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Interview: Jiageng Lin's Workflow

Interview: Jiageng Lin's Workflow

Lives and works in Rochester, New York

Tell us about yourself, how did you become an artist?

I like cars when I was a little boy and I was trying to find a way to remember the cars that I saw on the street. I didn’t own a camera or a cellphone at that time, the only way for me to ‘revisit’ them is to draw them down on paper, so I asked my parent to send me to learn drawing and painting. I spent a lot of time drawing cars and stuff that I like during my childhood. My dream at that time was to become a sport-car designer. That dream faded away as I grow up. In college, I majored in advertising, not something that I was really interested in. I remember one day in a boring class, my mind just drifted away and a thought came into my mind. How do people take pictures in the past? I mean I saw color negatives in my home when I was a boy, but I don’t know how does the whole thing work, so I decided to figure it out and begin to take pictures with an old film camera.

Installation Detail View

What is your background? and how did it inform the focus of your creative exploration or the medium you're currently working with?

As I said previously, I learned drawing for a long time during my childhood. Learning how to draw influence me a lot. The desire of drawing begins with the wish to collect memories. I think this background did influence me to choose photography as my main creative medium now. Photography has the ability to quickly document a scenes and help me to recreate memories. I’m very geeking about the technical part of photography as while and enjoy experiment with different photographic materials which leads to my current and ongoing project.

Different experiments and inspirations in the studio

What ideas interested you in the beginning of your practice, which ideas have you continued to explore, and where have they led you?

The idea of just playing, playing with materials, doing all kinds of experiment.

Trying to make ‘new’ pictures or trying to find ‘new’ visual stimulations.

Trying to communicate and express my feeling and hope it touch others.

I like the free-flowing process during the beginning period of my new project which make my workflow more dynamic and free of limitation.

Different experiments and inspirations in the studio

Who were and are the biggest sources of your inspiration?

Mr./Mrs. Internet.

Different experiments and inspirations in the studio

Where do you find inspiration?

Library, Internet, Museum and galleries, Broadcast, Nature… Sometimes an idea just pops up when I was running outside.

Different experiments and inspirations in the studio

Is there are a single work, project, or series that is pivotal in your current trajectory?

Yes or no. Even if my early works were very different from my current work. I still consider them relevant and the new works keep growing on the old works. I believe there is a strong connection within them. However, I would say ‘Say Cheese!’ is probably where I start to find my language. It’s the first project that I didn’t take pictures and working with found materials. I also work with installation and a little bit of collage in that project. It’s the project that helps me find the power of photography outside the realm of just taking pictures.

Detail View (35mm Film Cassette)

How did it begin? and how did it evolve?

I started the project ‘Say cheese!’ when I first arrived in the United States to attend graduate school. It was the first time that I live abroad by myself. The whole environment is different to me. I quickly found that I’m not fully confident to work in the way that I used to which is going outside and taking pictures. My mind was stuck a little bit during that time. One day, I was wandering in our school’s library, I came across a lot of old camera manuals. l spent a lot of time with them. The images that were inside those manuals fascinated me. By changing their context and presenting them in both book and installation form, I consider the work as a way of looking back into the history of photography and the relationship between human and photography. When the images are rearranged in a carefully considered manner, new relations and meanings could be created.

Detail View

What were important lessons in the process that you’ve carried forward with you?

Be patient and always stay motivated.

'Say Cheese!' Photobook Detail View

What are you working on now?

Currently, I’m working on a project about nature. Nature is always something that I’m interested in. I spent a lot of time last summer taking pictures outside. I was printing in the darkroom the whole winter and have collected a lot of wasted ‘unusable' darkroom prints and test strips. The material quality of the imperfect prints and the images that they carried speaks something unique to me.

Different experiments and inspirations in the studio

If you could go back in time to the very beginning of your art practice and give your younger self a single piece of advice what would it be?

If you are not sure whether something works or not, just do it first and figure it out later.

'Say Cheese!' Photobook Detail View

About the Artist

Based in Rochester, New York

Jiageng Lin is a Chinese artist currently based in Rochester, NY. Jiageng’s work asks the questions: How do we see the world? And, how does photography shape and form our memory and mind? By integrating different mediums such as photo books, collages, and installations is a way for him to push the boundaries of photography. Jiageng’s work has been exhibited and published internationally.

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