AN INTERVIEW WITH KEFAN WENG
Recently featured in Artmadness Magazine, the thriving CGI renderer Kefan Weng (China) is taking over the digital world by storm. His views on reality and illusion are no little than close to a Matrixian version of Plato's cave. We sat down with him to discuss his views on reality, digital creation and the status of 'photography'.
"Firstly, could you introduce yourself? When did you start your career as an artist?"
Hi guys, my name is Kefan Weng. I come from Zhejiang, China, and currently studying communication design in Germany. I started with photography at the age of 14, and begin to make CG renders around 6 months ago.
"Your Instagram bio reads 'reality is your perception'. Could you elaborate on this standpoint? Is this the key theme of your work?"
Every second we perceive the information from seeing, hearing and all other senses, then the information is processed by our brain, the part which has not been filtered out and we believe builds up our ‘reality’. Therefore, reality applies to individuals quite differently, it varies from personal experience, profession, and also physical condition.
My Instagram profile is a mixture of photographs and CG renders. But not every viewer can tell, or care about the existence of ‘unreal’ photos. An obvious ‘fake’ CG to you might be considered just as a regular photograph by others. I guess eventually, we all just believe in what we want to believe in.
"The reason I started to make digital renders is to conquer the limitation of photography."
"We all just believe in what we want to believe in."
"If our reality is indeed our perception, do you find that the digital age has brought our reality even more so into dis-reality or hyperreality, if you like?"
Even before the digital age, the public has been always ‘tricked’ by the mass media. I strongly agree with what Nikolas Lumann said about the mass media: 'In this strand the mass media disseminate ignorance in the form of facts which must continually be renewed so that no one notices'. And mass media disseminate ignorance by creating an illusion of eliminating ignorance. But still, in the old ages, in order to manipulate something to fool the audience, it would require at least some profession, both graphics-wise and psychological-wise.
In the new era, with the booming of technologies like AI and Deepfake, altering the reality is becoming so easy that soon any no-brainer will be able to generate some fake news. Like I said before, we all just believe in what we want to believe in. Getting fed by numerous information is also part of the basic instincts of humans, as for which ones to be filtered out, is a personal choice. Some people are just doing fine living in their very own hyperrealities.
"What does that mean for the medium that we (still) call 'photography'? Does 'photography' as we know it still exists, do you think?"
I have folks asking all the time ‘Is that a real photo?’ Real or not, I don’t think it really matters. Many people think ‘real’ stuff is better cause it is a physical object they can see, hear, touch and smell. But in terms of graphic content, especially photographs, they simply emphasize memory. For us human beings, we perceive time as an ongoing linear thing, thus we try to capture moments that we are not able to grab. Is photograph of a real thing still a real thing, or just digitalized pixels or a printed dots on a piece of paper? That is the question I ask myself.
The reason I started to make digital renders is to conquer the limitation of photography. It is a great thing to generate the images in your head directly. I believe that in the process ofcreating graphical contents, the fewer mediums you go through (model, set, lighting, camera, lens, etc... ), the less deviation you get from your original concept.
"Your mirror pieces portray very personal, key issues in today's age. Are you preoccupied with mental health in your creative work?"
As a quite optimistic person, I haven’t suffered from any depression yet, but I have watched people I care about dealing with those issues, and it can’t be easy for them. I made the ‘Gemini’ in September and received many negative comments saying that was promoting suicide and gun violence, which was the exact opposite of my intention, otherwise, she would not be pointing the gun at the reflection but against her own head.
Adult’s world ain’t easy for anyone. Not every problem can be sorted out, in that case, the only option left to us is learning to work on our own minds.
"Where is Kefan the artist in 5 years time?"
Hopefully, I will have finished my master’s study and found my place in the design industry.
"Thank you so much for this enlightening interview!"