We had the good fortune of connecting with Yi Zheng and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Yi, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
“Be water, my friend,” by Bruce Lee is a powerful life philosophy that I apply to both my creative work and life. For me, this concept speaks primarily of maintaining an empty state of mind to remain open to learning new things. By mirroring the adaptable qualities of water, I can avoid becoming trapped in a specific mindset and give myself more room to learn and grow.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My work is a blurring between nostalgia and contemporary. Nostalgia allows me to be a tourist of the past, and being contemporary enables me to experiment with digital technologies. Creating narratives that explore the space between these two areas, digital and physical space, has provided me with an open territory in which to experiment. There is a new potential to connect virtual and physical space, using forms and textures to create 3d vocabulary and language.
Through the mash-up of various platforms, my work explores the reality of an object in space, the space that it exists in, and how the viewer then perceives the object. Pop culture and its residue, old technology and the visual language that is left behind are my media, as are abstract shapes that reference past and current eras.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I recently visited Bombay Beach during a road trip to Palm Springs to attend Desert X. It is an abandoned polluted beach community on the Salton Sea that the art community is slowly transforming into a new art space. The beach contains various art installations such as a swing in the middle of the polluted lake, a monolith reminiscent of 2001 A Space Odyssey, and an abandoned and decaying “Noah’s Ark.” The un-curated art space has evolved organically and is not part of any organization. Walking along the beach, the combination of thought-provoking installations against an alien-looking landscape creates a sense of energy and wonder. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My parents have always been my most incredible supporters and cheerleaders, and I feel lucky to have grown up in such an open-minded and nurturing environment. Growing up, we had a library full of movies and books from all over the world that helped shape how I see the world. My parents encouraged me to explore my interests while engaging me in discussions about culture and history. My mom, in particular, has always been a role model for the family. Through her nurturing words and selfless acts, she is the glue that keeps everyone connected. She doesn’t like to show off her accomplishments, but she is the strongest woman I have ever known. She is continuously evolving toward the next chapter in her life, and I will always look up to her with great admiration.