国、瑞典、印尼和香港这四个地方,而这样的成长背景也深深影响到了她的作品创作。这在她近期的一件产品设计作品《Blue & White Porcelain》亦能体现出来。在扑克牌的牌面设计上,Shann以中国明朝时期青花瓷的纹样和颜色作为灵感,而牌背则借鉴了另外一种较为现代的瓷器——产于斯堪的纳维亚、独特风格的瓷器,其中包含了抽象元素和几何特征。在图案设计中,Shann还融入了中国的十二生肖,来展现牌面的大小等级。

In the printing process, Larsson used a Spot UV varnish on individual cards and the packaging, which gave it a special coating that augmented the colors of her watercolor paintings; the glossy surface is also a reference to the lustrous qualities of real ceramics. Understanding that design is a balancing act, Larsson finalized the project with the use of the simple, minimal Novecento font, which complemented her complex graphical designs.


Blue & White Porcelain recently won a Junior Award at the Red Dot Award: Communication Design event and it’s now available in the Neocha Shop.

《Blue & White Porcelain》还是2017红点奖:传达设计部分的得奖作品!现正于Neocha商店限量发售。

To pay via PayPal or international credit card, please check out through our Shopify. To pay with AliPay or WeChat, please visit our Weidian.


Sharon Larsson的《Blue & White Porcelain》



Website: shannlarsson.com
Facebook: ~/shannlarssonsart


ContributorYe Zi
Images Courtesy of Shann Larsson

Behance: ~/shannlarsson 


供稿人: Ye Zi
图片由Shann Larsson提供

Tokyo Storefront

Polish-born and Japan-based artist Mateusz Urbanowicz is the talented illustrator and painter behind Bicycle Boy, a series we’ve previously featured on Neocha. Known for his vivid usage of watercolors and eye for detail, Urbanowicz has worked as the background artist for many anime TV shows and movies over the years, including the critically acclaimed Your Name. This year, Urbanowicz expressed hopes of shifting more of his attention towards personal projects. This reprioritization has led to a continuation of the ten-part Tokyo Storefront series that he released last year. The extension to the series comes in the form of a bilingual book that includes the original ten illustrations along with 40 new drawings.

艺术家Mateusz Urbanowicz生于波兰,目前居住在日本。他也是我们先前报道的另一个水彩画系列《自行车男孩》Bicycle Boy)的作者。才华横溢的他以细腻精致且清新生动的画风而闻名,更曾为许多动漫和电影创作背景插画,包括广受好评的电影《你的名字》(Your Name)。今年,Mateusz表达了他专注创作自己的艺术作品的希望。他将去年已有10张作品的《东京店面》(Tokyo Storefront)系列进行了增补,并将以双语书的形式面向大众,其中将包括最初的10幅插图以及40幅新创作的作品。

“When I moved to Tokyo more than three years ago, I was really surprised that on my walks I encountered so many shops still in business inside really old buildings. Differently to Kobe, where the earthquake wiped out a lot of these old downtown houses and shops, in Tokyo they still survive,” Urbanowicz recalls, and inspired by their beauty, Tokyo Storefront is his attempt to document these charming buildings.


The majority of the storefronts featured in the book comes from Urbanowicz’s exploration of Tokyo. However, his approach is more than a mere recreation of his observations. In the illustration above, Urbanowicz shares that the signage was already torn down when he showed up in his location hunt. Disappointed, he took a few photos of the shop in its current state and went home to scour the internet for old images of the store. In his final illustration, the original signage has been restored in its retro glory, and as a master of details, a small chair he observed in one of the old photos was also included.


Commenting on the series, Urbanowicz shares, “I didn’t want to copy all the retro guides that already exist for Tokyo. Because of that we, of course, had to go again to those places, take more photos, and look more closely at the details of the shops. But that also gave us a chance to talk with the owners to learn more about the interesting history behind each of the shops.”


In the upcoming book, Urbanowicz not only explores Tokyo shop facades but will also include historical details presented in both English and Japanese as well as sketches of shop interiors.

Tokyo Storefronts – The Artworks of Mateusz Urbanowicz is now available for pre-order on Amazon.


目前,《东京店面——Mateusz Urbanowicz绘作》(Tokyo Storefronts – The Artworks of Mateusz Urbanowicz)系列已经可以在Amazon上预售


Contributor: Chen Yuan


供稿人: Chen Yuan

Building Bridges Through Dance

From left: Suleman Malik, Bilal Malik and Nasir Sirikhan.

Quick Style is an Oslo-based international dance group and creative agency best known for their unique style and infusion of various Asian cultures in their projects, with one of their most notable being the Strawhatz concept. The latest manifestation of their passion for dance comes in the form of Quick Style Studio Chinaa collaborative studio created with China’s Sinostage, which debuted last year in Chengdu. With this project, they’re eager to show that dance is an activity anyone can partake in as well as showcase the value of dance as an outlet of creativity and self-expression. Since opening, the joint-run studio has often invited international teachers to open a cross-cultural dialogue with Chengdu’s local community using the language of dance. At a time when many are speaking of building walls, Quick Style shows us how we can build bridges through dance and cultural exchange. To better understand Quick Style’s cross-cultural entrepreneurship efforts, we talked to Bilal Malik, one of the three co-founders of Quick Style, to find out more about their work and experiences in China.

