Live visual and music performance The Sparrow and the Raven is an ongoing collaborative project between Chaimi and sound artists. During the performance the artist tells a story in which a new born sparrow and a young raven adventure in a world of magic and myth. Employing the modern techniques of VJing, each time Chai Mi creates an one and only video piece corresponding to the sound work made by collaborating musicians/sound artists, while meantime roughly follows a same structure of the story.
The animated short film Birds Dream is shot using stop-motion technique, and its ‘actors’ are bird models handcrafted by the artist. Its concept derives from the artist’s own series of painting Bird and live animation performance the sparrow and the raven (2012).
YEAR: 2014 March
DURATION: 10 mins
ANIMATION／SCRIPT／DIRECTOR Chai Mi
SOUND Zhang Xuan
MUSIC thruoutin （Brad Seippel）
A new-born sparrow entered a world full of colourful objects and strange birds. When curiously idling in this world, the sparrow found a new-born raven with which it began to explore the place together. They encountered all sorts of strange birds and mysterious geometric shapes of different colours. Their encounters have made them bewilder and fantasise, soon their body start to change as well…
- 2016 Out To See Festival，Animation Night, South Street Seaport, New York city, USA
- 2016 Animamix Biennale China short artistic Animation program, Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai, China
- 2016 19th International Animation Film Festival of Catalonia (Animac), PETIT ANIMAC sessions, Lleida, Spain
- 2015 HELSINKI FESTIVAL, FOCUS CHINA, 25X25-CLOSE ENCOUNTER program, Helsinki, Finland
- 2015 Toronto Animated Image Society’s annual Showcase, screening at Cinecycle, Toronto, Canada
- 2015 New Direction in Chinese Animation screening program and speech, ICA The institute of contemporary art, Boston, USA
- 2015 Chinese Women artist video art festival, Mexico city, Mexico
- 2015 ANIMASIVO Mexico City Animation Festival, Young animator from China program, Mexico City, Mexico
- 2015 2nd China woman Film festival, Beijing, China, Best Film Award
- 2015 Annecy International Animation Film Festival, official selection, Annecy, France
- 2015 10th Athens Animfest International Animation Festival,Official Experimental Section, Athens, Greece.
- 2015 22nd Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film,“ANIMAGORIA” program
, Stuttgart, German
- 2015 18th Holland Animation Film Festival (HAFF), Official competition, Utrecht, Holland
- 2014 Underwire Women’s Short Film Festival 2014, DVDBANG (East Asian film program), London, UK
- 2014 Les Rencontres Internationales (New cinema and contemporary art), video library, Paris, Berlin
- 2014 23rd edition of the St. Louis international Film Festival (SLIFF), Official competition, St. Louis, USA
- 2014 9th edition of Animatou international animation film festival, International competition, Geneva, Switzerland
- 2014 18th Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Festival, Official Selection, Seoul, Korea
- 2014 9th edition of ANIMEST international animation film festival, Creepy animation program, in Bucharest, Romania
- 2014 2nd biennial DC Chinese Film Festival, Official competition, Washington DC, USA
- 2014 2nd China woman Film festival, Official competition, Beijing, China
- 2014 2nd Shenzhen Independent Animation Biennale, Official competition, Shenzhen, China
- 2014 11st edition of China independent film festival (CIFF), Experimental film program, Xiamen, China
- 2014 3rd edition of China independent animation film forum (CIAFF), Official competition, Beijing, China
Test Field (solo exhibition)
2 November – 1 December 2013
La Bande Video Gallery, Quebec, Canada
Paintings, installations and animation created during the period of 2010 – 2013
Sponsors and organizer：La Bande Video
‘Test Field’ used to frequently appear on Chinese newspapers or TV broadcasting when I was a child. This phrase has always been on the waiting list for my next show title since I started as an artist and it always come to my mind swiftly whenever I am think about a new show. After I noticed this interesting obsession, I decided to use this popular phrase as the title of my exhibition this time. I have since been trying to find out the reason of my obsession with the word. However little, I did recover something so far.
When people of my age studied in elementary school, we needed only to take a five minutes’ walk from home to make life drawings of villages and fields – life drawing of country life is a common assignment from art teacher. Nowadays you need to drive for an hour at least to be able to see some scattered villages and farmlands. When the fields were close to our homes, I used to find so many different kinds of birds, but now in most cases I see sparrows and crows. They fly across buildings and electric wires, making homes inside the holes previously had the tubes of air conditioners in, playing on the potted plants on people’s balconies and hunting for food inside huge rubbish bins. I like watching their activities. They are our urban neighbours and companions.
After finishing Outside World Series (2010-2012) – an abstract drawing project employed ‘stream of consciousness’ strategy
, I started to deconstruct the body form of raven and sparrow and reconstruct them with geometric shapes, resulting alien birds and the realization of Bird Series. Birds come to my mind not just as still images but also moving pictures, therefore I later created The Sparrow and The Raven both as live performance and short animation. During this period, I imagine and create alien birds of all shapes and sizes during the day. When the day finishes and the night falls, I walk on concrete roads which used to be rise fields once upon a time. Sometimes my day/night routine is the opposite, but what’s never changed are the construction sites by the side of the road, which are full of cranes, trucks, scaffolds and unbelievably swift changes.
Chai Mi, September 2013, from home, Beijing.
