Sometimes, we feel like social media is dominating the world by occupying our time and energy. Is it good, or terrible?
To help us figure out, we’ve interviewed John Yuyi, the Taiwanese artist/photographer/ model (known being a Gucci meme, the #TFWGucci campaign) getting her opinion on this phenomenon.
in MANDARIN & English
The FULL MANDARIN version
TP 很多人利用刺青的圖案，來展現自我意識，你的FACE POST系列將社群媒體裡的符號直接印在身上，彷彿在暗諷人們被社群給封印、制約，或是表現出現代人的自我意識被社群給操縱。這個作品的靈感是從哪而來？
Yuyi 其實在最初，我沒有直接聯想到「刺青反諷」這麼深沉的意義。但的確，我想表達社群媒體的一個迴旋、一層一層的無底洞，以及人與社群互相牽制的 – 一種社會感受的表現。當時會開始把這些元素放在身上，是為了promote我的粉專，之後繼續做，是覺得如果我們把這些我們在網路的照片、資料、數據等，放回真實的臉上，再次發佈在社群網站，會是蠻有意思的。
Yuyi 黑暗到爆啊！我最愛網路的地方，是我可以越洋跟我最愛的家人、好友連係，對於這點，我很感恩。最痛恨的當然就是抄襲、不尊重，跟負面的言論，還有當自己意識到被社群媒體影響情緒 – 我最討厭這個。
TP 關於網路藝術抄襲，對你來說，怎麼樣算是「Cross the line」？
Yuyi 對我來說，很多人吸收同樣的時代資訊，很容易有相同靈感，這完全ok；你被 inspired 而創作，我也完全 ok。但如果你只是拿了別人的東西，卻懶惰於創造自己的風格，直接盜取，賺取利益，那就很不尊重。但我相信，這樣的投機，永遠不可能超越原作。面對這件事，我把它當作動力，推自己達到新的層次！另外，這個舉動，在發達快速的網路世界，也是一種基本尊重。
TP 你有過台北與紐約兩地不同的生活經驗，這兩個地方分別讓你感到最無法忍受的 Terrible People 是哪種樣子？
Yuyi 在台北，我最討厭愛批評的、碎碎念的人、與老屁股。有些人自以為在業界很久，覺得你們都很菜，或是嘲諷別人- 拿一台相機就覺得自己是攝影師等等。但有些人就是天生有美感，做什麼都厲害啊！另一種人，是自己也想有一番成就事業，卻因為怕失敗，什麼事都沒做，卻整天碎嘴別人…比如：「你看他做的那個東西超醜的！」先不論作品醜不醜，別人至少在做，比你勇敢。不然就真的不要有夢想啊，奇怪！還有現在得道、就看別人不起、不尊重、有大頭症的人。做人要善良，你得罪的，說不定是未來的大人物。在紐約，我對於處理所有種族歧視議題，或是對種族議題太敏感的人，感到很疲憊。
Yuyi 帶著我現在的記憶所學回去15年前，開始把所有最酷的東西做光，發表最酷品牌的 collection，把最喜歡的藝術家的作品手法也做光，比別人先一步 大用網路，然後當一個時尚藝術小神童，好邪惡喔（笑）！
TP 最後，從1到10，你認為自己的 Terrible 程度是幾分？為什麼？
THE SHORT ENGLISH VERSION
TP Hi Yuyi! Tell us, do you think the Internet is terrible in some ways? In general, what do you love and hate about the Internet?
Yuyi The Internet is terrible! The part I love about it is that it makes it easier to connect with my beloved family and friends overseas, and I’m grateful for that. The parts I hate are definitely plagiarism, disrespect, and negative comments. Finally, the worst part for me is when you realise that your mood is affected by social media.
TP You’ve mentioned that the Internet has been the best era for being an artist. However, it also creates the problem of plagiarism. What do you think?
Yuyi The good always comes with the bad. So you need to learn how to use it, enjoy it and take its benefits, but you can’t just take the good parts. It’s your choice to use it. You can choose to live away from it, however the consequences will be that fewer people know you. Social media can bring various opportunities. There will be people who plagiarise your work, people who are better than you, and these will come to you naturally. The only thing you can do is to self-reflect and improve yourself.
TP What would you consider to be “crossing the line” when it comes to plagiarism?
