Photographer Ping Wang graduated from the New York Film Academy in 2014 and is currently completing a Master’s in Digital photography at the School of Visual Arts in New York. His works display themes of isolation, solitude and resignation in a variety of different settings and are teemed with a sense of renowned admiration, a timeless energy, as if one were seeing the world again for the first time. I caught up with the artist to find out more.
Hi Ping, tell me a little bit about yourself.
Born and raised in Beijing, I am the single child in a traditional military family. No one in my family has any background in art; actually, my family still do not really understand what exactly I am doing now. I live and work in New York City. My photographic works evidence a delicate balance between Eastern and Western visual culture, resulting in a personal style characterized by drama and restrain. My emotional sensitivity drives me to focus on the subtleties of light, architecture and the moments that often go unobserved.
What are your inspirations?
Talking about inspirations, I have to mention Michael Jackson. He is the first western artist came into my world. The first time I saw the video of his Billie Jean performance in his concert, his stage lighting and the way he controls the rhythm of the performance fascinated me. That triggered my interest in music videos and stage arts. Since then I began to explore the dramatic stage setting and the way to present the climax of the scene.
Are there any particular artists that have influenced you?
Tableau Photography: Gregory Crewdson, Jeff Wall, Ray K Metzker
Painting: Edward Hopper, René Magritte | Minjun Yue
Your photographs are very theatrical in the way that they are staged, like the sets to a film. How has film influenced your work, if at all?
Actually, I am more influenced by music videos and live performances (and stage arts). Because music videos are so short and delicate, I feel that it is more significant to focus on the rhythm and hit the climax than actually telling a story. Similarly to my works, I tend to present a feeling or a vibe instead of telling a complete story. Also, talking about music videos, Michael Jackson’s music video Smooth Criminal greatly influenced me in how it carefully stages every scene, and how each scene is related to one another.
Do you think that our ability to interact with one another is being affected by the digital within our lives?
Well, I would say the digital or digital lifestyle within our lives enables us to be exposed to the outside world. I can see what everyone is doing more easily, and can get inspirations from other artists’ works. It accelerates the speed of getting know each other, but also makes it hard to “really” know each other—the connection could only be on the surface.
From time to time, as an artist, I feel that I need a space to be isolated from the outside world in order to discover myself. Sometimes artists might lose their direction when marketing their career, but they really need to “go back to the nature”. For me, I don’t have a logical storyline behind my works; I focus on the feelings. Isolation enables me to discover this feeling. It opens up a door to let the curiousness and aspirations in, and my feelings are then automatically projected onto certain objects to make a photograph.
You grew up in Beijing and now live in New York. To what extent have these cities influenced your visions?
The military community in Beijing, a relatively closed, rigorous and a secure place for me. That environment influenced me a lot in the form of my works; you could see very few people in my works, in a clean and precise setting. But New York helps me to be fearless. Being with so many talented artists in New York, I feel free and bold to break the “rules” in my mind.