In today’s conversation w/ Nemo Chen, we are thrilled to sit down with a pioneering lens-based artist who is transforming fashion and art through the groundbreaking use of artificial intelligence. Let’s delve into this mesmerizing blend of technology and creativity.
Thank you so much for being with us today. Let’s start at the beginning. How did you get into photography, and what inspired you to specialize in fashion?
Pressing the shutter feels like a bodily intuition, and processing the images feels like conscious control, exploration, and experimentation. Rather than defining myself as a photographer, I prefer to call myself a lens-based artist, I believe it’s a more accurate expression. Fashion photography is like discovering the most playable game from an arcade machine. Creating images for marvelous designers and garments is a particularly enjoyable and privileged experience. It’s like writing an essay with a given subject constraint while also having the freedom to reshape the spirit of the work. Exploring how to use symbolic visual elements, depicting the subtle absurdity of daily life, and extending a narrative with a temporal dimension in still images are all very interesting subjects. 按下快门的瞬间对我来说像是一种身体的直觉,而对于图像的处理则像是一种有意识的控制,探索 和实验。比起定义自己为摄影师,我更愿意称自己为Lens-based artist. 我认为这个表达更为准确。 时尚摄影对我来说则像从古早游戏机中发现的一款可玩性最高的游戏,能为欣赏的设计师和设计作 品创作图像是一见尤为享受的事情,就像写一篇命题作文,你在获得来源于subject 约束的同时,也 获得了一份重塑作品精神的自由。如何使用象征性的视觉符号,如何表现日常生活中微小的荒诞, 如何在静止图像中延伸出一个具有时间维度的叙事,这些都是非常有趣的课题。
You’ve mentioned that you use artificial intelligence in your work. Could you explain how you incorporate AI into your creative process and how it has changed your approach to photography and design?
In my recent creations, I have attempted to combine AI-generated content (AIGC) with photographic images through post-production. Currently, AI tools are not yet capable of precise control over the elements in the composition. However, from a creator’s perspective, AI tools will undoubtedly be a game changer for fashion photography in the foreseeable future. They provide more possibilities for both on-location and studio shoots, reducing limitations on imagination and effectively lowering production costs. 我在最新的几次创作中都试图将AIGC 和摄影图像通过后期合成结合起来,现阶段的AI工具还无法 实现对画面元素的精准控制。但从一个创作者的角度来讲,在一个可预见的未来,AI工具对时尚摄 影来说无疑是一个game changer. 它为实景和棚拍都提供了更多可能性,减少了对想象力实现的限 制,也有效地降低了制作成本。
Many of our readers are young people interested in fashion and technology. What advice would you give to those who are interested in combining these two fields, as you have done?
Let’s just have some fun with it. zero preconceptions and dogmas, embrace the era. 就是赶紧玩儿起来吧。抛弃成见,抛弃教条,拥抱时代。
In your work, you often present a futuristic vision of fashion. How do you see the future of fashion in the next decade, particularly in relation to the development of AI?
I remain optimistic about the future of fashion and try to avoid pessimism about the future of fashion practitioners. lol. The contemporary internet mindset has generated many homogenized ideas, with too many products of restlessness, impatience, and rapidity imposed on every corner of the world. This is particularly evident in the field of AI art. A plethora of similar ideas, even with algorithmic transformations, only result in wholesale products with better visual effects. In this era, it becomes even more crucial to establish personal differentiation, find yourself, and be yourself. The more powerful AI becomes, the flaw in one’s mind turns more obvious. 我对时尚的未来保持乐观,对时尚从业者的未来尽量避免悲观,哈哈哈。当代互联网思维催生出了 很多同质化的想法, 太多不安、急躁、快速的产物填鸭在世界的各个角落,这一点在目前AI艺术的 领域体现得尤为明显。大量雷同的创意即使经过算法也只会转化为视觉效果更好的批发产品。用商 业的角度来看,在这个时代语境下,做出个人差异化,找到自己,成为自己显得更为重要。AI功能越 强大,思维的瑕疵就越显眼。
There is an ongoing discussion about the use of digital models in the fashion industry. Do you believe AI could come to replace human models, or will it simply become another tool for fashion designers?
AI models cannot replace human models. A face, a body means more than just a good-looking display. The person standing in front of you, their looks, represents a community, the cultural attributes, the physical characteristics it was born with and given, the experience and personal spirit it belongs to, all contribute to how it looks and presents itself here. All of these contribute to their appearance and state. Although people sometimes need to demonstrate their functionality in the social machine, we are not simply products. I believe this would be a value that good brands recognize. 我不认为AI模特可以取代人类模特。一张脸,一幅躯体的意义不仅仅只是一个好看的展示物。站在 你眼前的这个人,这幅面孔,ta所代表的社群,文化属性,与生俱来和被赋予的身体特征,属于ta 的 经历和个人精神,都造就了ta 站在这里呈现出的样子和状态。即使人有时候必须体现自己在社会机 器中的功能性,但人不是产品,我相信这也是好的品牌会看到的价值。
Fashion has always been a medium for expressing identity and culture. As we incorporate more technology and AI into the design, how do you think we can maintain that humanity and personal expression in fashion?
