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TANG Maohong Interview

Interviewer: FU Xiaodong Translator: Andrea Keller, Proofread by Sachiel Yuu 2012

FU Xiaodong: How did you start your work? Was there something like a key moment? What is the source of the emotions in your images? Hormones? Sexual experience? Or is it the feelings and longings of everyday life?

TANG Maohong: Besides the accumulation in everyday life, the realization of many images still needs a fake surrounding, on which one can depend and say: "Okay, mess it up you daft!", and then just begin. I consider the source of these images from a kind of potential desire to transform. This kind of mood is latent and is accumulated in moments of despair or dissatisfaction. No matter what, they are not from a source of happiness; they are coming from the dark side.

FU Xiaodong: How could you obtain and accumulate these intensive images? How did you transform them during the work process?

TANG Maohong: This matter seems to me more like a hobby. After a habit has become a hobby, it basically resembles an instinct.

FU Xiaodong: Do you feel any loss during the process of doing animation? If you were able to realize 100% everything, how would that world look like?

TANG Maohong: The disturbing thing is that at the end you always make the outcome too plain. The even more disturbing fact is that you fail to stop consciously such tendency beforehand. The technical issues are of secondary importance. The top one is the baffling disappearance of the kind of reckless momentum. I have so emotionally prepared the table for gambling. Yet I throw a dice and it goes out of the window. Does that mean I don't want the game? Or I am not concentrated enough? It's very confusing. If I could realize a 100%? That would be like Chow Yun-Fat in his film God of Gamblers. So awesome!

FU Xiaodong: Which software do you use? How does the production process look like? What is your part of the work and what is the assistant's responsibility?

TANG Maohong: For coloring and connecting and blending clips, I use USAnimation, a software which is often to produce animation sequences. Furthermore, there is Photoshop and After Effect, which all are the ones you have to use. The process starts more or less with ideas put on storyboard sketches, followed by key frames and a timing table. After adding the animation frames, you scan them in color and do the editing work. Finally, you combine the music with the images and then export the file. It is basically the same process with animation companies. I am involved in every stage of the work while my assistant is mainly responsible for adding the animation frames and scanning.

FU Xiaodong: How do you control all the images you have used? How do you understand the accurate expression of an image? What would you like to express with them? Is it a certain feeling? In what kind of state do you feel keeping the image and the feeling?

TANG Maohong: If you maintain a curiosity strong enough and indulge yourself always in a world of recurrent dreams and being ravishingly enchanted, the images at hand will always be anaesthetised by your imagination. An "accurate expression" is not the target. It is still better to have some elasticity. How could you transform a head to achieve such "accuracy" like the artworks of Cultural Revolution!

FU Xiaodong: How do you achieve coherence in your images? The juxtaposed screens give the people a kind of dazzling feeling. How do you use time in animations? What would you like to maintain and continue as your personal characteristics?

TANG Maohong: Actually, these images don't need any effort for anyone pondering on their coherence. You just look at them and follow them. Afterwards there will be a basic order on its own.

FU Xiaodong: Where do you see the weak points in Chinese animation? It seems you used compositions of some Bird and Flower painting from the Song dynasty in order to transform the foreign import. In your view, how should we fix the problems of Chinese animation?

TANG Maohong: It seems that there is not yet something called "Chinese animation". For me, this country hasn't prepared for its own animations so far.

FU Xiaodong: Where do you feel lies the unique language of animation? Where are the differences compared to other media of contemporary art? What is it that attracts you on the first place? How do you work with such medium?

TANG Maohong: Animation can digest all the mess of ideas which I normally accumulate. It is a relatively reliable channel: It has a large capacity as well as the ability to express a certain idea sufficiently clearly. You can also express a rather clear thing in a muddle-headed way. You are allowed to do it in an unstrained, very emotional way. It provides a hint: You can change a brave man and this is awesome!

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