My work as a video artist and filmmaker consistently explore themes of identity. In "Live Interview" I have collected a series of interviews with various people who identify with two different names. Each person is interviewed twice. The first time as their given name and the second time as their other name. The installation consists of three 13" monitors, which displays the interviewees heads, three life sized body casts, and a round table. When assembled the monitors sit on top of the bodies to form the illusion of a person in order to create the sense of that their interview is live. One body plays back footage of the interviewer and the other two bodies each show one interviewee with their given name and the other screen shows their interview about their other name.
The video installation arrangement provides an inviting setting for viewers to more critically engage in each interviewee's story. The separation of the two exaggerates the notion of two identies with the separation of their names in a physical space. The timing of the interview with each "person" taking turns to speak and acknowledge one another further dabbles with ideas of present and past.
Live Interview // Get Involved
"Marilyn Monroe wasn't even her real name, Charles Manson isn't his real name, and now, I'm taking that to be my real name. But what's real? You can't find the truth, you just pick the lie you like the best."-Marilyn Manson
Names are a powerful part of one's identity. They represent who we are and who we aspire to be. Often times, our fate and future are influenced in part by our names. In recent years, I have been curious about my roots being a third generation Chinese-American. My grandparents suggested my middle name, Yenling, which I have felt more or less disconnected from.
Personally I feel very detached from my middle name because the western society I grew up in, has its own defined culture is separated from ethnicity. In contrast, I may associate with Yenling if I live in Asia. There are people who have similar stories, not only based on race but by choice, and was surprised to discover many people close to me had changed their names.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the process of interviewing each person and learning about the people in the community. It is amazing to see how much we can relate with one another in the big picture, and yet how each of our stories is so unique in themselves. This is an ongoing project for anyone who wants to be included in the installation. I look forward to meeting everyone who is interested in sharing their story!
Linocuts // 2013
When my family believed my 93-year-old grandmother in Singapore to be on her deathbed, my mother and I flew across the Pacific to say our goodbyes. Before reconnecting, I felt so far away from this part of my identity; my mother is Singaporean and my father is Chinese-Canadian, but growing up in the suburbs in California, my roots still hadn’t touched where theirs were first planted. I longed to know what it meant to be Singaporean. If I could learn this, not only would it bring me closer to that half of my family, but closer to that piece of myself.
As soon as my grandmother began sharing stories, I was captivated and instinctively began taping them. Her stories drew me closer to her, and also drew me a picture of the only Singapore I knew. Then, after getting together with the rest of my Singaporean family (aunts, uncles, cousins), pieces of that picture were erased and redrawn. That was when I began making connections between the unparalleled development the country has seen in its 50 years of existence and its seemingly indefinable national identity. The urgency I felt when rushing to Singapore to capture my grandmother’s stories before she passes is the same urgency I feel now in capturing the story of Singapore celebrating its 50th birthday while searching for its sense of self. If we don’t tell this story as it’s happening, it will inevitably come to a close as others begin. — Chloe Lee, Director