Liu Bolin: The Invisible Man (Video)

Transcript:

I’m Liu Bolin. Right now I’m in my studio.

Liu Bolin: The Invisible Man, Chinese artist who blends himself into a background.

I’ve worked continuously on “Hiding in the City”. I take my body and hide it into the background. From a certain angle, it looks like I’m invisible.

Today I’m blending into Austrian magazines.

Liu Bolin: The Invisible Man, Chinese artist who blends himself into a background.

These magazines influence people’s thoughts. Just from the covers, you can see, for example, a country’s wars, leaders, politics, and scandals. Different languages, faces, and events.

It’s very interesting.

Liu Bolin: The Invisible Man, Chinese artist who blends himself into a background.

Liu Bolin: The Invisible Man, Chinese artist who blends himself into a background.

Liu Bolin: The Invisible Man, Chinese artist who blends himself into a background.

Liu Bolin: The Invisible Man, Chinese artist who blends himself into a background.

Liu Bolin: The Invisible Man, Chinese artist who blends himself into a background.

I began shooting this series in November 2005. I was working in the artist village Sui Jia Cun. I had a studio there, torn down by the government. At the time, I wanted to protest. Actually, it was like being hit, and hitting back.

I made myself disappear.

Liu Bolin: The Invisible Man, Chinese artist who blends himself into a background.

I use each work to respond to my encounters. More are focused on China and concerns that arise from its development.

Liu Bolin: The Invisible Man, Chinese artist who blends himself into a background.

Liu Bolin: The Invisible Man, Chinese artist who blends himself into a background.

Liu Bolin: The Invisible Man, Chinese artist who blends himself into a background.

To be an individual means, [in] the relationship you have with your surroundings, you’re not constantly allowing your surroundings to swallow you up. Or, to be an individual, let’s say you live to be 100 [which is more than enough], but in history, you were just a dot.

How did you make your mark?

Liu Bolin: The Invisible Man, Chinese artist who blends himself into a background.

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  • Hmm, I get the concept, but does he deserve all the credit for the photographs and the body painting?

    • Jin Ch’in

      Yes..lots of artist do not produce the art example..Jeff Koon, Cindy Sherman, Damien Hirst there’s to name a few. Even old european masters like Michelangelo and leonard de vinci had other artist paint parts of their work.

      • 五毛Partay!

        Yes. Give no credit to the people actually doing the work, just give credit to the people on top telling them what to do. That’s the way!

        • monmon

          Steve Jobs got credit for creating the iPad. Did he ever build one himself?

          • 五毛Partay!

            Singlehandedly in his garage with a pair of pliers and a pocket full of dreams.

    • 五毛Partay!

      Nope.

  • narsfweasels

    The trick kind of gets old when he’s always pretty much dead-centre in every picture. “Oh where is he?” “Look in the middle.” “Oh, I see, same as the last one…”

    Still, they’re entertaining enough and obviously a lot of effort obviously goes into this. Interesting to learn that this began as a form of protest. Maybe he should do one with him standing in front of the Chinese Comedy Party symbol?

    • ScottLoar

      “Maybe he should do one with him standing in front of the Chinese Comedy Party symbol?”

      I vote yours as the most creative suggestion to close out his schtick.

    • Rick in China

      I am thinking I’ll do one – except I’ll be painted as a Chinese guy in a sea of Chinese people..

    • missedthepoint

      the idea behind the work isn’t to find him like he’s waldo…

      • narsfweasels

        Believe me, friend, I absolutely TREASURE my ignorance on the world of so-called “art”.

  • These are always neat, you can always appreciate the art involved…but this certainly isn’t the first time I’ve seen someone painted to blend in almost flawlessly with the background. So he did not come up with this concept. He also didn’t paint himself. Why does this guy get any credit at all?

    • Jin Ch’in

      Why be such a hater?
      His work is pretty much in the same vain as Cindy Sherman work.