Quick Style是来自挪威奥斯陆的一支国际舞蹈团体和创意机构,向来以独特的创意风格和对各种亚洲文化的融合而闻名,其中最为人熟知的莫过于其推出的Strawhatz 舞蹈项目。Quick Style Studio China正是他们对舞蹈那份热爱的最新见证,这是Quick Style和Sinostage合作创办的工作室。从2016年成立以来,这个工作室已经成为一个文化与创意的中心。这个项目背后的理念是,舞蹈属于所有人,可以让人们以充满创意和健康的方式来表达自我。在当下这个人们相互间“筑墙”设防的时代,Quick Style向人们展示着如何建立起沟通的桥梁。为了加深理解Quick Style在跨文化产业上所作的努力,我们和它的创始人之一Bilal Malik聊了聊,试图了解更多关于他们在中国的工作和经历。

Quick Style teaching a class at the studio in Chengdu.
Koharu Sugawara, world-famous dancer and choreographer from Japan leads a class.

Neocha: How did the idea to start a Quick Style dance studio in China come about? What was it about the country that made it stand out as a potential location for your second studio?

Bilal Malik: The idea came about on our first trip to China. We checked out different dance communities and held workshops all over China. We explored the food, culture, music, people, and different places of China; we also met up with dancers around the country. We realized that it was not like Europe, the U.S., or any other Asian countries we have been to. The dancers here had a lot of emotion. We felt that Chinese dancers have a bright future. We also felt that they would bring a new wave of honest flavor to the whole world dance community. We started talking about how Chinese dancers will grow very fast since people had begun to accept the urban dance lifestyle. It was very clear to us that they are on the right track because they bring all kind of choreographers to teach dance across China.

Then on our last trip, we met Koko, the CEO of Sinostage. She had very different moves than anyone else. She has a passion and mindset that we’ve not seen in many people. She thinks about her people and wants to make dance huge in China, to change people’s lives! We connected very easily. Her passion moved us and we decided very quickly to do business and open a collaborative studio together. Our mission is to provide some Scandinavian mindset to the Chinese community. The country has so much potential. After being in China we have learned a lot. We know that we still have a lot more to learn, and we are sure that whatever we do here, it will be game changing for all of us.

Neocha: 怎么会选择在中国开设Quick Style舞蹈工作室?这个国家具有什么与众不同的潜力吗?

Bilal Malik: 我们第一次来中国时就已经有这个想法。我们在中国各地看到了不同的舞蹈团体,也举办过各种工作坊。我们深入地去了解中国的美食、文化、音乐、人以及不同的地方,去认识各地的舞者。我们意识到,这里不像欧洲、美国或其它我们去过的亚洲国家,这里的舞者有很饱满的情感。中国的舞者前景很大,我们相信,他们能给全世界的舞蹈界带来一种更真实的风格。我们开始谈到一旦人们开始接受urban dance的风格后,中国舞者的数量会增长得非常快。我们非常清楚,中国舞者的发展是在正确的轨道上的,因为他们会把不同风格的舞蹈编导都邀请到中国各地去教学。


Moving in sync - a class with Toby DeeDaran from Oslo, Norway.

Neocha: Can you tell us more about the process of making this project a reality?

Bilal Malik: The process was really interesting when I look back at it. Once we decided to open a studio together with Sinostage, things moved pretty quickly. We got to witness that Chinese people, or especially Koko, do not joke around when they work! We discussed the design and details and she started immediately. Not long after, there we are at the opening. It happened very fast, and we jumped into something very new for all of us. I believe that both parties have learned a lot from the process, and our relationship with Sinostage is still growing every day. Koko is an extremely talented woman and knew our taste even only after knowing us for such a short amount of time. We trusted her on every decision.

Neocha: 能跟我们分享一下是如何实现这个项目的吗?

Bilal Malik: 当我回过头来看,会觉得这个过程其实非常有趣。我们决定和Sinostage一起开办工作室后,一切就进展得很快了。中国人工作时真的很认真,尤其是Koko!我们讨论过设计和细节之后,她就会立即开始行动。感觉一眨眼,我们就到了开幕日。一切都进展得非常快,那是对我们所有人来说全新的体验,双方在过程中都学到了很多,我们与Sinostage的关系也在变得越来越好。Koko是一位非常有才华的女性,在我们相处了很短的时间后,她就已经清楚明白我们的风格。我们很信任她作出的每一个决定。

Welcome to Quick Style X Sinostage

Neocha: You’ve referred to Chengdu as your second home. What is it about that city that makes it so special to you? What traits have you observed that makes it stand out from other cities in China?

Bilal Malik: Chengdu is a special place for us. Of all the places we’ve been in China, Chengdu always treats us well, and we get a different vibe of the city every time we go there. They are definitely leading in terms of style and art. They are open-minded people and the city is growing very fast. There’s always something to do, and we also love the spicy food.

Neocha: 你曾经说过成都是你的第二个家。为什么它对你来说这么特别?就你看来,它和中国的其他城市有什么不同?

Bilal Malik: 成都对我们来说是一个特别的地方。在我们去过的所有中国城市中,成都总能让我们有不错的体验,并且每次去成都,我们都会有不一样的感觉。在时尚和艺术方面,这座城市绝对是领先的。这里的人们思想开放,城市的发展非常迅猛。在这里永远也不会觉得无聊。当然了,我们也很喜欢这里辛辣的美食。



Neocha: Now that Quick Style Chengdu has been open for a year, what kind of changes have you observed in China’s dance scene since?

Bilal Malik: The dance scene has changed a lot in China since we opened the studio. We don’t think it’s only because of us and the dance studio with Sinostage. The whole community is working together every day to make dance huge in China. Right now, China is arranging some of the biggest events, workshops, and TV shows for dance. Sinostage is doing a great job working with everyone, being open-minded, and making the studio open to all kinds of people. I feel that now, Chinese dancers have more confidence and are moving towards finding their own style. More dancers and a higher level of competition both lead to finding an original way of doing things. In addition to this, the dancers put a Chinese flavor into their art and performance, which makes it very unique.

