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
Singapore is experiencing a self-proclaimed identity crisis. Between the advent of its 50th anniversary as an independent nation and the death of its first Prime Minister earlier in the year, the country is deep in self-reflection.
This little island nation has gone through big changes in its only decades-long lifetime. Singapore went from British colonization to Japanese occupation in World War II before merging with Malaysia in 1963. In the fall of 1965, the country was expelled from this merger, left to begin again as an “accidental nation.”
But what happened next was no accident; the country fast-forwarded from third-world to first, growing to surpass the U.S. in GDP per capita, topping all of Asia in quality of living standards, and having one of the lowest crime rates in the world. Now, its citizens - the majority a mix of Chinese, Malay, and Indian - are taking pause to consider what makes them, Singaporeans, Singaporean.
In this film, we follow along as they explore their national identities through the art of personal storytelling - stories of their own, as well as stories they’ve only been told. We not just spend time with those directly tasked with defining Singapore’s national identity through the country’s SG50 nationwide branding campaign, but also with those more indirectly and perhaps unknowingly involved.
In the end, we may see that Singaporeans are collectively developing their national identity just as successfully and deliberately as they’ve developed their country. Or, we may learn that a national identity cannot consciously be created, and that while you can’t write it, you can record it.