Chen Pin Tao is a 24 year old artist currently working in Hong Kong and Shanghai, of which we have stumbled upon his Instagram page recently. His work seem to incorporate bodily elements with architectural ones in an uncanny, enigmatic and mysterious language that speaks with words but images too, still or moving; they explore ideas of religion or God by de-contextualising them and re-setting them in a new setting that reverses the creative process of God as an engineer of the world, as Moon Chan claims. Without further due, Moon Chan seems to express his ideas much better than we could try to.
Your work is incredibly intriguing. I have read your bio on your website; Could you please simplify for me and our readers what are you interested in and how do you recreate it in your work?
My practice focuses on the creation of worlds through space, architecture, objects, frequencies, and beyond. A world is where everything is contained, including culture, life forms, non-life forms, objects, space, architecture, frequencies and the list goes on. In my work, I try to reverse engineer the creative process of God, instead of creating a world first then put things in, I create objects, spaces, and frequencies which act like puzzle pieces to allow a world to emerge little by little. An analogy would be to reverse a chicken egg and have the egg shell hatch from the chicken instead of the chicken hatching from the egg.
From looking at your work, it seems to be quite a lot about organisms, recreated in a new invented world. I saw babies, plants, animals, bodily parts, all "chopped" and taken out of their original context and put into a new one, as an object. Would that be the right way to phrase it? If not, how would you phrase it? What does that represent for you?
From your description I would assume you watched 《Temple Of Physiotology》(2019), a video work that is part of a larger series of work which includes sculptures and religious relics revolving around the religion of Physiotology. Physiotology believes that the human body is incredibly faulty, and questions the existence of conventionally portrayed higher powers in mainstream religions. It puts forward a question, if God exists and did in fact design us, why are we imperfect as a life form and are so prone to annihilation even by our own body? Nature on the other hand is much more perfect, if we cut off a branch from a tree, it would simply grow a new one. The same cannot be done with human limbs and organs. Therefore the Chan-Chan tribe in the Physiotological world worships the plant body as God, a perfect organism that can be self sufficient, grow indefinitely, and unbound to social hierarchies. In the video work, it tells the story of a religious myth where human bodies were sacrificed to the Physiotological Gods from the Chan-Chan Clan, and transformed into Physiotological bodies and become demigods themselves.
The aesthetics of your photo edits remind me very much of a tech-world aesthetics, like vapourware for example. Is there a reference to modernity in your work as well? Is it made consciously as such?
I do not see my work as being made to intentionally carry a technological aesthetic, I would even like to differentiate from the incredibly retinally and technologically focused Sino-Futurist movement. I would say my work is more of a result of the tools which I think are most suited for my expression, which were carefully chosen and curated for their intended purposes. For example, the digital 3D medium is the closest tool we could use to replicate or manipulate reality, using 3D in my work has to do with the creation of worlds which obviously exceeds the 2D plane. I also work with sculptures which I still think transcends reality better than the digital. My ultimate goal is not to create worlds in video, VR or AR, but physically in material form. My ambition is towards the physical architectural scale and not only contained and restrained in the 3D world.
Could you tell us about your working process? are you experimental in your work or do you have a set routine and specific materials you like to work with? Do you work by yourself or do you collaborate often?
For me, a project can start from anywhere. I believe that the readymade has infinite potential as building blocks, atoms or quarks towards an understanding of the Zeitgeist. Imagine this, the spoon has a history of 12,000 years, the plane has 100 years, the computer has 80 years. The amount of information, knowledge, and history that these objects have accumulated until this very moment are immense! The Pelvishead is an example of the infinite potential of the readymade, where the found object of a pelvic bone was accidentally misplaced on a stick, that is when it looked like a head to me and I started making Pelvishead “Beings”, which are totemic sculptures and emblems of the Chan-Chan Clan.
What are you inspired by? who are you inspired by?
It ranges from old masters to my contemporaries. Lately I really like Tianzhuo Chen’s theatrical works, it's almost like the contemporary version of Antonin Artaud’s theatre of cruelty! In a way I see theatre as another medium for world creation, and Tianzhuo Chen does it miraculously. I also draw parallels between more traditional art forms and applied arts. I really like Sensen Lii’s costumes and clothing designs, they are really from another planet, and I like those qualities. I always wondered why humans could never imagine an alien that do not somehow resemble humanoid qualities, and that I think is due to the restraint of human imagination being experience based, and it’s our job to go beyond that.
What is your next/current project on? Where do you imagine it displayed?
Currently I am working on a new series revolving around Chakra energies. The series consists of 9 sculpture work. Each sculpture explores the material and frequential manifestation of a Chakra frequency as a means for world generation. I am envisioning a blank room with all 9 sculptures arrayed in a semi-circle, and the viewer would be able to view the sculptures and experience the frequencies as they move across the semi-circle as a ritual. I am simultaneously working on a sculpture called SPIME, which explores the Djed of Osiris with contemporary materials conveying notions of life, death, desire, libido and samsara, SPIME will be shown at PRSNT.CONTEMPORARY, a think tank and artist ran project space for contemporary art in Hong Kong.
What is your ideal platform to exhibit work in? Why?
My ideal platform or space would be inside a work of architecture envisioned by myself. A temple made for my objects, at the same time the work of architecture is an artwork in itself, so the viewer would be viewing artworks inside an artwork. A bit like Constant’s New Babylon. This would be the ultimate goal of my desire for world creation.