Neocha: Quick Style Studio成立至今已经一年了,这期间你看到国内舞蹈界有没有发生什么变化?

Bilal Malik: 从我们成立了这个工作室之后到现在,中国的舞蹈界发生了很大的变化。当然这不是单靠我们或与Sinostage合作的舞蹈工作室就能带来的变化。而是整个舞蹈界的共同努力,才得以令舞蹈在中国的影响力变得这么大。眼下,中国正在筹办一些和舞蹈有关的大型活动、工作坊和电视节目。Sinostage和所有人的合作都很棒,他们的心态非常包容,欢迎各种各样的人加入。我觉得,现在的中国舞者更自信了,也正在逐渐找到自己独特的风格。越来越多的舞者,越来越高水平的竞争,这些都有助于他们去发现创意。除此之外,他们的作品和表演中因为加入了一些中国风格而变得更加独特。



Neocha: What is the reason behind sending dancers from Quick Style Studio Oslo to Chengdu? Why is this cross-culture exchange so important to you?

Bilal Malik: There are lots of reasons why it’s important for us to send dancers from Oslo to Chengdu. We believe our dancers grow not only in dance by traveling to teach, but grow in a bigger sense by experiencing another culture. Every time dancers from Quick Style come back to Olso, they come back with a bag full of experiences. They become a little bit more mature about their own life. They’ve just spend three months in one of the biggest countries in the world! Being in a place with different language, food, and ways of thinking, they’re challenged by new situations every day. In the end, they come back stronger and see the world differently. In addition to this, the instructors from Oslo represent us in Chengdu. They are there to share with and learn from the other dancers. Overall, it’s a great cultural and artistic exchange.

Neocha:为什么要把Quick Style在奥斯陆的舞者带到成都来?为什么跨文化的交流对你来说如此重要?

Bilal Malik: 之所以把奥斯陆的舞者带到成都是出于很多考虑的。我们的舞者不仅能通过到国外教学来提升自己的舞蹈水平,更能通过体验另一种文化获得更大意义上的成长。每次Quick Style的舞者回到奥斯陆,他们都是带着丰富经验回来的。他们的人生态度也会变得更加成熟。毕竟他们在全球最大的国家之一生活了三个月啊!在这种有着不同语言、食物和思维方式的地方,他们每天都会遇到新的情况,新的挑战。最后,他们回来时会变得更强大,也能够用不同的角度去看待世界。除此之外,去成都教学的奥斯陆舞者就代表着我们。他们去那里是去分享的,也是去跟其他舞者学习的。总的来说,这是一次非常棒的文化和艺术交流。



Neocha: What is your approach to teaching dance?

Bilal Malik: We really do not see ourselves as teachers or our workshops as being regular “dance” classes. We feel that we share ourselves more than teach them something specific. We can’t teach anyone to dance. We believe everyone can dance. We feel sharing ourselves with people in our workshop will open some gate in their mind, to grow or learn something that can make either a small or big change in their life.  We are happy to continue sharing because over the years we’ve witnessed tremendous change in many people lives – that is our biggest motivation today.

Neocha: 你是如何传授舞蹈的?

Bilal Malik: 我们真的不认为自己是老师,我们的工作坊也不是普通意义上的舞蹈课堂。更多的是分享,而不是去教什么具体的东西。你是不能教人跳舞的。因为我们相信,每个人都会跳舞。但是通过分享,我们可以帮他们变得更放得开,去成长或学习,让他们的生活产生或大或小的改变。我们很高兴可以继续这样的分享,因为多年来,我们已经见证了很多人在生活上发生的巨大变化,而这也是我们今天最大的动力。



Neocha: If you think about the bigger picture and the vision for Quick Style, what role does China or Asia in general play in it?

Bilal Malik: For Quick Style’s vision for the future, China – and Asia as a whole – is very important for us. We grew up as Asians in a Western country like Norway. We see ourselves as Norwegian with a unique cultural understanding because of our strong cultural ties through our families. We were lucky to grow up in a place that’s very open-minded. Many people or countries do not have that privilege. We believe we have the experience, knowledge, and sensitivity to build cultural bridges between different countries. Whenever we interact with people, we choose to go deeper and find what people really feel and like because we care about them.

Asia is a very important place for us. You can find inspiration and discover strong cultural roots almost everywhere. We really believe that art is for everyone and that art is a very important thing for the society. This is why we want to make sure we continue to inspire people with our art and keep growing the movement of creative and cultural interactions.

Neocha: 如果你从整体来看,从Quick Style的愿景来考虑,中国或亚洲扮演什么角色?

Bilal Malik: 在Quick Style的未来规划中,中国和亚洲都是非常重要的。我们是在像挪威这样的西方国家长大的亚裔。我们是有着独特文化见解的挪威人,那是我们家庭所带来的深厚文化联系。我们很幸运,可以成长在一个开明的国家里。很多人或国家就没这么幸运了。我们相信,我们有足够丰富的经验、知识和敏感度,去在不同国家之间建立文化桥梁。每当我们与别人互动时,都会真的去深入地了解他们真正的感受和喜好,因为我们真的关心他们。


"We believe everyone can dance." - Bilal Malik

Facebook: @thequickstyle
YouTube: ~/TheQuickStyle
Instagram: @thequickstyle
Twitter: @thequickstyle


Contributor: Aleesha Suleman
Images & Videos Courtesy of Quick Style & Sinostage

脸书: @thequickstyle
YouTube: ~/TheQuickStyle
Instagram: @thequickstyle
推特: @thequickstyle


供稿人: Aleesha Suleman
图片与视频由Quick Style与Sinostage提供

I, Me, Mine

Since 2013, the community-run Saigon Artbook has produced more than 3000 copies of its publication, showcasing numerous Vietnamese artists working in a variety of mediums. The 7th and latest edition is a truly laudable endeavor in both form and content. Designer Giang Nguyen has utilized 14 types of paper and experimental printing techniques, pushing the boundaries of what a book can be and how art can be experienced. But underneath the compelling visuals, more substantial is how Saigon Artbook reflects the collective force to actively carve spaces for artistic freedom and tackle diverse subject matters in Vietnam today.

