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Xin Liu's Inward Expeditions | Art21 "New York Close Up"

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    (airy music)
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    - I believe artworks are self-portraits.
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    It is really difficult not to
    carry yourself in the works.
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    As artists, we tear ourselves
    apart and reassemble it
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    in every piece that we are
    creating and recreating.
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    (airy music continues)
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    I started as an engineer
    basically because I was a student
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    who was good at math and physics.
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    Art later came into my life
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    because the pure pleasure of creating
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    got me quite addicted.
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    I grew up in the northwest part of China
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    in the city that is called Karamay.
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    It means black oil in Uyghur
    language, our local language.
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    My grandparents' generation
    immigrated to that area
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    under the state order to
    develop a city digging oils.
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    I have this memory of
    celebrating oil in my hometown.
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    All the families working on oil
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    will get this souvenirs from the city.
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    It looks like a pyramid,
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    and in the middle of it,
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    there is a drop of actual crude oil.
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    I want to kind of create like
    a magnified version of that,
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    but then at the same time, the bottom
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    of the entire work would
    be a fountain of oil.
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    (motor humming)
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    I kind of like the air bubble one.
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    I feel it's more lively, or
    if I really want a lot of air,
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    I just let the tube expose to the air.
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    (liquid gurgling)
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    I want it to have this
    motion inside the oil pan,
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    giving this sentient existence.
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    It's not just a passive
    material to be extracted.
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    It's a living being
    beneath the earth's crust
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    and transforming the world above it
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    with terror and lots of violence.
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    (airy music)
    (liquid dripping)
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    Growing up in a town that
    essentially was built
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    by immigrants within China,
    I felt very much connected
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    to the idea of going to
    a place for its resource,
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    creating generations and
    prosperity in that sense.
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    That entire idea is parallel
    to space exploration,
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    which is a big part of my practice,
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    the idea of people traveling
    so far going to another planet
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    felt like what my
    grandparents' generation did,
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    when they were in their 20s.
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    (rocket humming)
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    I started working on space exploration
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    when I was a grad
    student in MIT Media Lab.
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    I submitted the proposal and made a robot
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    that carried my tooth and went to space.
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    It was launched as a research project,
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    but for me, it is really
    a performance piece.
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    I want a part of me to go to space.
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    I wanted to create an avatar
    that enabled that journey.
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    - We count down, the rocket
    blazes, engines pulse.
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    Now we sing like birds
    breathing cedar air.
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    We are made of dust and light.
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    (ethereal music)
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    - There's something about expedition.
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    It's very beautiful, very glorious,
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    but at the same time, it's
    a very lonely journey often.
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    Going to Beijing for college
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    and going to the United
    States for grad school,
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    I was trying to arrive at
    somewhere for a better life,
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    but then that journey is just pulling me
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    further away from my home.
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    And I think as humanity,
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    we are imagining all
    this version of futures
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    of living on another
    planet, or living with AI.
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    But I feel like as you're
    leaving your current place,
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    some part of yourself died and shed away.
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    There is this inevitable death
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    that happens along with the
    growth that we so desire for.
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    that happens along with the
    growth that we so desire for.
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    I am thinking a lot about
    my own reproduction.
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    Nowadays, I'm at that age,
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    people are just telling me,
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    "Oh, you should freeze your eggs.
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    Don't even think too much about it."
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    I have a level of alienation
    and fear over that process.
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    (gentle music)
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    Reproduction technologies claim
    to solve all the problems,
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    but in fact dramatically change our body.
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    We freeze time in this biological machine
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    because we need to get a better
    career, we need to go study,
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    we haven't found a good partner yet.
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    I felt like it's all about productivity,
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    whether time is useful or not useful.
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    I'm making this collection
    of objects and sculptures
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    about this fear, referencing
    lots of bone structures,
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    but they're all warped and twisted
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    as I imagine how our body would change
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    through these experiences.
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    And I'm cooling down the
    sculpture to a low temperature,
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    so they're gonna freeze,
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    kind of having frost
    growing on the sculpture.
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    (dark ethereal music)
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    I do believe in science and technology,
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    in lots of its methods,
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    and its ability to transform the world.
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    But at the same time, I'm
    hoping there is a limit,
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    that we can never reach,
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    because it also strips away
    this kind of fundamental idea
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    of what it means to be human.
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    In this calibrated and measured world,
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    art allows beauty and emotions
    to be part of the process.
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    art allows beauty and emotions
    to be part of the process
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    (dark ethereal music continues)
Title:
Xin Liu's Inward Expeditions | Art21 "New York Close Up"
Description:

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Video Language:
English
Team:
Art21
Project:
"New York Close Up" series
Duration:
09:28

English (United States) subtitles

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