On the Artistic Methodology of Digital Ink & Wash Paintings
Water is indispensable to life, and primitive life originated from water. Water is also the source of the spiritual and cultural life of the Chinese nation. Tracing back to the time of Lao Zi, an ancient Chinese philosopher, we have been inspired by his classical oriental wisdom, which is different from western philosophical theories, such as “Flexibility is a sublime virtue”; “The wise find joy in water, while the benevolent find joy in mountains”; “Dripping water wears through a rock, which means to conquer the unyielding with the yielding.” As water is believed to be the most popular and most dynamic symbolic image of the Chinese culture, water has become the basic language of traditional Chinese art of ink & wash paintings.
However, I had never thought so deeply about the source of life until a few years ago when I started to engross myself in ink & water techniques, making me realize about the nature of water. When I observed drops of ink slipping into water, I feasted my eyes on those ever-changing lumps emerging into scenery resembling mountains, animals, plants, characters, etc. I can hardly ignore the wisdom behind the infinite possibilities created by water encompassing and dissolving into minimum units of substance. The flowing water miraculously makes everything in front of my camera possible, and lives come into being.
It dawned on me that it was the living art that I would dream to create. I actually did that by complying with the nature of water, through encompassing, dissolving, transforming and combining eastern and western cultures into one. I put traditional and contemporary culture as a whole by breaking through the symbols and signs we have taken for granted, by toppling down the traditional style and redefining modern fashion. Seeking a new living art among variants enabled me to make works of art with life and soul. I may thus draw the conclusion that as it is to a nation, only by opening up to the outside world, through assimilation, transformation and innovation can the nation be bestowed with dynamics and creativity so as to contribute to the world as a respectable member.
I named my works, created after 2007, “Digital Ink & Wash”. Yet I didn’t give my previous work ‘Chinese Real Estate Dream Series’ the same name although I applied the same ink & wash and digital techniques to them. Why?
I think the digital ink & wash technique should be considered a breakthrough in the field of painting. It is a brand new creation which is not simply a replacement of brush by camera and computer to imitate traditional ink and wash. It is a new tool and the latest state-of-art digital technique to be utilized to explore a new form of painting so as to enrich our visual experiences.
The postproduction phase of my works can be split into two steps: Genes screening and genes reshuffling. This means sorting out useful genes by computer techniques, during which the material can be screened as exquisite dots and lines, to combine them and digitalize them according to the requirement of my artistic creation. Due to powerful computer techniques, this step can transform an abstract into another abstract I desire, or likewise from an abstract to something specific. Because of this, my digital ink & wash paintings are different from the traditional ones in nature. Of course, what is finally presented is the virtual state as a result of the process of reproduction. It looks absolutely natural, but distinctly different. As it is between the species produced from genetic techniques and the ones of natural crosses, you have possibilities beyond your imagination.
The core concept of my works is to redefine the Chinese traditional culture and the essence of ink & wash by digital technology. By photography and digitalization, I elaborate the Taoist philosophy: “Taoism created the law of nature, which was one; the law of nature created yin and yang, based on which everything in the world can be generated, which were two; one plus two equals three, which constitutes everything in the world.” Another one is, “Everything on earth is generated by being, and being comes from nothingness.” A drop of ink can naturally illustrate the doctrine of Taoism, which I adopted to guide me in my works of art. I think it is from abstract to representation, and the image, particularity of ink and water, can be visualized. The ink dropped in water is abstract and nil, but it can be utilized to express my ideas freely between actual and virtual. It was the realistic photography and the virtual digitalization that brought me into a world of fun games, in which I hope to explore new possibilities of the time-honored ink and water cultural heritage of the millennium with contemporary vitality.