自2013年以来,《Saigon Artbook》已经印刷发行了3000多本,展示了众多在不同媒体领域创作的越南艺术家。而第七期,即最新一期的《Saigon Artbook》在形式和内容上更是值得称道。书籍设计师Giang Nguyen采用14种纸张和实验性印刷技术,突破性地诠释了书的定义,展示出一种全新的艺术体验方式。但在抢眼的视觉效果背后,更重要的是《Saigon Artbook》展现了一群艺术家用自己力量积极争取着自由的艺术创作空间,一同探讨越南当下所面临的各种问题。

Dang Thanh Long, the co-founder of Saigon Artbook and independent publisher inpages, fervently shares the joy of physically coming into contact with works of art. Combining his love for books and a recognized need to document the evolving contemporary art scene, Long has collaborated with a number of local creators, designers, and curators to bring to fruition this labor of love, titled affectionately after the city they reside. Amidst a world saturated with images and lacking institutional support for contemporary art, lies a rising demand for personally curated and self-published content. Saigon Artbook is no doubt at the helm of this movement in Vietnam.

“Young Vietnamese artists now are so much more daring, provocative, almost ‘irritating’ in the way they take on contemporary themes of politics, gender and society,” comments Shyevin S’ng, co-curator of the 7th edition and owner of Vin Gallery. The theme this time of “I, Me, Mine” – despite dealing with introspection – speaks volumes about how the five featured artists think and engage with society.

《Saigon Artbook》和独立出版商 inpages创始人Dang Thanh Long热切地分享着一种直接触摸艺术作品的快乐体验。Long结合自己对书籍的热爱,以及记录不断变化的当代艺术场景的需要,与当地许多创意人才、设计师和策展人合作,共同打造出这本满溢热情的作品,并以他们所居住的城市之名命名。在这个图像泛滥、当代艺术缺乏体制支持的世界中,人们对独立策划和出版内容的需求越来越多。而《Saigon Artbook》无疑是越南国内引领这一股潮流的先锋。

“现在年轻的越南艺术家在探讨当代政治、性别和社会话题时,更大胆、直率,甚至可以说是有挑衅意味的。” Vin Gallery画廊老板和第七期《Saigon Artbook》的策划人 Shyevin S’ng评论道。这期的主题“I, Me, Mine”尽管也是在探讨自省的问题,但更多的是通过五位艺术家是如何思考和与社会互动的。

The work of painter Tran Kim Hoa begins with a resounding quote: “What’s more important than humanity?” What follows is a series of female portraits printed on paper stock with a tactile feel that’s close to canvas. The female body has been historically romanticized in visual arts by male creators but this time Tran decides to take matters into her own hands. Through self-portraits painted by staring into a mirror and quick sketches based on memorable women she encountered in real life and local news, Tran attempts to communicate the idea of truly seeing oneself. To emphasize this concept, reflective paper intended to resemble a mirror sits alongside her works in the book.

画家Tran Kim Hoa的专题部分以发人深省的一句话开头: “有什么比人性更重要?”(What’s more important than humanity?)接着展示了一系列的女性肖像,印于像画布一样充满触感的纸张上。一直以来,在视觉艺术中,男性创作者笔下的女性身体都会被美化,但这一次她决定由自己来作主。Tran对照镜中的自己,创作自画像,或是根据自己在真实生活和新闻中看到的女性形象,描画出一些女性素描速写。通过这些女性画像,Tran试图传达出发现真实自我的想法,为了强调这一概念,在她的画像旁边是一张用来模拟镜子的反光纸。

Constructed by geometric shapes and bold brushwork, Tran’s women don’t follow any notion of Vietnamese female beauty – lithe, gentle and dreamy. The artist could be reimagining her own figure or fusing it with memories of other women who, similarly, are trapped in an abiding definition of femininity and Asian physiognomy that is said to dictate one’s fate. Rather than shying away, Tran unapologetically celebrates features of womanhood normally deemed undesirable: high cheekbones, perky breasts, large shoulders, love handles, and unruly hair. Yet while looking defiant, these figures are submerged in a dusty hue, implying the harsh living conditions that have left physical marks in their bodies. The series’ title Bonsai – which is defined as “the act of growing ornamental, artificially dwarfed trees” – strikes a sobering note about the invisible containers that mold humans into preconceived ideas.


Readers then move to Yatender’s cross-country adventure with her Tinder date in 35mm film. Her visual diary layered with handwritten notes charts a whimsical, bittersweet account of modern dating, toying around with the collision of two people from different parts of the world. She captures her “halfway lover, halfway friend” in private spaces, jotting down her confusion as the relationship advances. In the only photo where both the photographer and her date appear together, the double-page spread can be opened up like doors to reveal the subject’s naked body, their travel itinerary, and their Tinder profiles. The small-sized images that could only be seen by turning pages serve to create an intimate experience of observing someone elses’ life. Overwhelming is a sense of affection, or more precisely, the yearning for it. Lost in the whirlwind of passion, perhaps Yatender has forgotten that this is supposed to be an experiment.


