Chan, Vienne

Vienna Chan
videomaker from Hongkong

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biography
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Interview: 10 questions

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

I was born in Hong Kong and went to university in Montreal, Canada, where I studied Cultural Studies. After I graduated, I worked a standard office job for a few years before going onto graduate studies in the Philosophy of Religion, specialising in Jewish Thought. Currently, I’m based in Berlin.

2. When, how and why started you filming?

Around 2006, in between reading and writing papers for my degree in Religion, I started playing with a video camera that I got as a gift. I always wanted to be an artist but I never considered it as a realistic option. In 2007, I decided to take a break from academia and moved to Shanghai for a year – that was when I started to make videos.

3. What kind of subjects have your films?

It’s hard to find an over-arching subject through my work because I am interested in the way things and situations present themselves because their existence is independent from me. That having been said, my perspective obviously affects much of these presentations and perhaps a feeling of inevitability and destruction can be traced through some of my work.

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

I don’t really follow any styles or consciously go by any principles; however, I am a big fan of Frederick Wiseman’s approach in documentary film, in which he enters the subject without any plans and simply begins to shoot and observe. From that abundance of footage, Wiseman then finds the story of his film. On a smaller scale, I would like to think I work in a similar way – the process of observation is the starting point for feeling that precedes analysis.

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

Prosumer stuff – portability is key, because so much of what I do is spontaneous. My Panasonic PVGS 500 is my friend and it’s always with me. Then I edit on my laptop.

6. What are the chances of new media for the genre film/video in general and you personally?

I think it is confusing to group film and video together in this context because the method of production is essentially different, and I consider video as new media even though what comes out of it can resemble film – of course, “new media” would also need to be defined, as “new” is a relative term, a particular point in history. Personally, I think this is all quite exciting and while I can’t say precisely what I will do with it, I hope to use it to explore my delineations as an artist.

7. How do you finance your films?

Personal savings, odd jobs. Other than a camera and computer, my videos don’t require much money – most of it just demands that I am able to put in the time, obviously I need money to live, but this variable can be flexible. I think for me, that’s the main difference between film and video.

8. Do you work individually as a video artist/film maker or do you work in a team?

I mostly work on my own, and occasionally, I collaborate with sound artists.

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

Cy Twombly. I remember looking at his pencil drawings and thinking how delicate they were, and the idea of the delicate has since stayed with me.

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

I want to be more than a video maker. I want to be an artist.

A small selection of my work can be viewed at:
http://www.artreview.com/profile/Vienne