Yuyi To credit your inspiration is a way to show your respect on the Internet. I’m ok with having the same idea since we all live in the same world, absorbing the same information. It’s normal to have a similar thought. I’m also fine with those who are being inspired and create their own works. However, I cannot endure people who just take other’s works and make money from it. These people are just being lazy. That is very disrespectful. But I believe these works will never surpass the originals. When I face these situations, I take it as a motivation to drive myself to another level!
TP People tend to express their personality with their tattoos. In your Face Post series, you used the temporary tattoo to represent social media. Does it mean that social media is stuck to us like permanent tattoos?
Yuyi That’s not my original intention, but it indeed represents the feeling of the relation and restriction between human beings and social media. My original intention of putting multiple elements on humans’ bodies was to promote my social media page. After that, I thought it can be interesting to take the contents we posted on our social media, put it back on people’s faces, and re-post it to social media. It’s like an endless loop.
TP They say that the Internet turns people into narcissists. Do you consider narcissism a disease of our contemporary society?
Yuyi I think narcissism is just being visualized. For example, there are more and more people willing to share their depression because it’s no longer an embarrassing thing to say. I consider many emotions are already exist, including narcissism. It is sort of a good thing to make your brain release dopamine that makes you happy and confident when you know there are people who like you and admire you. I also feel that narcissism is just a phenomenon since the popularity of writing blogs. I won’t say it’s a disease.
TP Do you think it takes narcissism to be an Internet artist?
Yuyi Absolutely on a certain level. But I also feel an interesting topic is narcissism and inferiority complex. In my opinion, we all have 50% of each, they counterbalance one another. Why do people use social media? People feel narcissism and inferiority, but they enjoy having other’s attention. I met a lot of people who are arrogant or narcissistic outside, but insecure inside. For me, I enjoy getting attention and I don’t feel any shame in exposing myself to everyone (even if some people might think I’m lame).
TP On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you think you are a narcissist?
Yuyi I don’t think I’m a narcissist, I just enjoy myself a lot. I like being extravagant and wearing exaggerated clothes. It’s difficult to judge just the scale of narcissism, I think I have 5 of that, but also 6.5 of confidence and 9 out of 10 just being at ease.
TP You have a unique sense of humour
in your artworks, like pretending the nails are eyeballs, a butt as a credit card machine and faces on your teeth. What are the stories behind those works?
Yuyi There were no stories behind these artworks, I thought it was funny, so I did it. Isn’t it childish behaviour pretending a butt is a credit card machine? I had the idea of faces on teeth since last year, but I only posted it recently (procrastination). For the nail eyeballs, it took me 20 minutes from having the idea to finishing the photo shooting.
TP Having the experience of living in both Taipei and New York, could you describe the most terrible/unbearable people or situations you will remember forever?
Yuyi In Taipei, I hate those who like to judge other people. The old farts and nagging people. Especially people who think they are better than others because they had more experience in the industry. They tend to say things in a sarcastic tone like: “don’t think you’re already a professional photographer by holding a camera!” But some young people do have a natural sense of aesthetic! In Taiwan, everything needs to follow the rules, and older people are stubborn. Also, I hate those people who don’t do anything because of the fear of failing. These people like to give negative comments or tease others about their work…but no matter how good or bad the work is, at least others are trying to achieve their dream, so they are already much braver than those doing nothing. Moreover, for those successful people who tend to look down on each other, disrespect each other or who are being big-headed – be nice to people, you will never know what will happen in the future. The people you tease today may become moguls one day! In New York, I just felt really tired of dealing with all of the racist issues or people who are sensitive to it.
TP Before we finish, on a scale of 1 to 10, how terrible would you say you are? (10 is the most terrible) and why?
Yuyi 5.5. I consider myself a nice person, especially because I’m a Pisces. However, I’m really bad at emotional control and I easily get depressed. Also, I have some health conditions, which is quite terrible for living as a human being. In my artworks and everyday living, I have no intention of provoking anyone, but if there are still people who hate me, I cannot do anything.
TP How terrible would you say the social media is?
Yuyi 87 points, can’t be higher! 87 (pronounce bae-chi) sounds like “idiot” in Taiwanese, which young people often use in an ironic way to express their feelings.
TP Thank so much, Yuyi, for answering all these questions. 88 (bye bye)!
Words collected by Yuting huang & Illustration by Louis Calot.