Vivian Wenli Lin


Artist Statement
I discovered the medium of video through a series of psychological tics that started when I was a child. I developed a neurotic habit of counting syllables of words and phrases on the tips of my fingers. These tics came from a powerful need for self-control and order, an issue that I find myself still dealing with to this day. However, it was in place of this obsession that I began to record everything that occurred in my life. My memories become boxes filled with photos, VHS cassettes, hi-8, digital-8, and now mini-DV tapes. In a morbid desire to immortalize myself, all of my experiences were captured for whomever to discover upon my death and view my life. This death wish came from trying to understand my place in this world, who I was, and where I was going in my life. From hallucinating on mushrooms to obscured sexual encounters in addition to the everyday mundane – these tapes, although a part of me, have become glimpses of a self I once knew.

As a result of this neurosis, video became my primary vehicle of expression for nearly 16 years. A medium and environment where I wield control and censorship, I could dictate exactly what the world saw of me. My videos reflected the cities I lived in. Incorporating the underground scenes of music and spoken word in syncopation to my visualized thoughts. Angry, fierce, and proactive, these videos demanded restitution and a place within society. In contrast to these works, I chose to also silently reveal myself in self-portrait, nude, vulnerable and exposed in the camera’s glare. I began to see through my own eyes, a world created through montage and edit points. I grasped everything through my eyes, my lens, that I could possibly record and archive. Video artist, Pipilotti Rist, refers to her eyes as “two-blood powered cameras”, which she uses to address issues of her sexuality. The gaze of my lens aims to deconstruct the female myth by providing an alternative vision and voice by personalizing a woman’s experience in her society.

As a Taiwanese-American female video artist, I struggled to define my own definition of video as a means of personal representation versus personal expression. The video camera serves as a mirror and a means of internal and external reflection. Through this lens, I focus on women who also have a similar identity and strange sense of place in this world. This desire to deconstruct the female myth comes from a place within myself. I aim to illustrate the diversity of the female experience – their sexuality, obsessions, and fears through portraits of these unconventional subjects. Through this personal and visual language, I challenge assumptions that exist within gender, culture, and identity.