      • The fact that his work is the same as another artist’s work is why. I am asking where he deserves credit? The idea? No. The actual painting? No. He’s just standing there, practicing someone else’s art, with his assistants painting him.

        • Rick in China

          Curious who came up with this concept? If he’s just straight up copying someone else’s work and trying to act all profound about it, deserves mad hate. If there is something unique about it, deserves some credit. I’ve no idea, so asking – who was doing these kinda invisible painting/blending things before?

          • Jin Ch’in

            That’s the most ignorant thing i have heard and this is based on the fact he is Chinese right?

            Oil painting being used by many many artist does it mean only the first artist who invented it should have the right to the title “artist” and i am sure Van Gogh didn’t invent still life oil painting either so did he copy Matisse?

            Body painting have been around since the 60’s

          • Rick in China

            No, *fucktard*, once again you extrapolate some “oh protect the Chinese” notion out of a misconception. I’m simply asking a question, and you’re bringing up a completely different argument.

            There’s a difference between a profound/deep meaning in a specific representation of an artistic concept, and a fucking medium, you semi retarded protectionist butt hurt beyond reason monkey. Claiming some sort of unique profound viewpoint while making a direct copy of someone else who did the same thing with the same sort of view point is far different than using the same medium (ie. in your example, oil painting) to represent a totally different idea. I’m not even going to bother continuing with this explanation, if you don’t get that, then there’s no hope that this conversation would go anywhere. I’d vote you the most protectionist defensive fucktard on ChinaSmack at the moment – look at your chat record, it’s all the same shit. Get over it.

          • mr.wiener

            I think the semi retarded protectionist butt hurt beyond reason monkey does have a point this time.
            The copying thing could also be a piss-take on how the west sees Chinese culture and tech at the moment too.

          • Rick in China

            I fail to see the point, care to clarify? I didn’t mention anything about Chinese culture, nor Chinese, nor this artist in particular – I’d say the same thing about anyone who claims a concept as their own profound concept and speaks about it as if they’re breaking new ground on the way people think. Like I said – I don’t know if this is even the case here, and asked for some earlier artists who did the same thing..or even ‘the first’, I have no idea about painters doing this blending thing before this guy, and would be interested to know who has..and see some of their work.

          • mr.wiener

            His knee-jerk reaction to any criticism of a Chinese artist aside, I say he does have a point that just because art is copied and not done by the artist [commissioned to specialists] does not mean it is not art. As I mentioned earlier Jeff Coons is a good example of this. His 8′ by 10′ glossy photos of him giving a rim job to his Hungarian porn star wife [and Italian member of parliment] were described by the art critic Robert Hughes as “the last bubble of methane left in the dead bloated cow that is post modernism”, but it still got publicity, made money and was considered “Art”.
            Sometimes all art has to do is get noticed to be considered such, which is often an entirely other skill than craft or talent. Consider the famous photos of crucifixes in vats of urine or paintings made from elephant dung. Art is what you make of it [and is often a circle-jerk]

          • Rick in China

            My comment wasn’t about the said art/style/concept. It was about claiming a profound new concept, pretending to be deep and philosophical about how you came to think about a concept, and claiming it all at your own unique flower of an idea – THAT is what I dislike. I don’t know that it’s the case here. As far as copying an artists style – if you pay homage and appreciation for the giants’ shoulders on which you stand, then of course there is no problem with doing what other people before you have done – with hopefully your own twist on it. I never said it’s not art, either.. nor am I arguing what ‘art’ is – that’s a ridiculous argument. I’d still be interested in the history of this type of painting, other people who do it as their ‘bread and butter’ as an artist, or who the first one who did this is..because it’s very cool.

          • I think that would be one of the cases where a cigar is just a cigar.

            As for copying the other style, yes I know other artists copy each others work. I only mentioned this because he’s done fuck-all but stood there and let his assistants paint him. Well, I guess he paid them. My point was basically: Any of us could do this if we had the cash to afford a nice studio and a bunch of assistants like that. If he had taken someone else’s style and successfully emulated or, better yet, improved upon it with his own artistic skill, that’s good. Well, it’s good to me, at least. I’m not a big fan of this sort of thing.