Yatender’s compact camera and 35mm film allows her to shoot without too much intrusion and calculation, and as a result, aesthetics takes a back seat to intuition. “Do you decide to make a memory based on the composition of a face between the sheets?” asks the photographer. It is easy to consider Yatender’s work as rebellious against the conservatism in Vietnamese culture especially attitudes to women, or generalize it as a response to the online and/or biracial dating trend. However, her work here is a deeply personal one and only wishes to be seen as an effort to “hold onto things that are important to [her] and for people who are lost”.


More abstract, yet no less resonant, is the work of Xuan Ha (Grandmadeadxh) where lies otherworldly characters, originally existing in black ink on silk, recreated in the book on opaque tracing paper. Her feminine figures are without hair, sunken in mud with eyes closed as if in a state of deep meditation, contemplating the sorrowful cycle of life and death. Performance artist Do Nguyen Lap Xuan tackles the idea of greed in her piece Nothingness, the result of hours of diligently dotting and erasing on paper is presented as a six-page spread. Hoang Nam Viet’s charcoal sketches of daily, yet somehow twisted, postures disrupt the sense of normalcy, showing a man shrinking as he consumes food and one’s face obscured by withering sunflowers.

相比之下,Xuan Ha(Grandmadeadxh)的作品则更抽象,但同样能引发读者的共鸣,其作品中那些超凡脱俗的角色原来是用墨水创作于丝绸上的,在书中被重新印于不透明的描摹纸上。她笔下的女性形象没有头发,凹陷在泥土中,眼睛紧闭,仿佛处于沉思的状态,沉思着苦海轮回。而行为艺术家Do Nguyen Lap Xuan在她的《Nothingness》作品中则探讨了贪婪的主题,这幅由她在纸上不断点画和擦除数个小时而成的作品被印于六页的跨页中。Hoang Nam Viet的炭笔素描展示了平凡但扭曲着的姿势,扰乱了常态感,画中一位蜷缩着的男人正在进食,他的脸被枯萎的向日葵遮蔽着。

Through personal explorations of five aspiring Vietnamese artists, we see various interpretations of the theme of self and its shifting place in different environments. While none of these artists might want to represent Vietnamese youth as a whole, their creative effort does shed light on what it’s like to live in modern-day Vietnam as a young person. The 7th edition of Saigon Artbook continues the commitment to publishing by utilizing printing materials to great effect. Step by step, one page after another, Saigon Artbook pushes the burgeoning art scene forward while documenting it at the same time.

通过探索五位充满想法的越南艺术家的个人世界,我们看到了对“自我”这个主题及其在环境中变化的各种诠释。虽然这些艺术家并不希望要代表所有越南年轻一代,但他们的作品在一定程度上揭示了现代越南年轻人的生活。《Saigon Artbook》第七期继续致力于有效利用印刷材料来制作出版物的理念。《Saigon Artbook》正在一步一步地推动着越南蓬勃发展的艺术场景,同时又在记录着这一进程。

Website: www.saigonartbook.org
Facebook: ~/saigonartbook
Instagram: @saigonartbook


Contributor & Photographer: Ha Dao



供稿人与摄影师: Ha Dao

A Beautiful Contradiction



Just 20 minutes outside of the dusty town of Siem Reap in Cambodia, and away from bustling groups of tourists visiting the Angkor Wat complex, a small farm has quietly revitalized ancient techniques of silk weaving that date back to as early as 4000 BCE. Surrounded by lush rice fields and vast orchards of mulberry leaves, the Artisans Angkor farm is an oasis in this otherwise hot and arid region. The farm was established in the late 1990s when it began recruiting rural women in the surrounding area who lacked formal education and provided training in all facets of the silk-production process, from breeding worms all the way to weaving intricately designed pieces of art. Beginning with just a handful of employees at its inception, today nearly 800 artisans can be found at the farm and its satellite workshops scattered across rural Cambodia.

从柬埔寨暹粒这个尘土飞扬的小镇驱车20分钟,你就能远离吴哥窟建筑群中熙熙攘攘的游客,来到一个安静的小农场,在这里,人们正默默地努力振兴可以追溯到公元前4000年前的古老丝绸编织技艺。在这片炎热干旱的地区,这个名为Artisans Angkor(吴哥工匠)的小农场四周却是郁郁葱葱的稻田和广阔的桑果园,可谓是一片绿洲。农场成立于1990年代末,农场一开始招收周边地区未接受过正规教育的农村妇女来工作,为她们提供从养殖蚕虫到编织复杂艺术品一切有关丝绸生产制作的培训。从刚开始仅有的数名员工,发展到如今拥有将近800名工匠,除了这个农场之外,还在柬埔寨的农村地区开设了众多的小作坊。

The farm is organized as the physical representation of the entire silk production process. As I walk onto the grounds, I first pass through endless lines of thick mulberry bushes that are grown year round as a food supply for the worms. This leads to a large warehouse filled with millions of silkworms that will feed on mulberry leaves until they are moved to wicker trays where they can begin spinning bright orange cocoons that will eventually encase their entire bodies. If you sit quietly and listen, you can even hear a chatter-like sound as the worms voraciously devour the leaves one bite at a time. The final section of the farm is three separate buildings where the cocoons are boiled, unwound, cleaned, dyed, and finally passed along to expert weavers who may spend several months carefully stitching the silk into intricately designed patterns using nothing more than a traditional wooden loom.


