videographer: Leon Liao
video editors: Leon Liao and London Tsai
writer : London Tsai
composer: Carlos F. Lopez
sound editor: Jeffrey H. Stern
film consultant: Jeffrey H. Stern
When Kristen Thiele visited my studio and saw all the tools that I've
made to create sculpture, she immediately thought that it would be great
to make a video to show my work process. It was that seed that eventually
(though not without a good deal of effort) became this short film.
A few words about the title. "A Dangerous Supplement," is a
Derridarean phrase. Often, people (artists included) feel that the work
should speak for itself. In some sense, this is true, but then there are
the individual "readings" of the work and then subsequent "rereadings."
These happen in context and cumulatively. Thus, each reading is informed
by the readings before and the information that is gathered in each process.
"A Dangerous Supplement" is then an important component of this
accumulation of ideas--it gives insight into an aspect of the creative
act that is rarely if ever seen.
Hence, underlying the film is the general process of creativity. Here
creativity is meant in the large sense, i.e., not limited to the arts,
but also the creativity in mathematics and the sciences. How do we go
about creating things whether they be objects or ideas?
There are roughly four stages in the creative process. These are called
1) preparation; 2) incubation; 3) illumination; and 4) verification. Numerous
people that I've spoken to in both the arts and sciences agree that these
stages are accurate in their own experience. For me, there seems to be
a sort of "self-similar" nature to the process by which I mean
that if you zoom into any particular part, you find within it more mini
four-part processes. For example, the work from a certain period in one's
life may have clear stages, but within that period there are many individual
creations; and within those there are also more mini steps of creativity.
In the film, the long welding shots represent both the stages of incubation
and illumination. These are overlayed with poems that I wrote over a decade
ago when I was working in Beijing. The poems are mostly about childhood,
young adulthood, and the things I experienced living in different parts
of China. The point is that our work is in some sense the culmination
of everything that we've experienced. Thus, the depth of one's work is
related to one's experience of life. And in some way, my having spent
six years in China informs my sculpture implicitly, if not explicitly.
This film was a tremendous collaborative effort. Fortunately, we had the
expert guidance of Jeffrey Stern who generously gave of his time and helped
us navigate the infinite possibilities of editing hours of footage into
an eight-minute video. Of course, the film took us much longer than we
ever imagined it would; Leon and I spent almost every Friday afternoon
and night this Spring semester working on it.. Leon's camera skills, his
Final Cut Pro fluency, his keen and quick mind, his can-do attitude, and
his wonderful personality were truly pleasure to work with. Though on
board from the very beginning, Carlos Lopez was given less than a week
to score the music for this film. Inspite of his numerous obligations
(graduating UM magna cum laude and parents visiting from Colombia), Carlos
gave us hours of his time creating the amazing music to go with our film
and my poems. It's a tremendous honor for us to have Jeffrey Stern, the
expert of sound experts, to do the final sound mix. Lastly, I'd like to
thank my wife for all the support she has provided to make all of this