            Basically, this video was “Everyone meet Liu Bolin, the man who stands really still while very talented, unnamed, faceless artists paint him and take a photo”.

          • Rick in China

            I’m not entirely in agreement with your definition of artist. I think coming up with a great idea but being unable to express it with physical talent – but being the core for managing and creating that end product is equally (or more) artistic than holding a brush and moving it according to instructions. Much in the way an inventor can’t necessarily build something, coming up with the blueprints and concept, he will be the ‘inventor’ as opposed to the engineers or labour he uses to produce his idea..

          • Right, no, I agree to an extent. However, the inventor analogy doesn’t work well here because Liu Bolin didn’t invent this idea. He didn’t really even invent the statement he’s trying to make. What Chinese artist hasn’t done a piece on China’s rise? Who hasn’t made artistic statements on people being faceless souls in the city, blending in with the surroundings? This is like taking the Chevrolet Spark and “inventing” the Chery QQ. I am not doubting this guy’s artistic creativity or ability. I just think this certain piece isn’t really that worthy of recognition aside from “hey that guy is blending in with the background, that’s cool”. It’s like if I had gotten a special interview about me because I wanted a custom watch built around a theme…Arkansas…so I called up some watch company (Fossil or whatever, I know shit all about watches really) and told them to stick a few Razorbacks on it. It’s been done, and I didn’t really come up with anything new, yet here’s this cool-looking, intricate watch that I “came up with” after having seen all this other Arkansas-themed stuff made in the same style.

            It would be better to see someone who takes an already established style or method, builds on it, improves on it, and adds his own style or spin on things. Take the old Nokia 3310 and invent the iPhone.

          • Rick in China

            We’re on the same page man. I’m not saying this guy *is* the inventor.. in my analogy, just saying that if he *were* he deserves the artistic credit moreso than the people following his instruction with brush strokes..

            In this case I seriously haven’t seen a ton of this type of work in the past so I was sincere in my quest for who has done this to a large extent before.

            I was most concerned with, like you said, his statements – sounding profound in how he’s representing his art, if he’s completely snatching the whole thing from someone else’ hands/mouth without paying homage, deserves hate..hence first statement, but if nobody can really point to someone else doing the same type of work / making the same statements, then deserves some credit. That was what my first statement was all about. :D

          • Haha I don’t mean to sound like I’m really hating on the guy or this art. It’s always pretty cool to see this sort of thing. I’m not that up on my artists so I can’t really name any names. I just had a 3D Art Studio class once to fill my arts requirement in university. That’s the extent of my sculpting/art/”extention-of-self” knowledge. I wish I were more cultured in this haha

          • BiggJ

            Yeah he did copy it….from an ALIEN!!!Here’s a few of predators works from 1987.

          • 五毛Partay!

            That’s exactly what I was thinking

          • linette lee

            hahahaha……..Bigg J. You are always funny. lol.

            He stole it from predator. Now the predator will hunt him down and collect his skull.

            Did you watch predator vs alien? IT was a bit silly but not too bad. IT’s always like all the old movies are better than all the new ones. I guess maybe the new movies they focus too much on computer effects. I am just glad they make blue ray for old movies.

          • BiggJ

            Yeah lol, Alien vs predator was good. I like the whole series. 1 and 2 are my favorite. Have you watched the newest one? It’s just called “predators”. The predators abduct some humans from earth and put them on this other planet and hunt them. I like the concept of it. I know i have seen predator 1 over 100 times lol. When I was younger it came on “The superstation” on tv. It’s an american tv channel. And they would play that movie I swear once a day. lol There is something about it though, if I was flippin though the channels and seen that movie on, I would always stop and watch it, lol

          • I’m not entirely sure, I just know I’ve seen and marveled at some of this stuff before. It’s a really cool idea, and takes a lot of skill to pull it off, of course. But, as far as having seen this work before…I’ve seen it in movies, even. There was that old serial killer film back in the 90’s called “When a Stranger Calls” featuring a serial killer who paints himself to perfectly blend in with a wall behind him. There was another, i can’t remember the name, where they find this kid who has painted himself to perfect blend in with a wall or window or something. Can’t remember. The point is, the idea is pretty common.

