Chief Producer Adrian Cheng Director Cheng Ran Starring Carina Lau
Conceived as a sequel to Cheng’s work Always I Trust in 2014, which was inspired by a computer-generated spam email sent to the artist by an unknown woman, Cheng continues to explore the subject of emotional isolation experienced by city dwellers. Contrary to the previous piece, the new work is taken from the perspective of an abandoned hacked email account that auto-generates unintelligible messages to hundreds of recipients, creating a random list that reverberates in the virtual city network. Starring acclaimed actress Carina Lau, Always I Distrust constructs a fantasy world in a fictional setting, a space for listening and meditation, immersing the viewers in an abstract yet magnificently tactile and interactive time-space, as they traverse liquid spaces and interconnected portals in a nine-minute experience.
Cheng Ran stated, “If urban construction is done by thousands of unknown workers, then the construction of the information city should include these ‘virtual builders’. As rapid urban development brings unprecedented technological changes, the relationship between cities and people has evolved accordingly. This relationship now stands at a new crossroad, over a new horizon.”
Inspired by this concept, Always I Distrust constructs a fantasy world in a fictional setting, a space for listening and meditation, immersing the viewers in an abstract yet magnificently tactile and interactive time-space, as they traverse liquid spaces and interconnected portals in a nine-minute experience.
In the video work, Carina Lau plays different roles to interpret various emotional states of people in the current world. It visually creates a meditation space that is forgotten in the infinite depth of the Internet, wrapping audience’s senses in an environment of constant exploration and allowing them to search for the answer to the confusion of this century.
Affected by the pandemic, Cheng Ran and Carina Lau were unable to produce the work together on site. Unlike the previous video works, artist, director and teams cooperated remotely to complete the cross-regional production, which fully shows the current social situation and the action status.
Carina Lau expressed, “I appreciate Cheng Ran very much and I am pleased to work with him again. This is the first remotely filming experience I have had. The process of using various technologies to conduct in-depth communication with the artist and teams are new and special. I hope to use modern technology, as well as my personal experience and feelings, to produce a work that resonates with the audience.”
Click here to watch behind-the-scenes
Presented by: K11 Art Foundation
Producer: Adrian Cheng
Co-producer: Martin Goya Business
Virtual Reality in Partnership with: HTC VIVE ART
Starring: Carina Lau
Director: Cheng Ran
Executive Director & Director of Photography: Oneness Zeng
Executive Producer: Ricky Choy
Screenwriter: Da Mian
Sound Artist: Wang Wenwei
Visual Artist: Tou Henwan, Rundong Chao, Jinkun Zhu
1st AD: Gerry Li
Camerawoman: Etienne Leung
1st AC & Gaffer: Chau Siu Hang
2nd AC: Kate Siu
Sound man: Tong Fung
Production Assistants: Toky Wang , Billy Chan, Hu Ze
BTS video: Wallas Lin
Born in 1981 in Mongolia, China, the artist participated in the artist residence programme at the Royal Academy of Visual Arts in the Netherlands from 2013 to 2014. He founded the art space, Martin Goya Business, in 2017.
As a representative of China’s new generation of video and cross-media artist, Cheng Ran has been trying different art forms including film, poetry, drama, novel, and installation, etc. Relying on his vibrant mindset, sometimes detached and more often experimental spirit, he is especially good at changing the sense of space, structure and one’s conception towards the original object by undefined use of materials. The switch between texts and visual language created by the artist, allows the audience floating between the reality and the imagination, presenting the poetics of nihilism. In fact, the artist re-patches aesthetic elements as such into his own unique artistic language. His works in general reflect on the existential state of Chinese young generation under the impact of political and cultural globalisation. From these works, we can see that the artist doesn’t pay much attention on the issue of “identity”, but more on discovering new values from diverse cultures brought by globalisation. It seems that the artist’s self-judgment can’t be easily spotted, while this largely speaks of his autonomy in artistic creation. We can also find this distinguished feature in many of Cheng Ran’s works, which always reflect his deep thoughts on universal themes including the boundary, distinction, and even confrontation, marginalisation, etc. in an all-round way.
Cheng Ran’s works have been featured in numerous biennials, group exhibitions and film festivals, including Sydney Opera house (2019); FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art An American City (Transformer Station, Cleveland, 2018); Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 2017; The 63rd International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (Oberhausen, 2017); China Remixed Initiative (The Media School of the University of Indiana, Indiana, 2017); Time Test: International Video Art Research Exhibition (CAFA Art Museum, Beijing, 2016); SALTWATER: a Theory of Thought Forms, the 14th Istanbul Biennial (2015); When I Give, I Give Myself (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, 2015); Inside China - L’Intérieur du Géant (chi K11 art museum, Shanghai, 2015; K11 Art Foundation Pop-Up Space, Hong Kong, 2015; and Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2014); the 8th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennial (Shenzhen, 2014); Decorum: carpets and tapestries by artists (Power Station of Art, Shanghai, 2014); ON|OFF: China’s Young Artists in Concept and Practice (Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, 2013); the 26th European Media Art Festival (Osnabrück, Germany, 2013); Video Art in China – MADATAC (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 2011); The Third Guangzhou Triennial (Guangzhou Museum of Art, Guangzhou, 2008) and The Second Chinese New Media Art Festival (China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, 2004).
For the presentation of Inside China in Paris, Cheng Ran’s video Joss (2013) was projected on the façade of the Palais de Tokyo.
Cheng Ran’s recent solo exhibitions include New Museum, New York; Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), Beijing; Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv; MAC, Belfast; K11 Art Foundation, Hong Kong.
Nomura Emerging Artist Award 2019
Best Director at Madrid Video Art Festival 2017
Nominated for the China’s Best Young Artist Award by AAC Arts, 2015 and 2016
Selected for the Pierre Huber Prize 2015
Nominated for the Stockholm Absolut Art Award 2015
Named as the Best Young Video Artist by the Ran Dian Magazine 2014
M+, Hong Kong; K11 Art Foundation, Hong Kong; DSL Collection, France; Domus Collection, New York; New Century Art Foundation, Beijing; White Rabbit Gallery, Australia; Guangdong Museum of Art, Shanghai Museum of Art, Zhejiang Museum of Art, Borusan Kocabıyık Foundation, Turkey; the Walther Collection, Germany; the Royal Academy of Visual Arts, the Netherlands, and Erlenmeyer Foundation, Switzerland, etc.
Courtesy of the artist
Photo: Studio J/P Robbins
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