Biography

Lingjie Wang was born in 1984 in Shanghai and Jingfang Hao was born in 1985 in Zhaoyuan, Shandong Province. They both studied industrial design at same university where they got to know each other. And then, they advanced their studies in France together. After graduation, the two decided to stay in France, focusing on their own works. Since 2009, their works have been exhibited in the Palais de Tokyo (Palace of Tokyo) in Paris, Centre National d’Art et de Culture Georges-Pompidou (Georges-Pompidou National Center of Art and Culture), other art museums, different galleries and art institutions in Germany and Switzerland, etc. They currently reside in France; however, since the increase of attentions and exhibitions in China, they often fly back and forth. Lingjie Wang and Jingfang Hao ‘s works are often related to the minor changes in the natural world. Their main media include installations, videos, etc.

 

Distance Observer of Time

Text by Johanna Yuting Lou
Translated by Sue Lin, Rinoa Zhuang

 

I met Lingjie Wang and Jingfang Hao at the M Art Space where they were holding their first solo exhibition in China. Entering into the gallery, I saw them working barefoot stirringly in the exhibition hall. The floor was dirty, but they said they used to barefoot.

The artist couples are so fond of nature, they are ‘light catchers’ for they are very sensitive to the changes of light. The invisible and untouchable light, through their magical hands, becomes unpredictable which makes audiences wondering if they should be amazed by our mother nature or by the delicate observation of the couples.

Stepping into the dark cabin, I could saw the parallel lights shining from the installations of three walls forming a cube in the center of the exhibition hall. The installation hided below was spraying white “smoke” at times and creating a dream-like atmosphere. What’s more interesting is that when you walk into the center of the cube formed by light and look toward each of the light sources, you would discover a mysterious “passageway”. The parallel lights shone from the square light source installation form a real, yet also imaginary “time tunnel” in the air. It was as if attracting the observers to walk into another dimension. In the dark, quiet, and mysterious space, you may even felt that it was another dimensional space. This might be a little scary; however, it was even more exciting and touching. You could try to intercept light by stretching out your hand. When light is captured in the palms, there is an energy that is gradually melting.

For two artists with science and engineering backgrounds, the technical content of this piece of art was not as highly unpredictable as imagined. Was that means anyone could do this if he or she was not too bad in physics and their practical ability is passable? Maybe yes, maybe not. The biggest technical challenge of this work was the difference between actual effects and the original psychological expectations.

The partnership of Lingjie Wang and Jingfang Hao works like this: they came up ideas of the project together, and then Jingfang Hao carried the concept to completeness, while Lingjie Wang focused on the concrete operations and implementation. Artists more or less were perfectionists, and Lingjie Wang, a former designer, was even more so. The technological principles of the artworks were not difficult, but there was not any ready-made material and the size and shape of conoscopic light-like materials are all too small, so everything had to be self-designed and self-made. The two, who was been living abroad for a long time, are completely unfamiliar with the domestic market, while the feasibility of online shopping and the quality and quantity of materials could not be controlled at all, and the size of the materials bought are either often deviated or do not fit on the interface. And often, if something is overlooked, they still needed to be hurry to find materials at the last moment. Sometimes doing an artwork is like a science experiment, it is not 100% perfect presentation from principle to practice and any minor errors could cause the artwork fail to achieve the expected effects. Lingjie Wang said that this was the most painful part; some artworks had to be done a few dozen times so as to perfect the details until he reached bare satisfaction. This artwork Light taken a few months’ time from the beginning of its making until completion, and the effect currently displayed  “could be better.”

Interviewing with Lingjie Wang and Jingfang Hao was a meditative process. From the talk, I can felt their peacefulness in facing life and their state of almost being unaware of the world. During their studying period in France, their teacher liked their artworks and recommended them to participate in various exhibitions on and off campus. They kept receiving favorable comments from curators and critics and invitations followed one after another. However, with the classic “leftist” tradition in France, the constraints and disadvantages of art creations would not bring an overturn in one night for artists. It seems as if it does not matter how the external world changes, they only focus on their own tempo of life and creation.

Therefore, they were artists who seem like living outside time. The works did not have clear characteristics of times and even had not direct connections with social phenomena. It was a type that enters the viewers’ field of vision with an eternal gesture once it appears. “We try not to judge others with a standpoint. Good or bad, right or wrong, and also including political themes, the dark side of society, etc. Many people had explored all of these. If we did not focus on social and political problems, we might had even greater feelings. Of course, these were all related to personal interests.”

At the same time, the science and engineering backgrounds neither became a hindrance to creations nor are they deliberately enlarged. Although looking at their art pieces, the art pieces are always inseparable from science experiments. “Actually, art creations are for people to see, you cannot cover up anything, your personality, strengths, and weaknesses will all be exposed. And the more effort you put in, the more you are exposed.” Most of their foreign classmates turned to other career paths, such as design, because of life constraints. However, in their view, to do design you must be bound to certain requirements and people, which is an abnormally painful thing. Although creating is hard, it is also an enjoyment at the same time.

The settling of time is insurmountable. Separating themselves from the time and space at the moment had helped Lingjie Wang and Jingfang Hao see even more secrets. Just as the heading of the exhibition A Round Sun, A Spot said, when the perspective is far enough, the extremely huge sun will still seem like a round spot.

 

Q: Many of your works are greatly related to time. Why are you so interested in this concept?

A: First of all, the theme of this exhibition is related to time and space. When you look at your skin carefully, after a long time, it would seem like there is a thin layer of halo; however, it disappears immediately for it does not even exist, so we wanted to make an installation such as Light Cube. Our attitude is very basic, just like drawing is from a point to a line and a line to a side. We also do not want to give too much explanation to the pieces, but let the pieces speak for themselves.

Q: What do you think is the relationship between your own art pieces and the times?

A: Our art pieces are quite detached to this era. We would like to remind people not to limit themselves to this era and not just to see the surface of things, but to see deeper, and you will see differently. People won’t expect artists to resolve social issues. Our art pieces are Chinese; it’s just that no Chinese symbols are used. It is the long-standing Chinese spirit that beyond them, a type of peaceful attitude as the power to view the miscellaneous things and, in fact, this is very restrained. Sometimes, using a loud voice to say something has no actual power. In our times, artists like us, who don’t do these things, but also needed. We might have been produced naturally along with the times, and not entering the times itself is also a part of the times. This will be prolonged.