Interview: Kang Ma
Luca Curci talks with Kang Ma during the 6th Edition of ROME INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2023, at Medina Art Gallery.
“I’m Kang Ma, I’m a human being born and raised on the planet Earth, a visual artist, currently my interests lie in the topic of “translation and mistranslation” and the exploration of the possibility of the interactive web”
Luca Curci – What are you currently working on?
Kang Ma – My primary focus currently revolves around the development of a website called abunchoffiles.com. The website is not yet online, but it aims to serve as a platform for me to publish web-based interactive artwork periodically. I am actively engaged in the project and dedicating my time and effort towards its successful implementation.
LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
KM – Although I studied industrial design in college, I did not enjoy it and eventually switched to graphic design. However, I found that creating commissioned commercial works for clients was not particularly fulfilling. Nonetheless, I found the theories, methods, and tools that I learned during my graphic design program to be fascinating. I realized that I could use these skills to observe and express my own ideas to the world, and engage with people in a meaningful way. This is the direction I am currently pursuing. Regarding the factors that have influenced me the most, I would say that my experience of studying in grad school, the people I have interacted with, and studying in a foreign country have all had a significant impact on my personal and professional development.
LC – What issues do you intend to deal with in the future?
KM – The topic of “translation and lost in translation” has always been an interest of mine, and I plan to continue exploring it in the future. The unexpected creation of new meanings and forms through the process of translation and the mistakes that occur within the process of translation fascinate me. Additionally, interactive web art involves coding is also what I have a passion for. Compared to traditional media, websites or web pages as artworks can help me approach a larger group of the audience more easily, and the interactivity of web art can make the audience engage with my work as participants, instead of only as viewers.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
KM – Over the years, I have found that improvisation has remained a critical element of my creative process. However, I have noticed a shift in my approach to aesthetics and the overall visual impact of my work. I used to place a great deal of emphasis on making my work look good and aesthetically pleasing, I now prioritize communication and the potential of “bad forms” over traditional notions of visual appeal. In my experience, sometimes the imperfections and unexpected elements of a piece can make it more compelling and thought-provoking than a perfectly polished and aesthetically pleasing work. By focusing more on the message and intent behind the work rather than simply the surface-level appearance, I believe that I am able to more effectively communicate with my audience and create pieces that resonate on a deeper level.
LC – How do you feel when you see your work completed?
KM – Upon completing a piece of work, I experience a sense of anticipation and eagerness to share it with others and gauge their reactions. For me, the completion of a piece is not the end goal, but rather a stage in the process of creating a work that is intended to be experienced and interpreted by an audience. I am particularly interested in how viewers receive and interpret my work, as well as what messages or meanings they derive from it. Ultimately, the completion of a piece of work is only a small part of the creative process, and true fulfillment comes from engaging with others and creating a dialogue that allows for new and meaningful insights to emerge.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this exhibition? How did it inspire you?
KM – I found the concept of the “mixed identity” exhibition to be intriguing. As a person with a strong interest in the topic of translation and the complexity of connecting across cultures and identities, I feel a personal connection to the theme. Mixed identity implies being in-between or obscure, I find the concept of anything being in-between or obscure very intriguing, as it frequently signifies the potential for the emergence of something new and unique.
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this event? How is it connected to the theme of the entire exhibition?
KM – I have showcased five videos at this exhibition, two of which are connected to the theme of “mixed identity”, while the other three explore other concepts. The two videos, titled “Collage Project – One (Image of) Dollar for One Image of Work” and “Collage Project – Untitled”, examine the phenomenon of people valuing the image of things over the things themselves. Through these works, I wanted to encourage the audience to consider the extent to which images can replace real things. This is loosely tied to the theme of “mixed identity” in that the images people display to others, for instance, the images people post on social media, are also a kind of images people create to replace themself as an actual person, they are the flat “identities” that people want others to identify them as, however, the actual people themselves are more complex, more “3-dimensional”, more obscure, more in between, and mixed… The other three videos, “25 Feet”, “Love Letter”, and “Hate Mail”, are not directly connected to the theme of the exhibition but serve to further blur the lines and create a sense of complexity and impurity within the show. The inclusion of these works is intentional, as I believe that they contribute to the overall mixed identity of the exhibition. While I have other works that are more directly connected to the theme of “mixed identity”, such as my sound art project titled “Around South East Coast And East Coast Karaoke Symphony Orchestra”, these pieces were not included in the exhibition due to their formats and media. In this project, I interpret the sounds of a foreign language with the syllables of my mother tongue and use my unprofessional mouth to interpret instrumental sounds in professionally and industrially produced musical pieces, resulting something in between English and Chinese, in between instrumental sounds and human voice, it’s mixed, impure and obscure.
LC – Would you suggest a collaboration with us? What do you think about our services?
KM – I would be very interested in collaborating with you in the future, and it would be great if there are opportunities for me to participate in person and give workshops or talks. I think your services are great and provide valuable opportunities for artists to showcase their work and connect with other artists and audiences.
LC – What are your suggestions about our services? Is there something more we can provide to artists?KM – While I think your current services are excellent, I believe it would be even better if artists were able to showcase interactive works such as web art. For example, you could consider installing computers in the gallery during exhibitions, allowing the audience to interact with the artworks on their own.
LC – What is your idea about ITSLIQUID GROUP?
KM – I have a very positive opinion of ITSLIQUID GROUP and appreciate the opportunities it provides for artists from diverse backgrounds to showcase their works and connect with each other. I believe that organizations like ITSLIQUID GROUP play a crucial role in supporting and promoting the arts, and I am grateful for the work that you do.