We had the good fortune of connecting with Grant Hao-Wei Lin and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Grant Hao-Wei, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
I always have been the type of person who loves filling up my plate to the extent where it feels kind of overwhelming and taking on interesting opportunities or gigs that came my way. My artistic focus hasn’t always been the same but one thing that I got better at over time is managing my own mental health when going through lot.

Before committed to the photographic medium and videography, I was working as a User Interface and User Experience designer at Silicon Valley in California. I loved what I was doing at the time, but always found myself making time after work to shoot creative project and work on side projects, and even oil paint at some point. I had a lot of fun balancing work and my personal projects, but it was getting exhausting mentally to upkeep with my own expectations to be successful at both my work and my passion projects.

I had to quit my job in 2019 since I was being called back to serve in the Taiwanese military for an entire year. That is when I decided to make that an opportunity for me to reorient myself in my trajectory. I have always wanted to immerse myself among creative folks and industries, so I eventually applied to an MFA program at Parsons for Photography as an excuse to move to NYC, and check off one of my bucket list items — go to an art school.

Despite going to school full time now, I still make time to take on internships and freelance opportunity. I would say my schedule has been insane doing school and work and all the while going out to socialize with new friends and colleagues. I am, however, very happy about where I am and the connections and artistic friends and family I have made throughout the process.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a multidisciplinary artist who has been focusing on mostly photography and videography work. Yet one of the most exciting projects that I am working on currently is a virtual reality space I am building through Unity that acts as a continual reconciliation of my own identity against the memories, narratives and imageries of my personal and relational past. The virtual reality space, currently called Lineage, was inspired by the concept of Theater of Memory developed by a 15th century Italian philosopher Giulio Camillo. Interested in mythology, Giulio Camillo wanted to build a physical theater that serves as a materialization of human experiences with each section of what looks like a Roman theater occupied with different symbols and images. Through going through the theater, the visitor can be reminded of certain personal experience through mental association with what they see.

Being a queer, Asian, immigrant artist living in New York City who was born and raised in Tainan, Taiwan. My identity, like many others, went through countless transformation— deconstruction and reconstruction. Before I came out to my family, there are always persona that I would develop as a safety mechanism where my true self was not accepted. As I became older and open to more people in my life, there is a constant introspection of my many personas — which ones are there because I want to feel safe, and which ones are “truly me”.

I built lineage as an interactive virtual reality space that is accessible to visitor on a web browsers. Visitors can walk through the world like how they would walk through a game play. The world is a collection of different architectures and virtual installation within. When one walks through the space, audio of some narration of my own and recorded conversation I have with my relatives would come in and out depending on your proximity to the audio source and the room where it is relevant. At this moment in time, the world is still evolving and expanding.

The purpose of this project is not only for me to reconcile my past internally and have a critical view of my own identity formation, but I also want this world to be an opportunity for everyone who visits this space to think of their own past and upbringing. My hope is that through my vulnerability and rawness of my narration and world building, people would be moved and in return uncover their more authentic self.

This project hasn’t been the easiest as it involves a significant amount of coding and rendering, which I didn’t go to school for. However, online tutorials have been super helpful and effective. If I continue to build on this project down the years, I definitely would want to work with an engineer to bring this project to the next level in terms of dissemination, scalability, technical optimization and also with a writer/designer to work on creative ways of storytelling

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live in Bushwick, Brooklyn and honestly I am in love with this place. I would love to bring my best friend to nearby bars, restaurants, galleries, parks, and events that are happening around the area. I would bring them thrifting at one of the L Train Vintage, take them to eat at Los Hermanos for delicious tacos and then get a drink at queer friendly bars such as Mood Ring, Happy Fun Hideaway or Abe’s Pagoda. I would bring them to a drag show hosted by BushWig and take them to a party hosted by House of Yes and Susanne Bartsch and conclude the weekend with a nice beer on the rooftop— you never run out of things to do!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are endless number of people I am thankful for, but in terms of recently after I moved to NYC, I want to especially shout out to a dance company called DryeMarinaro Dance Co. and my friend Chieh, who is a part of that company. Chieh introduced me to the Dance Company as I have been wanting to work with dancers as a photographer/videographer. I ended up working on two separate projects with DryeMarinaro Dance Co., both of which opened up the variety of projects I now get to work on. I really would not have been where I am without that first point of contact.

I also want to do a shoutout to the faculty members at Parsons Photography MFA Program, who guided me through my multidisciplinary work and inspired me to work on my Virtual Reality project that is now going to my thesis project for my remaining year at the program.

Website: granthaoweilin.com

Instagram: instagram.com/boomnbust

Image Credits
Grant Hao-Wei Lin

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