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Insights of an Eco Artist

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In conversation: Mikky Kuang

Joana Alarcão

Delve into the enchanting world of film photography through the lens of Mikky Kuang. Her work intricately weaves delicate emotions with the resounding power of nature, capturing the seamless fusion of humanity and the natural world. Each photograph invites viewers to explore the intimate dance between femininity, vulnerability, and the boundless beauty of our planet. Discover the delicate and fierce, the gentle and relentless, as the artist unveils the timeless connection between the fragility of the feminine spirit and the enduring elements of nature.

7 December 2023

A graduate of London College of Fashion, Mikky Kuang is an award-winning artist in the realm of moving images within the art industry. Her work has earned her accolades and nominations globally, demonstrating her creativity to stretch beyond traditional boundaries. Her works always deliver different emotions of exploring the world from a sensitive but unique point of view as a new generation.

Focusing on the subtle interplay between art, culture, and her perspective as a female artist, Mikky's work is her dedication to uncovering the power of artistry in the modern context. Trying to reshape people's perceptions of art, culture, and fashion while emphasizing the importance of the female artist's voice in the ever-evolving global landscape, her work quietly invites us to   discover new sensory dimensions through the eyes of a deeply committed and visionary young artist.

Your practice beautifully explores the interplay of delicate emotions and the power of nature. Can you share a specific moment or experience that first inspired you to use moving images as a medium for expressing these intricate emotions?

I am deeply fascinated by the power of moving images. 

During my Master’s studies, I acquired extensive knowledge of systematic techniques in filmmaking and have worked on many projects. I enjoyed them a lot, but when I spend time with myself, I start to try some more experimental and random methods. Unrestricted by any rules, allowing the lens just to follow the flow of my mind — I found that truly captivates me even more than those meticulously designed and repeatedly shot scenes. I used to chase after perfection all the time, but eventually, I realized that imperfections and flaws are also vibrant and authentic, mirroring the essence of life. So I believe moving images is an excellent medium for expressing the feeling of ‘alive’.

How do you go about finding and capturing those delicate moments where human and natural realms intersect, and what draws you to explore this intersection?

Influenced by the New Materialism art practice which emphasizes a philosophical engagement with materials, I view the body and nature as collaborators in my creative process, rather than mere means to achieve any goal. Thus, I approach capturing moments at the intersection of human and natural realms by shooting from various perspectives, embracing the spontaneous realness and randomness in the whole creative process. Whether it's the dynamics in ocean waves, stones, volcanic ash, or the human body, my lens just serves as a passive observer, resonating with or contrasting the vibrant interplay of these elements beyond consideration of any deliberate attempt.

You mention that your work reflects the fragility and sensitivity inherent in femininity. Could you elaborate on how femininity, vulnerability, and the boundless beauty of nature intersect in your art?

In my artistic exploration, I intertwine the sensory experiences and the unique emotions they evoke, aiming to delve into the organic connections and ecological philosophy between humanity, nature, and culture. Inspired by those pioneering ecological artists, my work ‘Isolated’ employs visual art to portray the exploration and perception of femininity, centered on the interconnections of human society, nature, and the cosmos. The girl in the artwork is neither a model nor professionally trained; instead, as a committed feminist and contemporary performing artist, she immerses herself deeply in nature and then expresses herself through improvised movements, making these connections vividly visible.

Film is known for its imperfections and unique textures. How do these qualities of the medium play a role in expressing the delicate emotions and the power of nature in your work?

I shared my fascination for the wonder of film and the apparent reality. For me, the most attractive part of using film as the medium lies in its adherence to certain rules during the creation process, yet it also allows for unexpected serendipity. Similar to life's unpredictability, the final outcome remains uncertain until revealed. Throughout my creation, much like the diverse perspectives of different individuals, or the varied seasons and even different times of day, the same landscape can show drastically different visual effects by using film. I think this kind of characteristic can create a range of different possibilities, contributing to the rich tapestry of emotions and the profound essence of nature captured.

Your work seems to draw a parallel between the ocean's power and its tender, fragile side through the process of repetition and deep connection. Can you delve deeper into this connection?

My work ‘isolated’ initially stems from the idea that ‘everyone is an island’, using experimental methods to create. When exploring this theme further, I realize that despite being distinct entities, both humans and the ocean are defined by boundaries: an individual's boundary is the skin, while the ocean's boundary is the coastline. While humans possess cognitive abilities and complex relationships, the ocean has its own complete and intricate ecosystem as well. Yet, neither is truly ‘isolated’ as both are intricate, fragile components of larger systems – Ultimately, individuals and the ocean's role as part of the Earth are interconnected in this symbiotic coexistence. This analogy underscores the deep connection between individual isolation and the silent strength and vulnerability within the vastness of the ocean.

Can you share some of the challenges and rewards of working with film photography in the digital age, where instant gratification and precision are often the norm?

Yes. For sure, speed and precision are always expected in the digital age. But I have to say that I do find more inner peace in the bustling world when I'm in the very slow process of exploring and capturing emotions through those old or experimental techniques. While instant gratification prevails, I still cherish creating delicate and whimsical art just for my own fulfilment, not wishing to become trends or immortal - being an innocent kid in my own world and creating without seeking approval or trying to please anyone. This has brought me a great sense of joy. For me, that's enough :)

Nature and its beauty play a significant role in your work. Are there specific natural elements or landscapes that hold a special place in your heart and have consistently inspired your photography?

I am always inspired by the unknown landscapes. As a visual artist, I like the connections formed in human interactions, yet I'm also obsessed with the pleasure of solitude found in the vast and untouched landscapes where words fail. 

Just like Tolstoy once noted that, in socializing we connect with parts of a group, but in solitude we connect with the entirety and the source of all things. Therefore, I am drawn to those remote natural settings, particularly those less-explored shores, where the harmony of nature and humanity converges, reminiscent of the serene gaze between a mother and her child.

What's on the horizon for your artistic journey? Are there any upcoming projects or themes you are excited to explore in your future work or any specific goals you'd like to achieve as an artist?

In my artistic journey, I'll continue to explore visual art and moving images. My aspiration is to maintain authenticity, persistently delve into the unknown, and let my artworks speak for themselves. Much like ‘Isolated’, where serendipity led me to the scarcely populated volcanic island of Lanzarote during the pandemic. Embracing all the uncertainties, I willingly allowed them to participate in both my artistic expression and reality.

In your opinion, how can art be a positive driving force in the current contemporary atmosphere?

In my view, art has evolved beyond traditional aesthetic values and has already become a tool for contemporary humans to expand our understanding of the world. When I'm watching Damien's paintings, Nolan's films, or even some stunning AI-generated art, just like a revealing glimpse of the future, I gain a fresh perception of this world. Art, was originally an observer and critic of human life, now, with the development of modern society and human intellect, I believe art can stimulate new insights for us. This will alter our cognitive framework and then contribute to the brand new envisioning of our future.

What message or call to action would you like to leave our readers with?

I like to observe all the time. When it comes to human lives, it seems like people are always trapped by ceaseless desires and obsessions, leaving them exhausted in their relentless pursuits. However, I'd like to say that if you zoom out, like a director of your life, you'll discover vast landscapes and a boundless universe —- A human life spans just a few decades, and it’s just like a fleeting moment in the grandeur of existence. All distinctions are ultimately illusions.

As one of my favorite philosophers Spinoza puts it, "Sub specie aeternitatis," let’s empower ourselves by viewing our lives through the lens of eternity.

All images courtesy of Mikky Kuang.

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