March 1, 2021 - Artist Cinemas - Crashing into the Future: Week #2
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March 1, 2021

Artist Cinemas

Crashing into the Future: Week #2
Haonan Wang, Bubble, 2020

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Join us on e-flux Video & Film for the online screening of Haonan Wang’s Bubble (2020), the second installment of Crashing into the Future, on view from Monday, March 1 through Sunday, March 7, 2021 and featuring an interview with the filmmaker conducted by Lawrence Xiao.

Crashing into the Future is a six-part program of films and interviews put together by Cao Fei. It is the fifth cycle of Artist Cinemas, a long-term, online series of film programs curated by artists for e-flux Video & Film

Artist Cinemas presents Crashing into the Future
Week #2: Monday, March 1–Sunday, March 7, 2021
Haonan Wang, Bubble, 2020
14:29 minutes

Bubble is an urban tale of love and sacrifice set in a mysterious restaurant hidden in an alleyway. On an ordinary night, a man eats a lot of herbal plants in front of a woman, transforming himself into her food.

Excerpt from Haonan Wang in conversation by Lawrence Xiao

Lawrence Xiao (LX):
You used a lot of special effects in post-production in order to achieve the boyfriend’s fantastical transformation. Can you please tell us more about this process? And also, how you managed to create this sense of extreme hunger in the film?

Haonan Wang (HW):
I wanted to build a sort of shared emotion through sex, resulting in a film that was filled with desire, hunger, and lust. In this sense, the two scenes in the film of eating plants and later eating the boyfriend are actually sex scenes.

As for the transformation scene, at first I created a lot of conceptual designs. At the time, I had watched Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain (2006), where some of the stop-motion animation incorporated images of humans and trees joining together. I think there’s always an element of humor in stop-motion animation. Watching a man turning into a plant is in fact a kind of black humor in itself. So, at first, I actually wanted to use stop-motion animation instead of full-on 3D effects. But after a lot of experimentation, we found that it wasn’t going to work. And the costs were way overbudget. So I decided to try out 3D effects, and found that this route was also rather interesting. We combined the use of physical effects and CGI effects. Initially, we had the actor put on a vest in order to make a mold of his body; eventually it became a superhero-like vest that mixed fresh and fake flowers. Then we mailed the vest to the 3D artist, so he could work on the effects while referencing the details. Not to exaggerate, but we probably tweaked the 3D effects at least a hundred times.

LX: 
Another interesting point is that your story takes place in the alleyways of a city. In this age of rapid development, as denizens of a city, we sometimes wonder why we have to live and gather in the city at all, and not in the countryside. What are your thoughts on this?: 

HW:
I think living in the city does give me a lot of interesting ideas to express via film. But actually I don’t particularly like city life, and if I had the chance, I would probably leave.

Watch the video and read the full conversation here.

About the program 
Various signs around us suggest that we have reached a moment where the contradictions accumulated by our history can no longer be sustained. A sense of déjà vu takes hold. Once again, the uneasy organisms of this planet look up and gaze at the cosmos as they hastily crash into the future...

Crashing into the Future brings together a selection of six works by video artists from China born in the late 1980s and 1990s. Most of the featured artists studied or lived abroad for some time, and their artistic practices reflect their diverse influences. The works are presented under three thematic junctions—Monstrosity, Ghost Worker, and Cosmos in Flux—that, together, constitute a kind of rhizome wherein meaning is produced in the space between the nodes. 

Crashing into the Future is a program convened by Cao Fei as part of the series Artist Cinemas. It will run for six weeks from February 22 through April 5, 2021, screening a new film each week accompanied by an interview with the filmmaker(s) conducted by Cao Fei and invited guests.

About Artist Cinemas  
Artist Cinemas is a new e-flux platform focusing on exploring the moving image as understood by people who make film. It is informed by the vulnerability and enchantment of the artistic process—producing non-linear forms of knowledge and expertise that exist outside of academic or institutional frameworks. It will also acknowledge the circles of friendship and mutual inspiration that bind the artistic community. Over time this platform will trace new contours and produce different understandings of the moving image.

For more information, contact program@e-flux.com.

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