          • slob

            I’ve seen it in the 1992 Robin Williams movie ‘Toys’ where LL Cool J blends into stuff throughout the whole movie.

          • James

            lol reminds me of the US army’s ‘”universal” arpat camo from a few years ago.

            http://www.neatorama.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/CamouflageCouch-500×375.jpg

        • Jin Ch’in

          That’s not what i meant..Cindy Sherman use similar process to create her art. She uses a make up artist, hair stylist, Costume stylist etc to transfer into different persona then she photograph herself which is her “art” you could say why should he be regarded as an “artist” also but she is. You do not need to be the one creating the “art” to be the artist”.

          Art is not the skill or craft but the meaning which gives it art status. So Lui Bolin works say alot about modern life we live in a age with so much materialism yet we are all invisible to our surrounding and yourself…just an example. Each person will read into it different meaning.

          Leonardo da vinci doesn’t paint all his own works so are you saying he is also not a true artist?..most of the time he would just stencil the outline and his workers would fill in the colours..like connect the dots.

          • mr.wiener

            Nice to see you know something of what you are talking about this time:)

        • mr.wiener

          Most big artist don’t do their own work, the concept is theirs and they commission it. Andy Warhol in particular, though as with most post modernism [ and post-post modernists like Jeff coons and Mark Kostabi] it is a snake eating it’s own tail, The fact that they commissioned becomes part of the in-joke. Art has in fact turned into a big circle-jerk.

        • BiggJ

          I have to kind of agree with you. I have hard give credit to “artist” like this. To me, To be an artist should involve some type of skill. His assistance are artist.Any fool can do what this guy does. I take pictures of 2 monkeys fighting and put a profound meaning to. I could say this represents government oppression and society or some shit…..when in reality it’s just a picture of 2 monkeys fighting. And it’s not just this guy, a lot of people do this same kind of thing. I give credit to an artist like this picture I posted…this takes skill and talent.

          • Love, that style.
            I like Liu Bolin also, he just becomes the canvas.

            I paint as a hobby its very relaxing a good way to unwind.

          • some musings

          • linette lee

            It’s very nice. :)

          • Thank you very much, Linette.

    • mattman_183

      I’m sorry. Did he or anyone say he came up with the concept? Did he or anyone claim he painted himself? I didn’t see it if he did. So what exactly is the problem? He gets credit because he was the man behind this specific project, and many people enjoy it. Its that simple…or at least should be.

      • No one said he came up with the idea, or that he painted himself. However, I and several others pointed out that he did not, in fact, come up with the concept, and appears to not be doing the painting (unless that was him painting the primer and basic shapes onto the jacket before he put it on). I think you kind of got it backwards there.

        But, the reason we are discussing Liu Bolin and this piece, is because of the video at the top that features Liu Bolin and this piece. Not any of his other, probably more original artwork. This work is in the spotlight. My point is that it’s not deserving of being in the spotlight when there is more unique art in China, with no lack of political and/or social commentary.

  • The Enlightened One

    The ones with the dragon and the drinks are the best. He blends in so well in those two. Cool concept, and it is an interesting message.

    I like his work.

  • ScottLoar

    This is classic schtick. It gets old fast. And it ain’t art, it’s schtick.

  • Impressive and convey some message.

    in the future, perhaps this:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/08/10/us-cloaking-idUSN1029418920080810

    a matter of time before science fiction becomes reality:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/01/us-augmented-reality-idUSTRE7B01CS20111201

  • With “shanzhai culture”, Chinese are liable to copy anything and everything. Including the background.

