Interview with Professor Wang Chuan, the head of the Future Image Laboratory

from: time:

Prof. Wang Chuan

PhD supervisor, Director of Development Planning Division and Director of International Cooperation and Exchange Division, VAII Deputy Director. He graduated from Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, Australia in 2000. He has long been committed to the study of the existence of Chinese tradition in current social life, paid attention to the interdisciplinary trends of art and technology, and stressed the exploration of photography as a visual medium.

Interviewee: Wang Chuan (the head of Future Image Laboratory)
Interviewers: Zhang Yueyan, Luan Ning
time: Sept. 20, 2019
Location: CAFA Future Image Laboratory


VAII: As the head of VAII Future Image Laboratory of CAFA, what are your work plans? How is the progress?

Wang Chuan: This year we launched the second phase of the Tongzhou Visual Memory project, namely, The Art Town of Xiaobao Village. With the established fundamental work in the first phase, the second phase went smoothly in the setting of work methods, work organization, work efficiency and work focus. Therefore, for the 2nd phase, the proportion of picture design is greater than image acquisition. This time we have developed a method of frame-fixing continuous play, which was not worked out in the first one. The project is currently available online, and the cooperation between us and travel companies is progressing.
Our other project is “Rebirth——the Digital Innovation on the Relics of Yuanmingyuan", and the university attaches great importance to it. The status of Yuanmingyuan does not come up with its historical resources being a historical park. It is in an urgent need to make some improvements. At present, we have carried out related work. In addition, we will also support the preparation of the Beijing Photo Biennale, corresponding to VAII’s research field of "Image Beijing". The exhibition will cover the construction of urban visual memory, the remodeling and innovation of urban cultural and historical resources, and image-related international art brands.
To put it frankly, the bottleneck for the advancement of laboratory work comes from funding.

Tongzhou Visual Memory Project

Rebirth——the Digital Innovation on the Relics of Yuanmingyuan

Rebirth——the Digital Innovation on the Relics of Yuanmingyuan

VAII: As far as image / photography technology is concerned, what do you think will be the development of image in the future?

Wang Chuan: I wont go straight to answer what it will look like, but we can judge its direction, and the direction must be traceable from the present. Take the image system introduced in the first phase of "Tongzhou Visual Memory" in our laboratory for example, this cutting-edge image technology can almost complete in one second the entire process of obtaining, processing, and disseminating images. This actually represents the development trend of images. It will be highly intelligent and highly humanized with extremely high efficiency and great capacity.
Our laboratory combines traditional archival social records with new technologies. This is our innovative use of the new and the old technology systems. I believe while photography in future is rapidly moving towards artificial intelligence, it must also be diversified. Reverse activation in different stages will produce different results. In all, the medium of image will become diversified and rich. That is why I advocate "emphasizing two ends" in CAFA’s photography education, the most traditional part represented by the darkroom and the late technology represented by new algorithms such as AI, the two being mutually correspondent in its theories and ideas. As images processing becomes easier and easier from a technical perspective, the discussion around photography will also extend for those who are involved in photography, including those who are engaged in photo shooting, photograph reading, and photograph using. All researches on the people, society, culture, text, etc. will be incorporated into the discussion of photography and will constitute its new subject content. These are my two judgments about the future.

The exhibition of Tongzhou Visual Memory Project

VAII: As the head of VAII Future Image Laboratory of CAFA, what mission do you think the laboratory undertake?

Wang Chuan: The  Future Image Laboratory may have a role as a link between the past and the future. It will guide and pave the way for the future construction and teaching practice of a new photography discipline that is based on the art discipline. I don’t take it as a mission, but one of the functions it conducts. High-tech innovation itself is closely related to the Double-First Class discipline construction. Our practice, research results, theoretical discussions, and research judgments will all become part of the academic ideas for future photography teaching.

VAII: In terms of talent training, what role does the laboratory play in promoting the Double-First Class discipline construction?

Wang Chuan: At present, the part of work the laboratory does is not  quite directly connected to talent training. Yet, it’s admitted that all graduate students that participated in the laboratory projects have gained some in their academic studies, understanding of the media, and mastering of technologies. My ideal for it is far more than that, though. My understanding of the studio is project-based and program-based. And It should recruit students from various disciplines, even those with science and engineering backgrounds. We should indeed strengthen the training of talents from across borders. The sources of students are very fundamental, although there remains various restrictions on the enrollment.

VAII: As VAII Deputy Director, what are your expectations for its future?

Wang Chuan: The journey of thousands of miles begins with one step, and all visions are based on practical work. The urgent task remains in the management work of VAII, which is far from being capable of providing strong support and mechanism protection for the laboratories and  studios to implement their projects.

Spatial Date —— Building Renovation Project


Chief Editor / Dong Huiping
Text/ Luan Ning
Layout Editor / Zhang Yueyan, Miaom
Photo Source: CAFA VAII Future Image Laborator