While the process of producing and weaving silk is nothing short of awe-inspiring, the sheer volume of raw materials required to make just a single piece of fabric is almost unfathomable. Each cocoon weighs a mere 70 grams and contains approximately 400 combined meters of raw and fine silk. One medium-sized scarf requires no less than 3,000 individual cocoons, while larger items require as many as 6,000 cocoons. The silk farm keeps 20% of the cocoons that will later transform into moths and ensure a steady reproduction rate of new silk worms, with female moths giving birth to upwards of 300 eggs each.


Savuth, one of the farm’s employees, explains to me that while Cambodia may not be a silk powerhouse like India or China, silk weaving is a tradition that runs deep in numerous rural Cambodian households. “My grandma, grandad, and mom also did silk weaving. Just the three of them, they planted the bushes, dyed the colors, and wove scarves. One scarf with just three people would take almost five months,” he says. As a child, Savuth was responsible for caring for the mulberry bushes and making sure the silkworms were well fed, which led to an affinity for worms one usually would associate with a pet dog or cat. “I still play with the worms every day. I like them very much,” Savuth tells me with a grin on his face.


The influx of foreign investment into Cambodia is resulting in a rapid transformation of societal values, where speed and efficiency are swiftly taking the place of craft and tradition. And while Cambodia’s large textile factories are bringing newfound economic gains, the small silk workshops in the country’s sprawling rural areas continue to preserve one of Cambodia’s oldest and most celebrated crafts.


Website: www.artisansdangkor.com
Facebook: ~/ArtisansAngkor
Instagram: @artisansangkor


Contributor, Photographer, and Videographer: Jeremy Meek

网站: www.artisansangkor.com
脸书: ~/ArtisansAngkor
Instagram: @artisansangkor


供稿人,图片摄影师与视频摄影师: Jeremy Meek

Soap Operas as Inspiration

A snippet from Episode 3 of Hello, Finale!  《你好,尽头!》第三集 片段


Chinese multimedia artist Tao Hui’s newest series, Hello Finale!follows nine different individuals making a phone call to close acquaintances. Inspired by film, soap operas, and even local news, the series explores topics of love, life, and death through the overarching theme of “all things must end.”


For Tao Hui, who grew up during the peak era of cable television, TV has been central in his creative growth. Observing his mother, an avid fan of Taiwanese writer Qiong Yao, cry when watching Yao’s shows, led Tao to propose the questions of “What is the relationship between reality, television shows, and films” and “What role can art play in exploring their dynamic?”


Tao Hui’s goal is to clearly define the often blurry line between TV shows and reality. In Hello, Finale!, Tao intentionally cherry-picked footage with minor acting slip-ups. “I don’t want the audience to fully believe what I’m showing them. I want them to see the flaws and understand this is what a performance is. There are parts that are real and parts that are fake.”


With thoughtfully produced television shows and movies becoming increasingly difficult to find in China, the general public has grown accustomed to the visually grandiose films that are made for fast profit. “This is to be expected in our modern life. The pursuit of beauty has always been a large driving force behind human motivation, and as our society develops, people have more money to spend on their pursuit of beautiful things. Hence, it’s even more important to separate works that are made for profit and works with artistic intentions.”


Discussing favorite directors, Tao Hui names Abdellatif Kechicheall, Asghar Farhadiof, and Michael Haneke to be his current picks. And even though the three don’t share any stylistic similarities, the common denominator is that their films are far more thoughtful than typical Hollywood blockbusters. “I feel like for-profit movies are made for the average consumer, created for mass appeal and satisfying the public,” Tao says with a shrug. “For-profit films and video art should be differentiated. The former is a product; it’s something for people to consume. The latter is created with the goal of provoking discussion and making people think.”




More of Tao Hui’s work is currently on display at Shanghai’s Rockbound Art Museum as part of HUGO BOSS ASIA ART 2017. Click here to find out more.

在近期上海外滩美术馆举办的“HUGO BOSS 2017亚洲新锐艺术家大奖中可以看到更多陶辉的作品。点击这里可以购买展览门票。

EventHUGO BOSS 2017亚洲新锐艺术家大奖
Exhibition Dates: 10/27/2017 ~ 2/11/2018

Rockbund Art Museum
Huqiu Road 20
Huangpu District, Shanghai
People’s Republic of China


Website: ~/TaoHui


Contributor: Chen Yuan
Image Courtesy of Tao Hui and Rockbund Art Museum

活动HUGO BOSS 2017亚洲新锐艺术家大奖
展期: 2017年10月27日——2018年2月11日



网站: ~/TaoHui


供稿人: Chen Yuan

Unconventional Fairy Tales

Using fairy tales as the foundation of her work, Taiwanese artist Chang Chia-ying creates colorful oil paintings steeped in a wondrous sense of mystery and innocence. Many of Chang’s paintings are unexpectedly large, with some being more than two meters tall, a surprise for people who assume her delicate brushwork is done on a smaller canvas. The size of her paintings help accentuate one of the most prominent features of her works – her doe-eyed characters. With penetrating gazes that demand a viewer’s full attention, these characters invite viewers to immerse themselves into Chang’s surreal world. Chang beckons viewers to use their own imagination to fill in the blanks, form their own interpretation of her work, and essentially create a fairy tale of their very own. Describing her art, she says, “Like Moebius’ illustrations, my paintings are a fairy-tale paradise without an entrance or exit, a fantasy that goes on infinitely, stories without a beginning or end.”



To see Chang Chiaying’s paintings in person, the Project Fulfill Art Space in Taipei, Taiwan is currently showcasing her solo exhibition.