Improvisational moving images and music
< Second-hand >
An ongoing project which focuses on several topics including examining the attitude toward past, bringing the unwanted and discarded a second life in fine art and combining more abstract elements into a live performance to generate different outcomes.
The moving images are based on some illustration books published in the 50s, which Chai Mi have bought at very low price at second hand markets around China. Most of them have been abandoned or forgotten. There are great number of books in China have now been considered as out-dated, although many of which weren’t in fact published long time ago.
‘In recent years I have been collecting second hand books from some collections dated back to the 90s. In early 2013 I began to reread them and make use of them creatively. Some pattern books/illustration albums have caught my attention. In the live performance I am trying to create imageries based on these books (their contents, layouts or even the material the books made from). Then I try to make the images either blend in or go against the music I hear. I aim to create ‘accidents’ and new experience in each performance. To me, the meaning of this art performance is not only limited to the result.In process I always get something new from the old books, which is thought provoking every time.’
The musician who collaborated with piece with me in the video is American musician thruoutin. In the performance he has used sound made by toy keyboard found in an American second shop, toy robots bought in Chinese antique market, Chinese traditional percussion instruments and an old violin given by friend.
, thruoutin (right), performing of Second Hand, Change Coffee, Hangzhou, China
‘In this project I hope to collaborate with any musician or sound artist who make works with the sound created by second hand object/trash, and who can perform improvisational music/sound work. ’
Chai Mi and Fred Lebrasseur（Canada）
Location：le cercle，Quebec city，Canada
mì | Me (solo exhibition)
28 October – 31 December 2013
Qing Gongguan, Beijing, China
Outside World, series of paintings 、 Bird, series of paintings
Sponsors and organizers：
China Youthology，Youthology Lab Fund
The top part of the character stands for ‘claw’, the lower part stands for ‘see’. Therefore, 觅(mì) literally means to search for something with eye and hand.
Explanations of the character: seek; look for; hunt for
Pronunciation: the same with ‘me’.
Pinyin: the official phonetic system for transcribing the Mandarin pronunciations of Chinese characters into the Latin alphabet in China.
Exhibition Preface：Unspeakable State
One day, when I was six years old, I was playing in the yard and a neighboring woman came by to chat. When she heard my name, she frowned.
“Your name is not very a good one,” she said. “Chai Mi… ‘Mi’ means ‘seeking’, it symbolizes that your whole life, you will always be looking for something, but never find it.”
I was shocked and didn’t know what to say.
In my twenties, I gradually learned the narrowness of speech. So much of life seems to be “I can’t exactly say,” “I don’t want to talk about it,” or “I can’t put it into words.” So I often keep quiet and smile to hide my confusion. I am ashamed of my poor writing skills, I write very slowly and cannot post online. In my mind there is a backlog of thoughts and emotions, like old boxes stacked and crowded in disarray that cannot be cleared for a very long time. Moving them back and forth, finally I found some ways to unpack them.
‘Do something,’ as I have so- called it, is another instance where speech fails me, capturing a cluster of activities that don’t fit so tidily into words, including painting, crafts, animation, and undefined experimentation. Drawing is always the most efficient way; with just a pen and paper you may begin. But I cannot always express all my imagination through the paper, especially those living images dynamic in my thoughts. So I found animation – a creative process wholly satisfying. Of course it’s also tainted by means of multi-field vision and repetitive work. The process of animation is a kind of self-cultivation, requiring numerous small injections of creativity, subdivided into a myriad- step process delineating precise actions, and somehow through that rigor, releasing something incredibly big.
Still, animation needs sophisticated planning, which can limit the spontaneity of the results, and sometimes makes me feel blind and numb. I felt I needed a flexible and controllable way to reorganize the scattered and fragmentary images, so I began creating improvisational animation in live performance.
Looking back on the past few years, what strikes me is all the bad habits and undisciplined chaos that shapes these thoughts of mine. Still
, through introspection I have found another way to understand ‘seeking,’ the meaning of ‘Mi,’ the meaning of me.
‘Seeking’ I consider as a kind of state rather than implying a specific result. Results are easy to reach, but the state is difficult to maintain. Compared with targeting a result, I am willing to choose a state. Searching. Struggling. Persevering. These words explain the state of exploring an uncertain world and self. ‘Seeking’ was given to me by coincidence, and I’m willing to keep it. The result of my seeking is visible to you, the viewer, but I can hardly describe the origin of this result, because it is something that I can’t exactly say… something I can’t put it into words.
Bird, series of paintings
Medium: Color ink on paper
Most drawings in this series were made around 2012. They are drawn with colouring pen, the same as The Outside World series. The paper used for this series came from a printing factory in southern China. They were purchased as book binding material 10 years ago but were never used therefore discarded. These pieces of paper have special textures. They have all turned yellowish now, though some aged more greatly than the others.
‘I lived near the Old Summer Palace of Beijing when I was little. I used to see all kinds of birds. But now, after years of rapid urban development, sparrows and crows are two of few kinds, which remain to be common in Beijing. I often see crows searching for food in the big trash bins near residential buildings, sparrows playing at the balconies of households or making nests on power poles. I like observing their behaviours and believing the behaviour of the urban birds must not be the same with their relatives in natural environment. The urban life must have changed them just like it did to us.’—Chai Mi