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January 11, 2020

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CAMLab’s Project Lead Icey Lin and Professor Eugene Wang discuss plans to explore Chinese art and culture through innovative multimedia platforms

LIN: What initiated you to establish the Harvard CAMLab?
Wang: We are stepping into an age when words cannot fully grasp the power of an image. In other words, only vision can emulate the power of vision and only “post-visionary” language — amplified by cutting-edge technology like AR, VR and more to come — can unveil the imaginative space even beyond vision. Thus, to uncover the visual scheme of a Chinese vision, we chose to found a Chinese art media lab, who — built upon the solid humanities and academic foundation of Harvard University — aims to utilize new media technology of the global present, to reconstruct an artistic narrative of the Chinese past, and drive the imagination of the human future.

Lin: Why did you choose Nan Shufang as your partner in Shanghai?
Wang: Rather than CAMLab choosing Nan Shufang, or vice versa, it is more like our shared perspective chose us. The call to rediscover a Chinese tradition and reconfigure its imagination has brought CAMLab and Nan Shufang together. CAMLab as a “newly born baby” strives to find partners who resonate with our vision and share our ambition. Nan Shufang has joined our journey and we welcome more onboard.

Lin: What functions do you vision to realize for CAMLab?
Wang: “CAMLab” speaks for us. One way to understand it is: “C” stands for “Consciousness,” “A” stands for “Aesthetics” and “M” stands for “Materiality.” There can be many ways to interpret the three letters yet they nonetheless all speak to what we care about at the moment. Aside from content-wise, CAMLab hopes to provide a collaborative space for young talent and cultivate a vibrant culture for creative minds.

Lin: What’s the biggest challenge that CAMLab has encountered since its establishment?
Wang: We wouldn’t call it a challenge but an exciting point to discover and bring together young talent across the globe. Beneath the big names of an educational background and titles, we look for creative minds who are keen to innovate and have a bigger care for humanity.

Lin: Different from other art projects based in China, what are the advantages for CAMLab?
Wang: We collate first-hand academic resources from leading institutes in this world, including but not limited to Harvard, MIT, Columbia, Tsinghua and more. CAMLab’s creative projects along with technology and media methods are deeply situated in an international perspective and consolidated by thorough academic research. Meanwhile, we keep an open mind for innovative ideas and technological currents in the art world and beyond.

Lin: How does the visual version of “Peony Pavilion” differ from the traditional one?
Wang: It is usually the most simple that is most touching. Peony Pavilion tells many elemental aspects of the beauty of human nature: The love of a teenage girl, the search for a spiritual home, the convergence and inversion of a dream and reality, and much more. At CAMLab, we delve into the mental-searching process in this theatrical classic and map out its dreamy aspect onto art objects. Augmented by cutting-edge media and projection technology, it is the experiential aspect of what we call an “object play” that resonates with a universal audience and calls for an all-inclusive joining-in.

Lin: When will the “Peony Pavilion” be presented to the public? In what kind of mode?
Wang: CAMLab is in constant discussion with Nan Shufang on an ideal and feasible deliver date for “Peony Pavilion” and we encourage the media and audiences to stay tuned.


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