This is a very interesting question that reminds me of my experiences in image experimentation. As I mentioned earlier, due to the low controllability of current AI, I feel a subtle struggle when trying to generate images according to my imagination.
Do you follow your original ideas or accept the unexpected sparks brought by the algorithm?
Are you willing to clumsily attempt hundreds of times to approximate the effect in your mind or simply surrender to the miracles of AI?
This almost triggers philosophical reflections on the objective world, mind, and heart. 其实这是一个很有意思的问题,让我联想到了我图像实验的经历。正如我前面提到的,由于目前AI 的可控性低,我在试图生成自己想象中的图像时感受到了一种微妙的角力,你究竟是要跟随你原始 的想法,还是接受算法所带来的预期之外的火花?你是愿意更笨拙地去用数百遍尝试和修改接近你 脑海中的那个效果,还是简单地臣服于AI的神迹顺势而为?这几乎引发了有关客观世界、我的脑与 我的心的哲学思考。
Working in Chicago, you’ve undoubtedly seen how fashion can both influence and be influenced by pop culture and the entertainment industry. How do you see AI fitting into this symbiotic relationship in the future?
AI will not destroy or surpass existing cultural foundations. It is a good tool and subject, existing between the physical and the void. As AI permeates more aspects of people’s lives, AIGC will likely have its own domain, just like NFTs. 我认为AI不会破坏或凌驾于现存的文化土壤之上,它是很好的工具也是很好的题目,游离在实体与 虚无之间。随着AI更加全面的渗透多数人的生活,AIGC大概率会拥有属于自己的一块领域,就像NFTs 一样。
How has the fashion industry changed since you began incorporating AI into your designs, and what do you believe will be the long-term impact of technology on fashion? Now is a boom period for people to contact and try AI. Most people are still open to it because the entry barrier is not high, and everyone can quickly experience the charm of technology.
At the same time, it has also led to many concerns and discussions about AI replacing or reducing the need for a significant number of jobs. This is the inevitable progression of the times. So, embrace the era, just because why not? 现在正是大家新接触和尝试AI的一个热潮期吧,大部分人还是持开放态度的,因为使用门槛并不高, 人人可以快速体验科技的魅力。与此同时也引发了很多对于ai 取代或减少大量工作需求的担忧和讨 论。我觉得这是时代进步的必然,还是那句话,拥抱时代吧。不然也没啥别的办法了。
Lastly, could you share with us any exciting future project you are currently working on that combines fashion, photography, and AI?
I’m working on an AI Art project that explores how our physical features and social environment influence our definition of beauty. It’s an ongoing project, and I’m collecting personal stories about beauty, body, and trauma. Everyone interested in participating is welcome to contact me (ig: @nemo.cxx). I’m also preparing a photography project investigating the relationship between contemporary nomadic communities and their living environments. I plan to shoot with medium or large format film, and I’m considering whether to incorporate AI technology. 我在做一个关于我们的身体特征和社会环境会如何影响我们对美的定义的AI Art 项目,这是一个持 续性开放作品,目前还在征集大家有关美、身体和童年创伤有关的私人故事,欢迎有兴趣参与的朋 友们联络我。(ig: @nemo.cxx)同时也在筹备一个调查当代nomads 群体与居住环境的关系的摄影 项目,目前计划用中画幅或大画幅胶片进行拍摄,还在考虑是否将AI技术融入进去。
Given that you’ve lived in both China and Chicago, how have these diverse experiences influenced your perspective and approach toward fashion photography and design?
This is related to the impulse of creation, and it reminds me of recent discussions among bilingual or multilingual individuals regarding the creative process in their native language. Besides some self-censorship factors, everything comes down to your intent. Many topics are more controversial and likely to attract attention in a Western context that I can’t and won’t pursue because they don’t belong to my community and are not real-life issues I have indeed seen and felt. Instead of letting fancy words and delicate expressions overshadow precious experiences, I prefer to stammer about the rough reality. I rely more on the observations, research, thinking patterns, and habits I naturally developed in the United States to study issues that have higher and more personal relevance to myself. In my creative process, I naturally adopt a multicultural perspective, and that is unavoidable. 这跟创作冲动相关,我联想到前阵子有关双语者或多语者对于母语创作的讨论。排除掉中文语境下 的一些自我审查因素,一切都有关于你的发心。很多在西方语境中更讨巧更容易吸引人关注的主题 我没办法也不会去做,因为那不是我所属的群体,不是我真听真看真感受过的人生课题。比起让华 丽词汇和精细的表达淹没了珍贵的体验,我更愿意结结巴巴地讲述真实。对我来说,我更多的是用 我在美国天然形成的观察,调研,和思维方式和习惯去研究跟我自己相关性更高,更私人的问题。 或许我在创作时天然的就带有一些多元文化氛围的视角,这个是无法避免的。