EventMini Me
Exhibition Dates: October 20, 2017 ~ November 25, 2017
Opening Hours: Tuesday ~ Saturday 11am~7pm (Sunday by appointment only)

Project Fulfill Art Space
1F., No.2, Alley 45, Lane 147, Sec. 3, Xinyi Rd.
Da’an District, Taipei



活动: 迷你谜
展期: 2017年10月20日——2017年11月25日
时间: 周二至周日 早上11点至晚上7点(周日仅供预约)

信义路三段 147 巷 45 弄 2 号一楼

Facebook: ~/Changchiaying


Contributor: Chen Yuan
Images Courtesy of Project Fulfill Art SpaceChang Chiaying

脸书: ~/Changchiaying


供稿人: Chen Yuan
图片由就在艺术空间Chang Chiaying提供

Searching for the Self

Yuqing Zhu is a Chinese American artist, writer, and Ph.D. student in neuroscience at the University of Chicago. Using materials including pencil, chiyogami paper, origami paper, and magazine cut-outs, Zhu creates colorful self-portraits that examine the nature of identity and culture. Neocha spoke with Zhu to learn more about her life, art, and studies. Check out the conversation below.

朱禹清(Yuqing Zhu)是一名美籍华裔艺术家和作家,目前在芝加哥大学攻读神经学博士学位。通过铅笔、千代纸(Chiyogami)、折纸、杂志上剪下的图片等材料,她创作了一系列彩色自画像,以此对自我身份和文化本质进行审视。Neocha和朱禹清聊了一下,进一步去了解她的生活、艺术和学业。一起来看下这段对话吧。

Neocha: As a neuroscience student, how do you balance your art with your academic studies?

Zhu: Before beginning my program, someone told me that finding a hobby as soon as possible is the best way to keep sane. Luckily for me, I already had something. I think the key to finding balance was by assigning equal importance to both art and science. It’s truly a matter of mindset. I’m serious enough about neuroscience to be part of a five-year-plus Ph.D. program, so it’s quite a struggle to match that level of dedication in my art! I may need to spend more time in lab or in lecture, simply due to the nature of the work, but I try to think about and create art consistently as well.

Some days I recognize that I’ve been neglecting creating art for too long. On those days I simply put down my science and draw. This usually rejuvenates my work on the science side as well. Scientific research can devolve into a lot of drudgery and grunt work but doing something creative reminds me to think broadly and reassess where I’m at. My most inspired periods in the lab usually match up with my most productive periods at the easel.

Neocha: 作为一名神经科学的学生,你如何平衡自己的艺术创作与学业?

Zhu: 在我开始修读学位之前,有人劝我尽快找个爱好,这是让自己保持理智的最佳方式。幸运的是,我早就有这样的爱好。我觉得,找到平衡的关键是对艺术和科学赋予同等的重要性。这确实就是心态的问题。我对于学神经科学是很认真的,所以才会决心读一个5年多的博士学位课程,所以要在艺术方面也投入同等的专注,确实不容易。我可能会花更多的时间在实验室或上课,主要是因为这个专业本身的需要,但我会尽量保持不断地去思考和创造艺术。


Neocha: What are some of the parallels between art and neuroscience?

Zhu: I’ve had a lot of people ask me this question, and I’m not sure if I can give a satisfactory answer even to myself! Here’s my shot at it: art and science are both part of an abstract search for the balance between beauty and complexity. Self-portraiture and neuroscience are both part of an abstract search of the core of one’s identity beyond one’s own biases.

I adore complexity. It wasn’t always obvious that the complex system I wanted to study was the brain. I used to, and still do actually, love things like M. C. Escher’s prints and delight in the extremely dense inkwork of Edward Gorey and more recently of Manabu Ikeda. Complex interactions in anything from ecology to musical scores are still fascinating to me.

A lot of times neurobiology gives you extremely elegant solutions to complex problems. How do we hear? How do entire nervous systems develop from embryonic stages into adulthood? How can we sense things like temperature, and how do we perceive things like colors? When systems like these come to be understood and explained, we realize how logically elegant they are! That doesn’t mean the solutions are simple or straightforward or even the most efficient, but nonetheless, they work, and I find them beautiful! A large part of the time we don’t know the full answer yet. For me, the process for finishing a work of art is the same as for finding a piece of evidence in the framework of a scientific theory.

Neocha: 艺术与神经科学之间有什么相似之处?

Zhu: 已经有很多人问过我这个问题,即使是回答自己,我也不确定可不可以给出一个满意的答复!不过我可以试一下。艺术和科学都属于为寻找美丽和复杂性之间的平衡而作出的一种抽象性探索。自画像与神经科学都属于为寻找一种超越自己偏见、核心的自我身份认知而作出的一种抽象性探索。

我崇拜复杂性。以前我没搞清楚原来自己一直想研究的复杂系统就是大脑。我以前(现在也仍然)很喜欢M. C. Escher的版画,Edward Gorey以及最近很喜欢的池田学(Manabu Ikeda)他们那些极其细腻的钢笔画。从生态学到乐谱,任何事物间复杂的相互作用对我来说都充满魅力。


Neocha: Expanding on that, are there any other similarities between the creative process for art versus science?

Zhu: I think the creative process is crucial for good science. You can’t create good art or do good science by being dogmatic about it. Scientific research is all about finding something new that’s never been known before. Art is about creating something that has not existed in the world before. Paradigm shifts occur in science as well as in art! New movements emerge when individuals dare to look at things in vastly different ways. The move from geocentrism to heliocentrism, from Lamarckian inheritance to Darwinian evolution (and now to a complex epigenetics that is beyond me), all happened because scientists dared to think differently!

