If I’m not enthusiastic when I film, then the result will be bad.
Li Ming’s interview
November 9th, 2008, discussion betweem Jin Feng and Li Ming on msn.
Jin: How many works did you complete this year?
Li: Hold on a second, I have to think…Eight, I am shooting a video at the moment.
Jin: Ah! You’re very productive! Which one do you like the most?
Li: Don’t exaggerate, these are all small productions, they are easy to shoot, and fast. I like “Back garden” quite a lot!
Jin: Many people like your “small productions”, I like them myself. But I have the feeling that in a way you are becoming an “expert”, do you think that these productions are getting too easy? Why?
Li: I read the small article you wrote last time on my solo exhibition, I think it is very true, this is precisely where I contradict myself. What do you think of ‘patterns’?
Jin: I think that patterns are mainly a way of using experiences to solve issues, including new ones, don’t you think?
Li: Yes. This “expert” aspect you mentioned before probably is my current issue. Creating becomes very easy when based on experiences, and it becomes very uniform as well. But now I have the intention to restrain myself, it is necessary to try new things…
Jin: Can you tell more about this restriction?
Li: I don’t want to sink into a permanent attitude, I might suffocate, there won’t be new feelings. On top of that, I always do very small things. If it doesn’t feel right, I want to suddenly change my way without reason. Then there might be some interesting things to discover.
Jin: I saw the works that you will exhibit at the Shopping Gallery, can you talk about the basic ideas behind them?
Li: Both videos’ ideas popped into my mind, then I realized them. “Hit me” was shot without any preparation or plan, it was totally improvised, I just wanted to put some constraints, feelings into the atmosphere. “Fireworks” was meticulously planned, but as I saw the scene, and the grandmother, I didn’t find the initial plan important anymore, I had to change the actor, so I modified everything.
Jin: What were the reasons then?
Li: I think it was just a question of feelings, many things can’t be properly explained, I don’t know how to say. Perhaps these kinds of modifications influence the whole situation, maybe it’s not good, but it felt right, I felt better afterwards.
Jin: What are you more inclined to? Improvised work or planned work?
Li: Improvised, I barely use plans, the same in life.
Jin: Doesn’t “Fireworks” have a scenario? For you, can a scenario also be considered as a plan?
Li: “Fireworks” does have a scenario, but it wasn’t used, only the initial thoughts were put into practice: shooting fireworks in a room. Then, I saw a piece of land, and made some modifications, turning the room into a wild field.
Jin: The work has some surrealistic elements, was this intentional, or were there other thoughts?
Li: It was intentional, maybe because I like to imagine things!
Jin: In your works there are always a lot of subtle and captivating things, perhaps this is what people like the most. Are these coming out during the process, or are they usually accumulated somewhere waiting to be used?
Li: Both, ha ha – your observation is very accurate, sometimes selfishness would be at the heart of my thoughts, and leads to my film ideas. Perhaps the things I want to express won’t take more than a few seconds, I always sink in the details. So, the editing is very difficult, there is no reason for a beginning or an end.
Jin: Maybe this is a brief standstill, is that sometimes vital for you?
Li: What do you mean by brief standstill?
Jin: I mean “sink”… sinking is sometimes a standstill, don’t you think?
Li: Probably, for me only feelings can face this kind of sinking. If I don’t feel enthusiastic when I film then the result will be bad, uncertain, it’s happened many times. Therefore, I’m afraid to create with other people, when I am by myself it’s enough.
Jin: Ha ha… self-employed work. Of course, thinking is a personal thing, and in practice many things can only be done alone. But I would still like to ask, does your sensibility actually help you to control the situation? Because many artists are working along with their sensibility…
Li: I don’t have any control. Once the work is finished I would have doubts about what I produced.
Jin: The beginning and the end of “Fireworks” are similar, was this your ideal thought?
Li: I have a very weak conception of situations, often it is a short pleasure, I satisfy myself first and leave the rest for after. The end of Fireworks originally was different, I made some changes during the post-editing so that the beginning and the end are exactly similar, like a dream, as if nothing happened.
Jin: We can tell that this decision was taken during the editing. But it still looks like a composition. Of course, this is my personal point of view.
Li: It is a little bit complicated…
Jin: What will you do next? Can you reveal it?
Li: Reveal, this kind of word is only for big production directors. I will keep producing new works, I am currently filming a video, related to the body. I also have ideas for the next video, if everything goes well it should be possible to realize.
Jin: Good! Last question, what do you hate the most?
Li: Why do you ask that?
Jin: It’s improvisation
Li: I hate to have a few people sitting happily on my bed.
Jin: Very good! I felt very happy and relaxed to make this interview with you….
Li: I’m very simple, when we’ll know each other better you will feel even more relaxed, now I have a new perspective about you, thank you!