By disappearing into his artwork, the artist Liu Bolin is not simply becoming invisible, but transforming into the message itself. Individual human beings have been the smallest unit in the fabric of history since the very start: they are in a mutually constitutive relationship with society which is concomitantly produced and producing, preserving the power to shape relationships and be shaped by them at the same time.
By working through these multiple layers of human life, Liu Bolin hones away the skin which separates individuals from the whole, scattering their presence within the natural landscapes of the melting Arctic, amongst sites of mass consumption or in front of the flags of the world. He hides the individual in places where he is most present: through this camouflage, his works of art and performance explore the relationships between the single and the collective, which appear to be in a fundamental contradiction in our current world order. Through photography, sculpture and performance, the artist explores the themes of development, technology, poverty and misery, denouncing the profoundly human issues that are often overlooked by the giant steps of our civilisation. Through his silent protest, Liu Bolin speaks with the loud voice of humanity.
Today we have the pleasure of talking with The Invisible Man. How would you describe yourself through your artworks?
In my works, I will paint my body full of colors and disappear into our common environment. If you are not paying attention, you may not notice my existence. When choosing a background, I generally choose some common scenes that constantly appear as a background in the development of human society. I use my works to question the mutual restrictions and contradictory relationships between human development and the civilization we create.
What is the role of the individual in society? Are these in contradiction with each other?
The individualis consciousness shaped in society, and the way in which society needs you to think about it, enables you to educate yourself. At the same time, society develops through the presentation of each individual. This is a very contradictory relationship: human society needs to be manifested and created through individuals, and at the same time, it does not want humans to dominate too much.
What moves you to create? What are the major issues in our modern world you aim to address?
I have an unruly personality by nature, and I don't like to follow established rules. As an artist, one should inherit and develop an artistic style and think about the causal relationship between artistic style and the history of human development. We humans have reached a stage of civilization based on virtual technologies, represented by the Internet and mobile phones. Artists need to slowly discover the possibilities of new technologies and images to solve eternally new debates on the themes of love and humanity.
Many of your photographs depict the natural world, as well as the human world. Do you believe humans are the disease of the earth?
I agree with the statement that human beings are the disease of the earth. As the fear of life and the evil of human nature are both present in the same dimension, we face and process information coming from these two levels almost every day. I have a pessimistic attitude towards human beings. This theme has always appeared in my works. In addition, I believe that human beings live on the earth as the testing ground of a certain advanced civilization. During the epidemic, I was thinking: who created us and what was his purpose in creating us? Perhaps we are a virtual program created by some higher civilization, experimenting the process of life and self-destruction in a certain field.
How does technology connect with your artistic commitment?
Human beings produce different technologies in different stages of civilization, and art is the activity that makes technology connected to the activities of the human soul. I recently used 3D printing technology to record the joys, sorrows, sorrows and joys in scenes of human life. I was recreating similar things. Once the image relies on new technology and the possibility of new discussions on the image appears, art will show new vitality.
What is your opinion regarding NFT?
NFT has recently become a very popular word and activity, which belongs to the new rules of the game in the stage of virtual technology. Buying and selling images and virtual scenes, in essence, is no different from a Picasso painting bought by a certain oil magnate, but this kind of transaction is how young people like it now. NFT is the beginning of Internet predators stepping onto the stage of history and declaring that they can dominate the world in the future. The rules of the future human world are made by them.
Is art finally able to make invisible issues, visible?
Art is the direct introduction of shortcut buttons to the human soul through image discussion. When people enter art galleries and churches and temples, the energy field they must cross is the same: they are seeking spiritual nourishment from another dimension. Art can’t solve the immediate problems you are faced with, but it can help you nourish your soul, think about where you come from and where you are going. This question is the same as thinking about why you have your current surname, and the answer comes from a very far-reaching position.