Neocha: 进一步说,科学与艺术创作的过程之间有其它的相似之处吗?

Zhu: 艺术创作的过程对于进行科学研究也是关键。如果太过于教条主义,你不能创作出好的艺术,也不能进行很好的科学研究。科学研究就是要寻找人们未知的新事物。而艺术是要创造出世界上之前并不存在的事物。范式转变在科学和艺术上都会发生!当个体敢以截然不同的方式看待事情时,就会催生新的运动出现。从地心说到日心说的转变,从拉马克获得性遗传到达尔文的进化论(再到现在超越我理解的复杂的表观遗传学)的发展,都是因为有科学家敢于从不同角色思考而发生的!

Neocha: What does your personal creative process usually look like?

Zhu: The process of creating a portrait is very straightforward. I can pull up a piece of paper and simply start drawing. Sometimes I’ll draw myself without much thought. Those are usually sketches to be filed away. Other times a specific idea will come to mind, and I’ll act on it. I like to finish pieces in one long breath – I’ll think of something as I eat breakfast and by the time I go to sleep that night it’ll be finished. Of course, I usually don’t spend that whole stretch of time literally drawing. Almost every portrait involves a little bit of research about the historical period I’m assuming in my clothing or looser web browsing for inspiration and references.

I’m terrible about finishing something that I started on a different day. I guess it’s possibly because when I wake up the next morning I feel like a brand new self and the half-finished piece no longer has power as a part of me. I rarely sit and ponder or actively brainstorm for a portrait. The pieces fall together as I work.




Neocha: How does heritage influence your work?

Zhu: I try to learn as much as I can about something before I incorporate it as a facet of my portraits. This is especially important for Chinese history – if I don’t understand something sufficiently (it’s the science researcher’s mindset), I feel like a fraud, like I’m wearing a “Chinese Halloween costume.” Sometimes I feel very far removed from China and its peoples and their rich history. Creating these self-portraits is a way to look at myself and see who I may be inside or the ancestors I contain.

The color palettes that I use are definitely inspired by the colors of modern metropolitan China as well as the dynastic past. Sometimes I have misgivings about using chiyogami. I try to pick patterns that are in common with traditional Chinese textiles and not ones that are uniquely Japanese since that culture is not part of my heritage. I got the idea of dressing my self-portraits from my paternal grandmother. She used to cut out patterned paper to decorate or altogether recreate scenes from children’s books, creating beautiful, intricate collages. Right now, I use a similar technique to what she did with tracing paper. I draw myself, get a rough sense of which collage elements I will need to overlay, and then use tracing paper in order to get the outlines exactly right. Then I use that as a stencil to cut shapes out of patterned paper.

Neocha: 你自身的文化背景如何影响你的作品?

Zhu: 在我将某种元素融入我的肖像画时,我都会先尽可能多地去了解它。尤其是关于中国的历史,如果我不能充分地了解某种事物(这是一种科学研究者的心态),我会感觉自己像个骗子,仿佛我披了一件“中国的万圣节服装”。有时,我会觉得自己与中国、中国人和他们丰富的历史隔得非常遥远。而创作这些自画像就变成一种审视自己的方式,让我去了解自己的内心,了解我所来自的文化。


Neocha: How have art and science changed your perception of self and identity?

Zhu: We are so, so biased in our conception of our brains because our thoughts can never escape them. Oftentimes, we fall into the trap of “this is so obvious,” when actually our firsthand experience is quite wrong. For example, our visual perception of the world is just a useful approximation of what is truly there. The perception of color – a biological representation of the electromagnetic spectrum across animal species – is the most fascinating thing to me (not to mention the phenomenon of consciousness, a taboo topic for most neuroscientists still). Working past, and sometimes outright rejecting the ideas that we hold based on our own brainy experiences is central to the practice of good neuroscience.

Self-portraiture is the exact same. We as individuals don’t, in fact, have an accurate idea of what we look like, much less of who we truly are. Someone once told me that, while I was pretty accurate at drawing other people, my own portraits were lacking. This was perhaps a year ago. That’s the point at which I began to draw myself in earnest and to strive for self-understanding and representational accuracy. I try to portray different aspects of what I understand as my actual self in my self-portraits. More and more, these are buried aspects – split open my face and what would you find? An octopus – an organism that is remarkably intelligent yet with an altogether alien nervous system. Do they operate at similar levels of cognition as humans? What would that mean in practice? Put my past in front of me, dress me in Qing Dynasty robes, and what do we have? The truth or still a self-distortion? As a young Chinese American, when I assume the attire of Communist-era China, am I connecting to my parents’ generation, or am I romanticizing a past that I do not have any true ownership of? These are questions I can’t yet answer.

Neocha: 艺术和科学如何改变你对自我和身份的看法?

Zhu: 我们大脑里的观念充满了偏见,因为我们的思想离不开大脑。很多时候我们掉进一些所谓“显而易见”的陷阱,但实际上,我们的亲身经验却是错的。例如,我们对世界的视觉感知只不过是真实世界的近似值。对色彩的感知——电磁频谱在动物物种间的生物表述——是对我来说最有趣的事情(更不用提“意识”这个在大多数神经科学家中仍然是禁忌话题的现象)。要进行有效的神经科学实践,我们要抛开,甚至直接否定这种我们根据自己自以为是的经验所得出的想法。


Website: yqzhu.com
Instagram: @yq_z


Contributor: George Zhi Zhao

网站: yqzhu.com
Instagram: @yq_z


供稿人: George Zhi Zhao