Linda Lai answered a question that MFA students at the School of Creative Media posed to her... 創意媒體學院的藝術碩士生向老師提問。
The following is her response to MFA students documented in their proceedings for their annual show “Lucid Walking” (2023. 05.06-28)
How did you find out your direction/path to who you are now? Any suggestions to us who are still discovering that path?
I'm not the type who would plan my life and project a future. I have always been a very curious person: I pay attention to where I am, look around with interest, and allow that to take me to a next step. Things that occur are precious encounters: they become my personal experiences, they are concrete events as much as they are indicative of circulating concepts and concealed systems of knowledge that define how we live. Whatever I did, I did so with an open mind, beyond the rule of immediate success or failure.
My curiosity has taken me a long way. I seem to have done many different things – well, they are different and yet consistent, they diverge yet grounded. I wanted to be in fine arts but I was an English literature major; I wanted to be a teacher but became a youth magazine editor; I wanted to study film, and I became a journalist; I wanted to be in film production and ended up with a PhD in cinema studies; and I wanted to be just a scholar, but then I proliferated into a research-based artist at the same time a writer, a curriculum designer, an activist curator and an initiator of experiments of all sorts. I didn’t exactly find my direction; directions and potentiality find me because I’ve always made myself available.
I suppose I’m an artist in my core – I journey through life with an artist’s sensibility. When I can’t go on, I stop, but what matters often comes back later with the smile of a different face and I’ve got to recognize it. I never planned to be an artist. I must thank SCM – it’s a fertile land of integration where research, teaching, curriculum and co-curriculum design, and my historiographic sensibility are in serious conversations to afford my “artistic career,” if one needs to call it that.
The most difficult to think of being an artist as a career is when you are very much agitated by not getting there or not being important enough. It could be a certain definition of success that has failed you. Take it easy. That could be easy to say. But I always take things easy: I’m not afraid of a “no.” When I take things easy, things would come to me and reveal themselves.
What’s in my art projects is the accumulation of all the things I do big and small in my various capacities. I always have a work just around the corner. They are not just ideas. They are in my interactions with people, academic research, and hobbies. I always write up something, so I have always got something if someone gives me a chance. But I don’t wait until people pay attention to me. I’m an active archivist of many things, and I make things happen. The Writing Machine Collective (2004- ) and the Floating Projects (2015- ) are two examples. The exhibition I did at SCM, “Algorithmic Art: Shuffling Space and Time” (2018.12.26 – 2019.01.11) was to assert my deep concern for the arts and sciences as general knowledge, as I marked SCM’s 20th anniversary.
Being truthful to oneself is very important. It is not easy to be an artist. But then we are in the 21st century with a different view of who the artist is. I find the notion of a full-time artist quite obsolete. We are all multi-tasking. Life is the raw material in art-making, a basic way to overcome alienation. And we should be our own theorist. We’ve all got endless resources. But are we paying attention?
(Hong Kong, April 2023)