Strings Attached 梦魇、傀儡与人

July 1, 2020 2020年7月1日

The world of Zeen Chin is one filled with animated marionettes, eerie masks, and impish demons. These characters switch roles often—at times, one might be tugged along by strings, while other scenes might show them as the puppeteer. These strings, pulling his characters along every which way, pose a fairly straightforward question: does free will truly exist, or is it just an illusion?

Zeen Chin 的作品充满各种木偶、怪异面具和恶魔的角色,而且这些角色还会经常变换身份:有时是被操纵的提线木偶,而有时又变成操纵这些傀儡的人。这些拉扯着木偶的细线令人不禁思考着一个尖锐的问题:自由意志真的存在吗?抑或仅仅是一种幻想?

Zeen, whose real name is Chin Jing-hui, is working on this series of illustrations for a forthcoming art book titled 21. Throughout these works, the Chinese-Malaysian artist culls inspiration from his heritage: Chinese puppet theatre, Buddhist and Taoist references, and other Southeast Asian folklore all make frequent appearances in his drawings. “These are all things I grew up with,” he says. “It’s just natural to include them in my work.”

马来华裔艺术家 Zeen 原名陈景辉,这是他为自己即将出版的画册《21》所创作的一系列插图。在创作这些作品时,他的灵感主要源自中国传统的木偶戏剧、佛教和道教文化,以及其他东南亚民间传说,“我从小在这些文化中长大,所以很自然会想到用来做创作的素材。”他说道。

Currently based in Kuala Lumpur, Zeen says the diversity of Malaysian culture is an endless source of inspiration. Even though much of his focus is on Chinese culture, as viewed through the prism of his childhood in Malaysia, where folk beliefs live alongside the mix of religions. This hodgepodge of religious influences appears in different ways throughout Zeen’s work, such as the characters covered in Mandarin text, which he says is based on Buddhist scripture.

“There is a temple just opposite from where I grew up, and it was like my playground,” he recalls. “My grandparents used to take me to see puppet shows a lot, too. Every region of China has its own shows and plays with different dialects, but my grandparents were from Hainan, so we watched Hainan operas.”

目前居住在吉隆坡的 Zeen 说,马来西亚的多元文化给了他源源不断的灵感。尽管作品中出现的大多数都是中国文化的元素,但那也是他童年在马来西亚所看到的中国文化。在这个国家,各种各样的民间信仰与宗教信仰并存,从 Zeen 的作品中可以看到这些不同的影响,例如角色身上布满的汉字其实是佛教经文。


The resemblance of Zeen’s digital paintings to video-game concept art isn’t by coincidence—he works full-time as an artist in the gaming industry and this series is just a passion project. Still, he’s reluctant to reveal too much about the book prior to its official release, aside from hinting at larger concepts around how avarice and poverty can dictate people’s lives. “Ultimately, I just want to encourage people to do what they really want before they die,” he says.

Zeen 的数字画作与视频游戏的概念艺术十分相似,这也并非偶然。他的全职工作是一名游戏行业的设计师。虽然这本画册项目只是业余爱好,在正式出版之前, 他不愿透露太多这一系列的作品,但他分享了一些创作的想法,指出对金钱的贪念与贫穷主宰着人们的生活,他说:“我只是想鼓励人们趁活着多做自己想做的事情。”

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Contributor: Mike Steyels
Chinese Translation: Olivia Li

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供稿人: Mike Steyels
英译中: Olivia Li