VIP - VideoChannel Interview Project

Zhu, Xiaowen

Xiaowen Zhu
Chinese videomaker


Interview: 10 Questions

1. Tell me something about your life and the educational background

My name is Xiaowen Zhu. I’m a video artist. I received my BA in Film, TV Production and Media Arts from Tongji University, China. Currently I am an MFA candidate major in Art Video in Syracuse University, USA. During my undergraduate study, I attended an exchange program in Academy of Art and Design Offenbach in Germany.

I am a very dynamic person and enjoy cultural exchange and different experiences.

2. When, how and why started you filming?

I loved writing, drawing and playing music when I was a child. Moving images seemed to be the perfect way to combine all my sensory interests. I made my first short film in college. It just felt natural to make it happen at that point, since I had passion for film for years.

3. What kind of subjects have your films?

My films are often about international identity in a global context, how travelling and cutural exchange influence people’s understanding of the world. I am also very interested in human relationship communicated via technology methods and how language becomes barrier for us to reflect the reality.

4.How do you develop your films, do you follow certain principles, styles etc?

I usually start with an intriging vision in my mind, then expand it all over the place or make a free drop from my starting point. Then through writing and sketching I come up with a structure and define my path. Depending on the subject, sometimes the process is more logic and framed, sometimes it’s purely intuitive and improvisational.

I don’t have general principles for my entire artistic practice, but each project may follow certain path. My style is developed through many years’ practice and my own aesthetic taste, which is also rooted in my understanding of the value of moving images as visual art.

5. Tell me something about the technical equipment you use.

The benefit of being in an art school is that I can check out different equipment for various projects. Usually I work with Sony HD camera or Canon EOS camera, but sometimes I also like to use web cam or low-resolution spy camera, it really depends on what I’m trying to express and communicate.

We have good editing stations and green screen studio in school, that’s always very helpful.

In post production I work with Final Cut Pro, After Effects and Nuke. I also create my own soundtrack with Logic Pro.

6. The field of “art and moving images” (one may call it videoart or also differently) is representing an important counter position in contemporary art. Tell me more about your personal position and how you see the future of this field ( your personal future and the future of “art and moving images”)

Moving image is a category, not a stereotype. Any category, in a linguistic sense, is temporary. I don’t believe in stereotype, or I’m not interested in creating stereotype or repeating existent framework. Future is not a promise for innovation or originality. If I want to create something new, I’d better do it right now.

Historically, the patterns of the development of emerging media were very similar. Therefore, I don’t see the future of this field to be a starburst, nor a black hole. Rather, it’s about what each individual makes out of it.

7. How do you finance your films?

I apply for creative grant in my school, occasionaly I get sponsorship from museum such as ZKM to support my project. When I won festival awards, I also got money for my next project.

Sometimes I’m involved in commercial projects, that’s another way to earn money, probably a faster way too.

8. Do you work individually as a video artist/film maker or do you work in a team? If you have experience in both, what is the difference, what do you prefer?

Mostly I’m very independent in developing ideas and realizing concepts. But for some project I also collaberate with computer artists, architects, 3-D designers, motion graphic designers, programmers, and musicians. It’s very exciting to work with talented people who share the common aesthetic value and care about my project, and if I’m working on a big project that requires various technical skills, it’s impossible to do everything on my own.

I don’t have a preference. Working alone or collaborating with others are both awesome experience. I think it just depends on the nature of the project. Sometimes I need to be concentrated and exclusive or even secret, sometimes it’s good to have people work with me.

9. Who or what has a lasting influence on your film/video making?

I don’t know if I’ve ever searched for a lasting influence from outside or inside. My decisions are more based in current situation. I also don’t have a favourite artist of all time, but I do get influence from different person and situation all the time.

10. What are your plans or dreams as a film/video maker?

I want to be free and capable of making my own projects. I want to make good and sincere work that makes people think. Practical issues such as getting social recognitions and financial rewards, in my opinion, are related to the quality of the work and how I position myself in the society.

Can works of yours viewed online besides on CologneOFF or VideoChannel? Where?

List some links & resources