As a model minority, immigrant artist living in the U.S., I grew up learning to be silent, hard-working, and to put success above everything else. For the past decade, I have served as a designer - a salaryman - in corporate America, a cog powering a monolith machine. I am seen as an object, a skill set that can be used and just as quickly discarded, just like the mass-produced products that I have been a part of designing to be marketed to people around the world.
Living a creative life is the only way I can live a happier life. It makes me a better husband, a better brother, a better mentor. “A creative life is an amplified life. A happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner - continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you - is a fine art, in and of itself.” It’s a vocation that allows me to run away from my day job, the demons in my head, and turn it into something transformative.
“A creative life is an amplified life. A happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner - continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you - is a fine art, in and of itself.” - Elizabeth Gilbert
These two lives as a corporate employee and a creative life are in tension with each other. One is seen as a utilitarian number and the other as a free spirit where rules do not exist. In my work, I explore this lost identity and its parallels between corporate culture, and personal life. To design in the corporate setting is to have your creations reworked by hundreds of other employees, re-touched, remastered, and ultimately redefined to be “on brand.” The original intent is lost; the creator's name is erased and replaced with a logo. My work flips this model on its head and creates new identity and principles through deconstructing corporate objects and transforming them into new objects of happiness.
These sentients are birthed from the pains of corporate work and the happiness of living a creative life. Pulling from my skillset from my corporate job. I use physical craft, photography, 3D rendering, and digital techniques to recreate the corporate process of designing and marketing. Starting with corporate business attire like dress-shirts and wool-polyester suits, I deconstruct them to create new uniforms. As the model, I wear the uniforms as I photograph, retouch, remaster and redefine my own work into an abstracted brand. Presented as artifacts of the process - the original uniforms, photographs, and digitally remastered works for the screen, print, and gallery setting - the mass reproduction and commercialization of my work questions what is reality and what is not, and the value of the same work presented in different ways.
I am inspired by the thought experiment, the Ship of Theseus. The famous ship sailed by the hero Theseus. If the wooden parts began to rot and were replaced by new ones; then, after a century, every part has been replaced through technology. The question then is whether the “reconstructed” ship still the same as the original? Or the pieces stored in the warehouse, are those the original?
v_43 explores this paradox of originality and gradual loss of identity. As corporate work is reworked by hundreds of other employees, re-touched, remastered, and ultimately redefined to be “on brand.” The original intent is lost; the creators' name is rebased and replaced with a logo. But is the final outcome more or less valuable than the original?
The final outcome is this new entity is birthed from this creative life. Ideas that are disembodied, energetic lifeforms that are only manifested in this world through a collaborative human partner. These sentient beings emerge into the physical world through my own personal experiences of pain and joy in my life. Creativity flows through me, revealing strange hidden jewels within and finding the joy it sparks when we uncover a hidden universe.
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