In this series of essays I discuss my visual arts practice and many issues that inform or affect it. I talk about my work: what it looks like, how and why I make it, who or what inspires me, what media I use, and how I came to work this way. Because of their great importance to my work, I look at contemplation and spirituality in art—specifically as they pertain to subjects and methods for my own arts practice—and draw parallels with twentieth-century approaches, medieval European belief systems, and East Asian philosophical concepts. This leads me to a discussion of interpretation of works of art and the challenges associated with creating a verbal understanding and interpretation of work that is primarily nonverbal.
Because most of my recent work is digital, I talk a great deal about my attitudes towards digital media and my rationale for choosing the computer as a tool for making works of fine art. Using digital media as a starting point, I look at questions of disciplinarity in my creative practice—specifically the fact that I don’t think of myself as a medium-specific artist—and issues about materiality as I try to define for myself what exactly constitutes an art “object.” Furthermore I explore definitions of and methods for creating digital work, and critique some contemporary trends in digital arts practice. I also look at some of the historical parallels to and influences on such trends.
I discuss craft, technical skill, and their similarity to Asian martial arts practices, and how my attention to these is in contrast to the prevailing approach in contemporary art of making cerebral work that comes from a basis in theory. I take aim at stereotypes and misconceptions of the artist’s life, many of which I find to be counterproductive to the making of art.
Postcolonialism makes a guest appearance—mostly as a target for my ire—because its dominant approach of creating binary oppositions tends to drown out the voices of people such as myself who have culturally hybrid identities. In talking about my influences, I look at my Western training and Asian-European heritage, and sources of inspiration from the continuum of high-to-low culture in East Asia and the West.
My attempts to answer the question of why I make art revolve around issues of compulsion and desire, the role of the artist in society, and the fragmentation of experience that seems to pervade post-industrial life.