WHAT WHY HOW, 2011, Single channel video with sound, 7 min.

Roughly translated, the Chinese name for Cheng Ran’s new solo show is “day becomes night.” He chose its English name, “Circadian Rhythm,” with the help of translation software. Although the core of the show is his newest video work, WHAT WHY HOW, the entire show is laid out in such a way that the relationship of each of its other parts with the core is preserved. Such care ensures that the show remains an integrated whole.

“When I was thinking about how to display this video, I wanted to do it right, in a nice, symmetrical space, with flowers on both sides of “the screen— like the flowers in one of Pieter Bruegel’s still lifes— with some dignified, colorful-looking butterfly specimens on top of them. The video is in the middle, like a big mirror in the middle of someone’s living room, with the sound and the video for ‘To be, or not to be’ running in a loop, lingering in the air. It’s direct, to the point. It’s just that one sentence, asking you that one question.

“In its earliest form, this video was really simple. I like watching movies. There’s something interesting in all of them, like if it’s really violent, or if there are zombies. So I started to think: why are there movies like this? Why do people watch them? Why not watch something that makes you happy? That was where the whole idea for the piece got started. I would never use a concept as the starting point for the video. I think I’m a traditionalist in the sense that I rely on so-called “inspiration.” You could say I shoot as the spirit moves me. As soon as the thought occurs to me, I move on it, even when everything’s still up in the air. For me, “experience” is something closed and reactionary. I try to make my works as “inexperienced” as possible.” –CHENG RAN