    • Nefarious Laowei

      LOL! POTD!

  • ophiolater

    It’s dated game, come on, give us something really worth our time and eyes.

  • BiggJ

    I think it’s cool. This would have been really great 15-20 years ago. I have an app on phone pretty much do the same thing. I know it’s a lot work at least for his body painters…they are good artist. It’s alright. I wiki’d this guy and apparently his pretty famous. He also did the art work for Bon Jovi’s new album. I think it takes a lot of work to do….. Someone should tell this guy about photoshop…save him alot of time. lol

  • BiggJ

    You American lap dog!!! The heavenly kingdom banishes you!!!!

    • He’s looking pretty good in this one.
      Would have been better had it been an Arkansas flag.

    • zi_ni_ma_13

      this will look good on his political asylum application.

  • Jin Ch’in

    He should “invisible” himself in the ladies changing room then have all the laowais up in arms about how Chinese men have no morals and love raping woman blah blah blah.

    Great work Lui Bolin

    • I bet you would love to be in some big, hairy, fat, laowai man arms, wouldn’t you?

      • Jin Ch’in

        YAWN

        • mr.wiener

          Who said that!?!

        • Awww, look at that, just the idea of it so dreamlike to him, it made him so comfortable he went to sleep like a baby. A cute little angry baby.

    • The Enlightened One

      The fuck you talking about crackhead?

      Crackhead Troll

    • mr.wiener

      I wish that last comment would turn invisible.

    • Mighty

      Idiots like you just can’t have a normal conversation without offending anyone.

    • Jing Li

      This is a fascinating and inspiring story, and that’s all you can respond with?

      Are you capable of thought?

      • Mighty

        He’s only capable of having racist and perverted thoughts.

  • markus peg

    I like it because it is painted on and not manipulated this means that it tricks my eyes in the correct manner, he is in the foreground painted like the background and my eyes find it difficult to tell even if my brain understands. This is the beauty of it, Photoshop can recreate this for our eyes but the effect isn’t the same for our train of thought.
    I like what he said about living 100 years yet only being a
    dot in history, we all know this to be correct, how do we make our mark on the
    world to be remembered? If that’s what he wishes then he is going the right way
    about it.

    • ScottLoar

      Look to examples of trompe l’oeil; it’s also become a popular street art form.

  • zi_ni_ma_13

    ai wei wei for life. fuck this guy, he didnt even paint anything. him standing there blending into the back ground = performance art. and i think we all can agree that one man performance art is gay, and not in the good way. bad gay, prison gay.

    • Mighty

      Ai Wei Wei! Ai Wei Wei!

    • 五毛Partay!

      One man performance art is situationally gay?

  • linette lee

    I like his painting. So cute. That soda painting in supermarket is really nice. Look so real. :)

    • Boris

      Nice picture. Can you aim the camera down a tiny bit for the next one? And be sure to have your air-conditioning on its coolest setting.

  • Mighty

    I just watched the video. Actually his message is brilliant. We can all relate to that. (Let’s just wait for what the Wumaos have to say).

  • xixi

    that’s amazing!!!

    • James

      years back used to think trebark was the s#%

  • al the pict

    Veruschka was so much better at this in the 70’s. 6′ naked female German supermodel painted into brickwork and roan pipes and captured by an excellent professional photographer and artist? Compete with that.

  • al the pict
    • James

      hmmm a painted guy linking to a painted chick

  • Jing Li

    This man is fascinating and clever. He’s using his art to exercise a freedom of speech that isn’t normally possible in his country, I look forward to his next work.

    One question, though. Has this story appeared on the Chinese internet? There doesn’t seem to be an Chinese netizen reaction.

    • Mighty

      I was wondering about that too. Maybe it didn’t pass censorship.

  • A J

    If he was a perv…. Painted dick will be in someones mouth :D

  • kaciekong

    it really surprise me greatly

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