“Reflectors always reflect people to themselves. I see myself as someone else’s mirror”

Jean Lin Artist of Contemporary Art Jewellery and Materials Experimenter

Taiwan


What is the main theme of your most recent art?

TEXT is the result of the observation and perception of human behavior. It is not just about text and language, but about its own actions the body is protecting, and the acceptance of our environment and people in nature. Collecting subconscious human reactions, or personal habits, and even the traces of first intuitions.


What did you struggle with becoming an artist?

During my studies in Germany, thinking about the difference between how to make and design an art piece, led me to a big breakthrough in my approach. The turning point was realizing that the steps of design do not really matter in the art-making process as there is no routine, only my own rhythm. It does not need to be this or that, rather I just let it happen intuitively. Of course, I still need to have ideas to start with and take a conscious direction. What was still hard was figuring out how to bridge abstract ways of working to clear concepts. However, I have to apply myself not to think about it, in order to give me an actually fresh and surprising result. My brain becomes convinced the moment that an answer appears.


What was your starting point of the creative process?

Observational skills have always been a gift, and they become clearer in the context of the environment. I believe each person has their own path in life. As a middle child, I grew up needing to observe the mood and actions of every grown-up. I wanted to be like a microscope to see through and access people’s thoughts, so I wouldn’t have any unnecessary concerns. I always feel uncomfortable when stared at. In many ways, I subconsciously took myself out of anything where I might be noticed. Whenever watching a series or animation, I took notice of small details and elements, like the colour of the car in the background, or how much the characters paid for a drink, et cetera. This has always been my focus. After finishing whatever I was watching, I would carry on thinking about those little details. A greatly respected teacher in my bachelor’s degree course once said to me, “You have to accept that you don’t have to think about anything, just open your mind to receive what is there in your surroundings.” He encouraged me to start consciously observing my subconscious.


When finding something that appeals to you, what goes through your mind?

That I have to record it right away. It makes me take photographs all the time because I cannot memorise things well. And I am a perceptual person, always sensing real emotion in the stuff and people surrounding me. It normally appears as a connection between the newly found and my habits from the past. I will connect it together and laugh, or just stare at it for a while. If I am alone at that very moment, I often get spooked when I realize that I have started daydreaming. Sometimes, it’s not that I have gone into the daydream that startles me, but the fact that I realize I am actually in the present. When I see a corner that is really interesting and weird, I think of the story behind it. I call that my illusory daze of virtual reality.


How would you describe the world of your illusory daze?

All of my friends know that I have a jumpy mind, and I only noticed it after people told me about it. Therefore, I have started to purposefully use subconsciousness to describe itself through visuals. Despite the language not communicating what I am really trying to express, I deliberately choose to lead the audience into my world via the words that I have selected. “Life and consciousness do not denote essences distinct from matter; they are ways of talking about phenomena that emerge from the interplay of extraordinary complex systems. Purpose and meaning in life, arise though fundamentally human acts of creation, rather than derived from anything outside ourselves.” (excerpts from The big picture written by Sean Carroll) I believe humans have their own aura that enables nonsense to transfer into logical imagination, as long as you have a vision, and that is it. I would like to notice what humans are actually thinking of.


What is your role in TEXT?

In the Human Design, I am a reflector. It means my mind is blank. From that theory, I see myself as a mirror to reflect what people are trying to hear from me. To keep it on a positive note, I told myself it could be translated through my own observations of the audience, as well as in the TEXT. As I mentioned, my scattered mind makes me join a lot of topics in the experiments of the TEXT project and daily life, and I am open to various issues and opinions. For example, to conjure a view of mountains and sky, one person will see a scene from their memory, and the other will have to use their imagination. To receive the contrast from the same resources is an emotional leak of secret. For me, it's sort of a contrast of the secret from someone's personal emotion and background. Sometimes I really enjoy feeling blank as it makes me focus on what is occurring right now, especially since I am doing it subconsciously.

Like a deer in headlightsI do have a certain fearlessness and curiosity for new things, despite actually being afraid.

Could you tell us about the point of view of your artworks?

I have been attentive in daily research of human reaction. Sometimes, you do not really notice what it is that you are collecting, it’s your collection from daily life. People throw stuff away subconsciously and put them in the trash bin. I see it as a concentration place for materials and action research. People notice things when they are reminded, otherwise, it’s invisible to them. Then you will detect the manner or the details you like about the subject, only to view and appreciate. It is good for me to collect human thoughts from the street and original behaviors, to try to perform the actions of people to reflect on them. No matter if it is a ‘simple’ or a ‘normal’ reason, I am fond of the way of receiving first reactions from people as my reference point. In order to start to interpret the story from what I see, I often communicate with the cities themselves and open my mind to think like others and strangers. People see the phenomenons they are familiar with. On the other hand, it’s interesting to associate many cultures, and ponder the mixed history of Taiwan’s colonization. It may be considered as adjunctive therapy to put me in the mood, during the time I am creating.


Do you consider yourself to have an extrovert or introvert personality?

I feel there are two different perspectives that appear when I have doubts, such as positive and negative. I picture it like a link binding the two together. I used to presume that I was an introverted person, yet many people tell me they see me as an outgoing type. This is fun from my inner point of view, as I do have a certain fearlessness and curiosity for new things, despite actually being afraid. I figure that might be the reason I often use the word ‘maybe’ in conversations. Determination is something I don’t express with assurance. I do also have really negative thoughts. A peaceful balance always been my principal standard for feeling and giving others positivity. It's like a calibration system, which automatically becomes neutral. Well, maybe.


How would you define yourself now as an artist?

Like a deer in headlights sometimes, shocked and surprised. I am empty, a colorless floating person. To receive the elements that pass through me, and be connected with people, buildings, or just phenomena. It is a way for me to feel what I really am and using it as pieces of a puzzle to map myself.


What questions do people often ask you about your art?

People often ask me questions like ‘why did you use eggshells in the beginning’ or ‘why do you want to make pieces with eggshells.’ The fact is, I actually do not have a special or specific answer for this. It’s not what people presume, that it is a dramatic story or tragedy. It all came from a really simple lifestyle that we all have. For a long time, people only cared about the precious metal aspect of jewelry. Is it made of silver or gold? Of course, the subtle addition will be its value from the cost of making it. Yet we all know that it is because it is a common material that people can easily accept at first sight. Based on life and death, it is inevitable in human life. I am illustrating that in my pieces. When you are trying to look through the egg itself, you may see an inner world through a hole or a broken part, and it captures your full attention. What I try to express is simply the effort and time to observe the things in our daily life. The elements I used are normally from nature, people, life, and emotions. That’s why I really enjoy listening to what people think of my art or jewelry. Sometimes they say it looks like an animal, sometimes they say it reminds them of a feeling and give me a word that pops up in their minds. What I see on the streets daily, experiences and surroundings, and focusseople's habits wherever I stay, is what I take inspiration from for TEXT.


What do you want to bring to your audiences?

Any sort of complex is often emotional and formed by a subconscious response to environmental and psychological manifestations in certain situations. I consider manifestations of personal subconsciousness to be the most naïve of human reactions. Often, when we are in a new place, thinking of ourselves as a stranger and feeling insecure, we do what we usually do because that is the way the body is protecting itself from the environment. After a while, you will start to feel familiar again. It is the feeling of belonging that we need in daily life. Overall, I would like to bring comfort and harmony to people who see my art, to receive a peaceful feeling, and remind them that daily life iis what it is. It’s a reaction that is subconscious and instinctive.


Maybe, just have fun in life!



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